You can call it a defensive masterpiece or an offensive struggle, but whatever, it ends up as a low-scoring loss for the University of Arkansas.
Auburn's Wes Byrum booted a 20-yard field goal with 21 seconds left - his third of the game - as the Tigers downed the Razorbacks 9-7 before 72,463 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in a game that was nationally televised by ESPN.
"Boy, I tell you that one hurts," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "It was a game that I thought we had won there at the end. The defense played their hearts out to keep us in this ballgame the entire game, but we didn't do a good job blocking them tonight and they played great defense."
Byrum's last field goal came just over a minute after a struggling Arkansas offense had scored the game's only touchdown on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Casey Dick to Lucas Miller with 1:36 left in the game.
"They are very good, but I thought when we scored there at the end that we were going to pull it out," Nutt said. "...I thought we were going to win this thing 7-6...We were going to ull out everything we had in the playbook to get down there."
It looked like Miller, the former walk on wideout from Greenwood, was going to be the hero on drive that included a double-throw back pass from Robert Johnson to Peyton Hills.
"Their corners were playing man and we wrong shoulder the throw," Nutt said. "The corner will take his eyes of of it briefly and when he does, it's a timing route and we throw it o the wrong shoulder and it is too hard for the corner to react. It was a good throw and a good catch."
The win lifted Auburn (5-2, 3-1), who got into position to score on Brandon Cox's 30-yard pass to Robert Dunn that got the Tigers down to the Arkansas 12, into the SEC Western Division lead with No. 1 LSU, who was upset earlier in the day a Kentucky, and Alabama.
"With this road schedule we've had, it was not looking good a couple of weeks ago," Auburn head coach Tommy Tuberville said. "I don't know if we are good enough to get to Atlanta (the SEC Championship game) or to win in Atlanta, but the good thing is that we keep getting better."
Tuberville actually sounded emphatheic towards Nutt, who got the Arkansas job over fellow Arkansas native Tuberville back in 1997.
"They've got a great football team with a lot of adverse conditions," Tuberville said. "They showed a lot of character with two minutes in the game and having to move the ball. That was just textbook."
"...Both teams played hard," Tuberville said. "I hate it for either team to lose in this situation."
Razorback running back Darren McFadden became the school's all-time leading scorer, but was held to 43 yards on 17 carries by a stingy Tigers defense - which allowed Arkansas just 198 yards of total offense.
That included just 67 yards rushing, a far cry from the nearly 300 yards that the Razorbacks (3-3, 0-3) had in a 27-10 win at Auburn last season.
Dick was 12-of-26 passing for 111 yards with one touchdown and one pick while Peyton Hillis had 55 yards on 5 catches.
The Arkansas defense has perhaps is best game of the season in the loss while allowing Auburn just 290 yards.
"Our defense did everything they could for us tonight," Nutt said. "I proud of all of our guys, but I am really proud of defense who played with their hearts and laid it on the line. That was big-time."
The first field goal came after a 14-play, 67-yard drive that was kept alive by a personal foul on Arkansas - one of three personal fouls that the Razorback got, including two in two plays.
Arkansas had a chance to tie it in the second quarter, but freshman Alex Tejada missed right on a 41-yard attempt.
Byrum, whose boot gave Auburn a win at Florida two weeks ago, missed a chip shot in the third quarter, but was good from 38 yards with 10:11 left in the game to boost it to 6-0.
Byrum left the door open when he missed a 46-yarder with just over four minutes left in the game.
Arkansas took advantage on a series that began with McFadden at quarterback in the Wild Hog and his deep pass for London Crawford getting an inteference call on Auburn.
Felix Jones, who was held to 42 yards on six carries, had a big play in the drive on a run that got Arkansas down to the 3 yard line.
Marcus Monk, Arkansas' senior wideout who has been out all season with a knee injury, dressed out and played two plays.
He was expecting to get chances in the red zone, but it was a place that Arkansas did not visit but once and that was late in the game.
Nutt said after the game that Monk could still redshirt if he did not play anymore midway through the season - which happened Saturday night with the sixth ballgame.
That is correct as the NCAA allows you to play 30 percent of the first half of the season and still be able to redshirt. He can not play next week.
"Marcus is running better straight ahead, but he can't go up and get a ball yet," Nutt said. "I think it showed a lot that ghe wanted to be out there and it got us pumped up..We can decide now whether he is going to be ready to play or we redshirt.."
Arkansas returns to action next Saturday at 1 p.m. at Ole Miss.
"The biggest thing I have to do now is make sure they don't listen to outside forces and keep our family - this Razorback family - very, very close," Nutt said. "I know it will be more difficult this time, but we can handle it, we can do it. We have a lot of great kids in that locker room. We have to fight and get back up. "
Darren McFadden gets some of his yards on a night when he became the school's all-time leading rusher
Peyton Hillis picks up yardage after a catch.
Arkansas' Matteral Richardson defends against Auburn wideout Rodriquez Smith.
The Arkansas defense stands up Auburn running back Brad Lester.
Auburn 9, Arkansas 7
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