Jones Does It Again

FAYETTEVILLE -- By the time Arkansas right guard Gene Perry saw Matt Jones breaking downfield in the fourth quarter against Alabama, it was too late for him to help on the play.

All he could do was cheer.

"I was just yelling, 'Run, Matt, run!'" Perry said. "I know he can get us out of tight situations. That was pretty much our tight situation for the night."

After Jones took a seven-yard sack on first down from the Arkansas 20 with 9 minutes, 14 seconds to play in the fourth quarter and the Razorbacks clinging to a 14-10 lead, the unshakable senior wasted no time turning the field around.

Jones scampered 13 yards on second down to set up a manageable third-and-4 from the Razorbacks' 26 in Arkansas' 27-10 win Saturday in Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt's call was for K-4, the radar option with Jones lined up under center with Peyton Hillis at fullback and De'Arrius Howard at tailback.

Jones rolled right with the option to dump the pass off to Hillis, a play that worked for Arkansas' touchdown to cap the first half.

With that play in mind, Alabama safety Roman Harper moved over to cover Hillis and made the fatal mistake of turning his back on Jones.

Hillis didn't, and saw his quarterback coming at him.

The true freshman from Conway turned, found Harper and pushed him more than 20 yards down the east sideline while Jones followed close behind for a 50-yard gain to the Alabama 24.

Eight plays later, Hillis finished the drive with a tackle-shaking score from seven yards out to put the Razorbacks ahead 20-10 with 3:02 to play and seal the outcome of a game that was up for grabs for nearly 57 minutes.

"(Jones') long run really became the turning point for the game," Harper said.

Jones agreed.

"Definitely," he said. "We got down there inside their 20 and have a chance to score and open the game up. We knew if we got up by two scores the way our defense was playing, they were going to keep us in it."

Alabama coach Mike Shula, who had to punt on fourth-and-4 from midfield and on fourth-and-1 from the Arkansas 39 in the fourth quarter, had to credit Jones for the win while the Tide broke in new quarterback Marc Guillon.

"Their quarterback had some great plays in the pocket and on the run," Shula said. "He's faster than we all think. He outran Harper, who is our fastest guy."

Jones' final numbers won't compare favorably to some of his best games at 7 of 12 for 122 yards, a touchdown and an interception along with 60 yards rushing on 9 attempts.

But just like his 4 of 16 day against LSU two years ago when he threw the game-tying touchdown pass to DeCori Birmingham with seven seconds, only his last play mattered most.

Nutt said Arkansas was trying to keep the ball in Jones' hands against Joe Kines' defense, but Alabama consistently took away his running lanes, forcing him to pitch it, throw it away or take a sack.

Nutt stuck with it, though, and it paid off on the 50-yard run by Jones to set up the clinching score and get Arkansas to 1-0 in the Southeastern Conference.

"There's nothing like having No. 9, your senior, handling the ball for you," Nutt said. "He takes a lot of stress off our offense."


Hawgs Daily Top Stories