Razorbacks rally past Alabama
By By Mark Etheridge / special to The Star
Sept. 28, 2003
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. Thunderstorms swept through Tuscaloosa Saturday delaying the kickoff by an hour and Alabama's offense for a tad longer.
The rains did stop and the Tide offense arrived early in the second half. The Crimson Tide struck for three big plays to turn a tie game into a twenty-one point lead. That lead was not enough as Arkansas stormed back to defeat Alabama 34-31 in double overtime.
Arkansas used a potent running game to batter the Alabama defense throughout the contest. Cedric Cobbs rushed 36 times for 198 yards as the Razorbacks gained 331 yards on the ground. Arkansas kept pounding on a tired Alabama defense that felt it had the game won in first overtime.
In the first overtime, Arkansas faced third and eight from the Tide 23. Quarterback Matt Jones was pressured by Tide linebacker Derrick Pope. Jones could not elude Pope and tried desperately to unload the ball hurling into the sideline and was called for intentional grounding. The sack and the penalty moved his team out of field goal range. A desperation heave to the end zone was intercepted by Alabama safety Charles Jones and Alabama had the upper hand.
Alabama defensive backs swarmed Jones in the end zone drawing an unsportsman-like conduct penalty. As a result, Alabama began their overtime possession at the 40 instead of the 25.
After a short run and a near interception made it third and nine, Croyle found receiver Brandon Greer just short of the first down. A fourth-down Croyle sneak kept the drive alive. Three Shaud Williams carries brought Alabama to the 25 yard line, facing another fourth down. Senior kicker Brian Bostick then missed left from 39 yards to give Arkansas new life in the second extra frame.
Alabama could not shake this miss as Croyle was intercepted on the first play of the second overtime. Arkansas took the ball and drove to the Tide three where Chris Balseiro hit the 19-yard game-winner capping the Razorbacks comeback.
"Unbelievable," said Tide head coach Mike Shula after the game. "What a game filled with highs and lows. We played brilliant at times and we lost our poise at times. We just couldnt come up with the play when we needed it. We had some missed opportunities and some penalties hurt us. We just have to find a way to overcome this."
Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt was understandably excited over the way his team fought back.
"We had some that refused to quit," Nutt said. "They could have easily said that's it at 31-10. There were some heroes tonight. It is a tough place to play and we had them at their best and we knew that."