Arkansas 24, Alabama 23 (2 OT)

Mitch Mustain shakes off a tough day to hit former high school teammate Ben Cleveland with a 11-yard scoring strike in the second overtime that coupled with Jeremy Davis' PAT gives Arkansas a 24-23 win over No. 22 Alabama before 74,687 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium and a CBS national television audience.

What's a University of Arkansas football season without a little overtime?

Mitch Mustain's 11-yard touchdown pass to fellow true freshman and former Springdale teammate Ben Cleveland tied the game in the second overtime and then Jeremy Davis' PAT ended it as the Razorbacks rallied to a 24-23 win over No. 22 Alabama before 74,687 fans Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"I'm really proud of our team," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "We never gave up even when we could have let go of the rope. I really appreciate the courage and guts our guys showed. We had a lot of heroes tonight. It took everyone including the guys on the sidelines."

The win boosted Arkansas (3-1, 2-0) - who is 6-1 in overtime games in the past few years - into a first place tie in the SEC's Western Division with No. 2 Auburn - who the Razorbacks just happen to hit the road and play on Oct. 7 after an off week.

"It's positive winning the close ones, because it builds the guys' confidence," Nutt said. "I think we are really about to take off."

UA wideout Marcus Monk was flabberghasted in the locker room after the game.

"This game showed you can't take anything for granted," Monk said. "Anybody can win on any given Saturday. The whole game was crazy but it was great to get the victory. We are trying to bring that winning tradition back to Arkansas. Against Auburn we are going to have to play better and be almost perfect because they are such a strong team."

It is the first time since Nutt's first year at the helm in 1998 that the Razorbacks have started off SEC play at 2-0 while previously unbeaten Alabama (3-1, 1-1) missed its shot at doing so.

"This is a heartbreaking loss," Alabama head coach Mike Shula said. "It's tough to swallow. Things happened every quarter both good and bad. We just couldn't stop the run. We've got to stick together and get through this and be men. We are going to practice what we preach and believe in each other."

It looked as if Arkansas was about to lose in the first overtime when Mustain (7-of-22 for 97 yards passing) threw his third interception of the game and previously unbeaten Alabama (3-1, 1-1) set Leigh Tiffin up for a 30-yard field goal.

But Tiffin - a freshman walk on who had an incredibly tough day - missed his third field goal of the game (30, 33, 37) while making just one 46-yarder.

He also missed the PAT after Alabama quarterback John Parker Wilson completed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Nick Walker leaving the Crimson Tide ahead 26-20 and the door open for Arkansas.

Shula admitted that he thought about changing kickers, but chose not to put in Jamie Christenson for Tiffin, who had won the Vanderbilt game for Bama 13-10 with a 47-yarder.

"Jamie hasn't had enough reps," Shula said. "I didn't want to put him in a rough situation. Leigh kicked a 46-yarder into the wind. He was third in the country in kicking going into this game. The important thing is we need to get what happened corrected and understand what went wrong with those kicks."

Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden (25 carries, 112 yards) carried twice for 14 yards, Mustain threw one away and then he hit Cleveland on a 3rd-and-8 play on which the receiver jumped and made a great play.

"The route was supposed to be a five-yard out play," Mustain related, "but their corner covered so Ben turned it up and I threw it up to him and he was able to convert it for a touchdown."

Cleveland now has three touchdown catches this season.

"I turned my route up field and Mitch threw it up to my 6-5 frame and I caught it," Cleveland said. "It is obviously the biggest catch of my life."

That left Davis, who had missed a PAT earlier, the opportunity to end the game and he did with a boot that set off quite a celebration.

"When I missed the extra point (earlier), I looked up a little bit before I kicked it which is something you don't want to do," Davis said. "When (Tiffin) missed the extra point in overtime I knew I would get another chance and I was able to hit it right down the middle."

Arkansas got to that point because its defense forced its first turnover of the season turned out to be a doozy - and looked for a minute in the third quarter like it might be a game-winner.

Sophomore defensive end Antwain Robinson pressured Wilson, knocked the ball out of his hand and Randy Kelly scooped up and took 39 yards to the end zone to the delight of a deafening crowd.

The play was reviewed, but the call stood and - after Mustain hit McFadden for the two-point coversion - the Razorbacks were suddenly ahead 17-10 with 4:08 left in the third quarter.

"When we needed a turnover, we got it and we scored with it," Nutt said. "It was huge, huge."

Kelly gave the credit to Robinson, who joined with fellow defensive end Jamaal Anderson and Kelly for all five of the Razorbacks' 5 sacks on Saturday.

"I was coming on a blitz and got picked up by a lineman," said Kelly, who had played just one play last week but led the way with 13 tackles this week. "(Robinson) was able to strip the ball and I saw it and picked it up and took it to the house. it was nice to get our first turnover that way."

Wilson shook off his fumble by leading his team on 10-play, 75-yard drive that culminated with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Keith Brown and Tiffin's PAT that tied it up 17-17 with 13:36 left.

Alabama had a chance to take the lead on its next possession, but Tiffin was wide right from 30 yards and neither team manage to have a shot to score on its final drive.

"We can't doubt the effort of anyone on our team," Alabama wideout D.J. Hall said. "No one should point a finger at Leigh. No one played a perfect game. I know I didn't."

The Razorbacks took an early 3-0 advantage on their second possession of the game when Davis drilled a 24-yard field goal.

That capped a 10-play, 30-yard drive that was set up when Cedric Washington return a punt to the Alabama 37.

It stayed that way until Alabama ripped off a 99-yard drive in the second quarter after Jacob Skinner had punted them back to the Crimson Tide 1.

it took only four plays, the final one a 78-yard touchdown bomb from Wilson to D.J. Hall - who actually waited on the ball to get to him than outran the defenders.

Tiffin, who had missed a 33-yard field goal earlier in the quarter, booted the PAT to put Alabama up 7-3 with 8:50 left before halftime.

Tiffin boosted his team's lead to 10-3 when he finished the first half with a 46-yard boot that was right down the middle as time rann out.

Arkansas took the opening kickoff of the second half and marched 93 yards after Felix Jones made a bad decision to run the ball out of the end zone after fumbling.

The Razorbacks covered that distance in 13 plays, taking just under six minutes and punching it in on McFadden's 3-yard scoring jaunt.

Davis missed the PAT leaving the Razorbacks trailing 10-9 with 9:04 remaining in the third quarter.

That set up the big defensive play, which might have gotten overshadowed in the end, but was as big a play as any.

"It's tough," Wilson said. "When we are playing well, we are really playing great. But then we have those moments where we fumble and they run it back for a touchdown."



Darren McFadden





Gus Malzahn, Mitch Mustain





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