The No. 10 Vols packed 105,688 into huge Neyland Stadium to greet the Hogs, then sank to their seats in silence as Matt Jones engineered two touchdown marches in the game's final seven minutes to force overtime. The tying score came at 3:30 on Jones' 92-yard floater to Richard Smith for the longest touchdown pass in UA history.
In the first overtime, the Hogs won the toss and elected to play defense first. Tennessee couldn't make a first down, so Philip Newman put points on the board with a 33-yard field goal on fourth-and-2. It was 20-17 Tennessee.
Jones moved the chains with a 15-yard scramble to the 8-yard line. On first-and-goal, Howard made one to the 7-yard line. On second down, Jones tried a bootleg left, but was pushed out of bounds by Demetrin Veal for an 8-yard loss to the 15. The Hogs then called timeout facing third and goal at the 15. Jones made 2 on a draw out of the shotgun. O'Donohoe tied it at 20-20 with a 39-yard field goal.
The Hogs went first in the second OT. They got their first lead on another 29-yarder by O'Donohoe. The Hogs came up empty on third-and-8 from the UT 12-yard line when Jackson came on to try a fade for Jones, but the cornerback pushed Jones down at the start of his route.
The Vols made one first down, then went conservative on three straight runs, the final one a quarterback draw for a loss of two yards. Newman's 31-yard field goal was partially blocked by Jeb Huckeba, but limped over by a matter of feet. It was tied again, 23-23.
The Hogs, with the option in the third OT, elected to play defense first. On the first play, freshman running back Derrick Tinsley fumbled after Elliott Harris got a hand on the ball just after an exchange on the draw. Jimarr Gallon recovered to end the possession.
De'Arrius Howard made 5 yards around right end on first down to start the Hogs' possession in the third OT. Howard netted minus one on two more plunges into the line to bring out O'Donohoe for a 38-yard field goal. Tennessee used their OT timeout to try to distract the UA kicker. His chance at the game winner was wide left. It was his third miss of the game.
In the fourth OT, Arkansas went first. Jones scrambled for 7 and then Howard made 6. On third-and-3 at the 5, Jones rolled left, then came back right, then back to his left to make it to the corner pylon for the first TD in overtime. The rules call for two-point conversions after the first two overtimes. Jones had to throw it away on a rollout to his right.
Tennessee scored in just one play. Casey Clausen faded back after a play-action fake and found Tony Brown 10 yards behind Batman Carroll. The UA corner took the fake and came two steps forward on Clausen's fake. Tennessee also had to go for two, according to the rules. Richardson broke up Clausen's bullet for Witten, the big tight end, 3 yards deep in the end zone. It was 29-29 after four overtimes.
In the fifth OT, the Vols had possession first. The Vols needed four plays to punch it in for the touchdown. Kelly Washington weaved for 7 on a screen pass. Then, Jabari Davis carried between the tackles for 2, 4 and 12. He plowed through Huckeba and Tony Bua. Clausen was stopped for no gain on a two-point play draw.
Howard made 7 on first down, but not only did he lose 2 on the next play, but Jason Peters was called for holding to make it second-and-15 at the 30. Jones bought some time for a scramble, then found George Wilson open. UT drew a pass interference penalty. The 15-yard penalty moved it to the 15 with a first down. Howard made 12 around right end for a first-and-goal at the 3-yard line. He went to the 1, and then across for the tying touchdown, both behind Shawn Andrews. It was tied again, 35-35. On the two-point play for the victory, the second time the Hogs had a shot at the game winner, Jones scrambled right and threw across his body for Wilson. It was underthrown and intercepted.
In the sixth OT, Arkansas went first. The Hogs lost 6 yards, and turned it over to David Carlton. The sophomore kicker boomed a 47-yarder to give the Hogs a 38-35 lead.
It didn't last long. Clausen found Al Witten down the middle of the field for a 25-yard touchdown for the 42-38 victory. Lawrence Richardson tried to bat Clausen's strike away at the last second, but missed with a swipe of his right hand.
Matt Jones was the one to step up in the locker room to do the talking after the loss to Tennessee.
"He was being the quarterback of the team, our leader," said Jeb Huckeba. "He told us to keep our heads up and that we would not let happen what happened to Ole Miss. They got down after we beat them in the overtime game last year, and we aren't going to do that. He encouraged us and stepped up."
Houston Nutt said, "Matt Jones is a winner. I love him and his attitude. He talked to the team after the game when we got in the locker room. We came together on Wednesday, and we were together with a great attitude tonight. Losing creates doubt, but tonight we were in a heavyweight fight and we gave it everything we've got."
Jeb Huckeba was shaking his head afterwards. He couldn't believe the Hogs lost after the chances he had at blocking two field goals.
Huckeba said, "The one in the second OT, went between my hands and I got a little bit of a piece of it, but not so much. I was disappointed that I didn't have my hands together. So, in the third OT, I made sure to put my hands together and I got it good with my left hand. But, it still got over somehow. It hit my left hand and I kept thinking, 'How did that thing get over.' I got a lot of it. I just wish I'd had my hands together on the one in the second OT, too."
Houston Nutt said afterwards that he and Phil Fulmer talked in the pre-game about the negativity that has erupted in the state of Arkansas in the wake of the Tennessee game.
When I asked about the game afterwards, Houston let it loose. With tears in his eyes, he said, "It was probably the playcalling ... probably the playcalling. That's what it was."
