Hogs Edge Bama in Thriller, 28-21

Alvin Ray's 32-yard scamper on a draw play set the stage for the winning touchdown with 64 seconds left as Arkansas rallied past Alabama, 28-21, before 51,482 in rainy Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.

Arkansas drove 80 yards in 13 plays for the game winner, a 9-yard pass from Robby Hampton to tight end Marcellus Poydras with 1:04 to play. Hampton passed to Boo Williams for the two-point pass to set the final score.
 
Alabama led all the way, but Arkansas missed a chance to tie the score with 4:04 left in the third quarter when a high snap from center led to a botched two-point play after Cedric Cobbs rolled 11 yards for a touchdown. That left 'Bama ahead, 21-20.
 
Arkansas overcame a disasterous effort in the kicking game. Not only did the Hogs blow the conversion on what would have been a tying kick late in the third quarter, they also had a punt blocked, muffed a punt for a turnover and had a field goal blocked.
 
The Hogs also had to overcome several serious injuries. Cobbs missed the final quarter with what is believed to be a season-ending shoulder separation. He will probably need surgery for what doctors diagnosed as a "complete separation." Backup tailback Fred Talley broke his left hand and will also miss the next four to six weeks.
 
That left third-team tailback Alvin Ray to carry the Arkansas hopes down the stretch. The junior from Dallas came through in championship style. His 32-yarder to the 'Bama 15-yard line with 1:53 left erased a third-and-5 situation.
 
The winning touchdown came on a third-and-4 with Poydras open in the middle of the end zone after a fake to Ray on the Hogs' power play.
 
"I was going to throw it away if it wasn't open," Hampton said. "But, Marcellus ran a great route. He was supposed to go to the corner, but he just slowed down in the middle. I just lobbed it into him."
 
Poydras said, "I'm not sure really what happened because it was so quick. Robby threw it so soft and all I had to do was wrap it up in my tummy. It was perfect, like all his passes. He played a great game tonight. I think Sparky Hamilton took everyone to the corner. I saw my man go past me, so I just slowed down. I might have actually turned back some. I don't know. I thought there might have been someone on my back, but there was no one there."
 
Alabama had the lead most of the game. The Tide rolled 80 yards in 17 plays to open the game for a 7-0 lead on Brandon Miree's 3-yard plunge. Arkansas countered with a 10-play, 76-yard drive with fullback Adam Daily catching Hampton's 10-yard TD pass with 1:54 left in the opening quarter.
 
The muffed punt gave the Tide the field position it would eventually need to roll 51 yards in 11 plays to go ahead on Miree's 1-yard plunge at 5:15 of the second quarter.
 
Arkansas made it 14-14 at intermission on Hampton's 1-yard sneak with 1:14 left on the second-quarter clock. The Hogs capitalized on Derrick Thompson's weaving 24-yard fumble return to the 'Bama 22-yard line.
 
Arkansas opened with a nice drive to start the third quarter, and had a chance to take the lead when Matt Swartz lined up for a 36-yard field goal with 11:18 left in the third quarter. However, it was blocked. That sparked a 10-play, 80-yard touchdown march by Alabama. Quarterback Tyler Watts passed 18 yards in the back of the end zone to Jason McAddley to make it 21-14 at 7:37 left in the third quarter.
 
The Hogs answered with an 8-play, 80-yard march after the ensuing kickoff. Hampton's passes of 20 to George Wilson and 16 to Adam Daily keyed the drive. Cobbs rolled around his right end for the final 11 yards. However, Arkansas couldn't tie it when the center snap was a little high and Matt Burstein decided to scramble. The slightly built holder was hauled down for a loss.
 
The winning touchdown march started from the Arkansas 20-yard line with 4:54 to play. The Hogs escaped a third-and-11 when Hampton's determined scramble through traffic netted 16 yards. The Hogs got a reprieve when Hampton's fourth-and-7 incomplete pass was negated by an Alabama holding penalty in the secondary. It was after that penalty that Ray found a huge opening between his guard and tackle on the right side to sail into the 'Bama secondary untouched.
 
"I just saw green," Ray said. "I had a lot of room. I think I felt one arm from a linebacker, but I went through that. I thought I was going to make it, but they had an angle. I was just glad I could help. I haven't gotten to play much and I was frustrated, but I had prepared in case I got a chance. You have to be ready for your chances."
 
The Hogs were outyarded, 343 to 324, but had a better per play average, 5.2 to 4.5. The best thing the Hogs did was avoid bad plays. They gave up no sacks and had only 4 yards in minus yards. The only turnover by the Arkansas offense came on a deep pass that was intercepted at the 'Bama 15-yard line. Hampton led the Arkansas offense with 173 yards passing, completing 20 of 33 on the night. His only interception was more effective than the Hogs' punting game. Alabama rushed for 226 yards, most of them from Miree. The bullish tailback made 96 yards on 29 carries. Quarterback Tyler Watts added 69 on 14 scrambles and option dashes.

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