Earlier, Houston said, "We played good enough to win and didn't. That's the tough part. It's bitter, bitter. We outplayed them a lot of times.
"I'm so proud of our team. I got them together out there right after the game and told them how much I appreciated them. They came back. The world is full of negativity these days. It's so easy to call up and put the negativity on the call-in shows. I'm just glad that our 18 and 19-year-olds continued to come to work with all of that going on. Most would have given up at 17-3 tonight. I'm awfully proud of them. The bad part is that they have nothing to show for it. They played hard, hard, hard."
With it second possession at the game's outset, Tennessee broke on top with Phillip Newman's 22-yard field goal at 6:11 of the first quarter. The big play in the five-play, 52-yard drive was a 45-yard bomb from Casey Clausen to Kelly Washington to the UA 12-yard line on the drive's first play.
The Razorbacks kept it for 13 plays on their second possession, but a pass interference penalty on what would have been an 18-yard completion to the 12, stalled that drive. Brennan O'Donohoe's 50-yard field goal attempt had the distance, but was wide right.
The Vols turned to the air for another big play when Cjlausen found tight end Al Witten open down the middle of the field for 48 yards. Witten plowed over strong safety Jimmy Beasley about midway in that play. Ken Hamlin caught Witten at the 7 after a 48-yard play. Tailback Jabari Davis made 4 and then the final 3 for the touchdown to make it 10-0 at 11:41 of the second quarter.
The Hogs responded with an 8-play, 52-yard march to make it 10-3 at 7:57 on O'Donohoe's 45-yard field goal. The big play was a 28-yard Jones pass to Richard Smith.
The Vols missed a scoring when Newman's 36-yard field goal attempt was wide left on the last play of the second quarter.
Arkansas, behind solid running by Cedric Cobbs on handoffs out of the shotgun, marched to the UT 25 with the second-half kickoff, and called timeout when facing a fourth down and short one foot. The Hogs inserted Tarvaris Jackson at quarterback with Jones split to the sideline. Jackson, at first signaling as if he was changing the play, stepped quickly under center and tried a sneak at left guard. He was stuffed for a slight loss.
The Hogs went three and out on their next possession of the third quarter when Jones, after making it past the first down stake, pitched forward on the option to his trail back. It was ruled an illegal forward pass, and the loss-of-down penalty wiped out the first down and brought on fourth down.
The defense got a turnover to start the third possession of the half when Tony Bua's blitz pressure forced a bad throw by Clausen. Bo Mosley intercepted the tipped pass at the UT 49-yard line. The Hogs opened their bag of tricks on the first play when Dedrick Poole took a handoff, then pulled up to float a pass to Jones for a 25-yard gain to the UT 24. The Hogs moved it to the 19, but Jones was flushed on a roll out and had to throw the ball away on third-and-5. O'Donohoe's 35-yard attempt from the left hash was wide right at 1:03 of the third quarter.
The Hogs lost Cobbs for the final quarter when the big junior tailback turned an ankle late in the third quarter. The Vols led in total yards, 91 to 65, after one quarter, 204 to 121, after two quarters and the lead in total yards shrunk to 235 to 218 after three quarters.
Tennessee pushed the lead to 17-3 on Jabari Davis' 58-yard touchdown run around left end at 14:03 of the final quarter. It appeared the Vols had the Hogs' right end locked up in a hold as Davis made his move to the outside. Arkansas coach Houston Nutt sprinted with the line judge on the UA sideline to complain about the hold as Davis sprinted won the Hogs' sideline. It was a five-play, 80-yard drive.
The Hogs were three-and-out again . Fred Talley made nothing at left end. George Wilson dropped Jones' pass after a scramble. And, Jones, on third-and-10, had to throw off balance to Brandon Holmes in the flat. It was a bit behind the tailback, and he fell to the ground for no gain after losing his balance reaching behind him for the pass.
Arkansas put things together for an 11-play, 60-yard touchdown march. It started with DeCori Birmingham's 14-yard punt return. Jones, staying calm despite several drops, teamed with De'Arrius Howard for impressive plays out of the shotgun. Howard, the redshirt freshman tailback, got the touchdown on a 10-yard run off right guard on a fourth-and-2 play. It appeared he was down at the 1-yard line, but officials ruled the touchdown. It was 17-10 at 6:56 of the fourth quarter. Thomas Crowder had a 20-yard catch early in the drive.
Tennessee converted one first down, then Dustin Colquitt's towering 50-yard punt was fair caught by Birmingham at the 8-yard line. It took one play for Jones to work his magic. The UA quarterback floated to his right, then stopped to let the rush slip[ past. Smith, running an out, slid down the sideline and found himself behind everyhone by 10 yards. He easily outsprinted the Vols for the 92-yard TD pass to tie the score with 3:30 left.
Neither team threatened with their last possession of regulation. Howard made 20 on first down to move the Hogs to their own 40-yard line on their final try. However, a high snap on the shotgun went over the head of Jones for a 10-yard loss. At that point, the Hogs elected to run out the final 35 seconds of regulation.
DeCori Birmingham (32) returns a kick against Tennessee.
Cedric Cobbs churns for yardage against the Vols.
Matt Jones (9) fights for yardage.
De'Arrius Howard gave the Hogs a lift in the fourth quarter against UT.
Photos by Tom Ewart