A heave for Hogs’ lore

OT vic­tory broke records, Ole Miss

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - TOM MUR­PHY

FAYET­TEVILLE — The sit­u­a­tion looked bleak for the Arkansas Razorbacks, but it was only a setup for one of the most thrilling fin­ishes in school his­tory.

The Razorbacks faced fourth and 25 in over­time at No. 18 Ole Miss and had to score a touch­down on their pos­ses­sion be­cause they trailed the Rebels 52-45 af­ter a tug-of-war of­fen­sive show.

Coach Bret Bielema al­ready had an­nounced to co­or­di­na­tor Dan Enos and the of­fense that Arkansas would go for a two­point con­ver­sion if the Hogs scored in over­time.

The odds of reach­ing that sce­nario were long when quar­ter­back Brandon Allen brought the team to the line at the Ole Miss 40yard line, need­ing to reach the 15 for a first down. The odds dropped even fur­ther when Ole Miss cov­ered all of the deep routes and Allen threw a check- down pass to tight end Hunter Henry at the 26, and Rebels safety Tony Bridges im­me­di­ately wrapped up Henry’s legs.

Fans of the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayet­teville know what hap­pened next. Henry be­came one of six Razorbacks to touch the ball on a lat­eral play that is em­bla­zoned in Arkansas foot­ball his­tory. It quickly was given names such as The Henry Heave and Swine In­ter­ven­tion.

Run­ning back Alex Collins took a star turn af­ter Henry’s long lat­eral tipped off the hand of 6-10 Dan

Skip­per, who out­jumped a de­fender near the mid­dle of the field. Collins scooped up a per­fect bounce at the 42, be­hind the orig­i­nal line of scrim­mage, and mo­tored around left end, us­ing a se­ries of blocks and a clever stut­ter-step to push past the 15 and con­vert the first down.

“I took a glance back and I knew ev­ery­one was back there and just knew I had

to chuck it in the air as far as I can and try to get it back there,” Henry said. “Whew, man!”

A dis­as­trous out­come for the Hogs still was pos­si­ble, as Collins lat­eraled back­ward as he fell, mis­tak­enly be­liev­ing he had to score a touch­down on the play. Re­ceiver Do­minique Reed alertly dove on and cra­dled the loose ball at the Ole Miss 11 to move the chains.

“When I picked up the ball and ran to the other side, I didn’t know where I was at on the field. I didn’t know if I had the first or not,” Collins said. “I didn’t know what was go­ing on, so I tried to flip it back, too.”

Henry copped to not know­ing the sit­u­a­tion as well, as he can be seen rais­ing his hands in frus­tra­tion at the end of the play, think­ing the game was over.

“When he went down, I thought we’d lost at first,” Henry said. “But luck­ily we got the ball and first down, so — crazy.”

Arkansas went on to score on Drew Mor­gan’s third touch­down catch of the day, a 9-yard strike from Allen two plays af­ter the mir­a­cle 29-yard lat­eral.

The Razorbacks won 53-52 on Allen’s 1-yard run for the two-point con­ver­sion, a gift from the Rebels af­ter Mar­quis Haynes grabbed Allen’s face mask while sack­ing the quar­ter­back on Arkansas’ first con­ver­sion try.

“It was ec­static,” Collins said to de­scribe Arkansas’ locker room. “Just look­ing around see­ing the play­ers and coaches jump­ing around and ev­ery­body’s happy and giv­ing each other high-fives. It’s just a great feel­ing to think this is what we put the hard work in for, this sat­is­fac­tion right here.”

The dra­matic over­time vic­tory ranked No. 5 in the Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette’s poll of the 25 most mem­o­rable Razorbacks games of the SEC era. The par­tic­u­lars of the game and the defin­ing play are rel­a­tively fresh in the minds of Arkansas fans be­cause it took place less than two years ago. It is the most re­cent of all the 25 games in the Demo­crat-Gazette’s polling of a 15-mem­ber panel.

Bielema, speak­ing at SEC me­dia days on July 10 in Hoover, Ala., said he, Allen and Henry were in his of­fice ear­lier this sum­mer rem­i­nisc­ing about the play and out­come.

Bielema, who had de­scribed a kneel down at the end of a 31-7 vic­tory against Texas as “bor­der­line erotic,” had an­other doozy as he was wrap­ping up his postgame re­marks in a small room un­der the sta­dium.

“I’m go­ing to go jump on my wife,” said Bielema, be­fore cor­rect­ing him­self and say­ing “jump on a plane.”

Allen had a ca­reer day against the Rebels, pass­ing for 442 yards, the sec­ond-high­est to­tal for an Arkansas quar­ter­back, and six touch­downs.

“It was a re­ally, re­ally fun game,” Allen said. “A lot of fight in our guys.

“Of­fen­sively … we were click­ing all game. We talked on the side­line, it didn’t mat­ter how many points it took, we were go­ing to get this one done.”

Allen won a per­sonal shootout against Ole Miss quar­ter­back Chad Kelly, who passed for 368 yards and 3 touch­downs and rushed for 110 yards and 3 touch­downs.

“Stinks,” Kelly said that day. “No words to de­scribe it. The ball just didn’t go our way.”

Allen took a big shot as he dove across the goal line on the two-point con­ver­sion and stayed down for sev­eral sec­onds as cam­era­men moved into po­si­tion to doc­u­ment the win­ning score.

When the se­nior quar­ter­back from Fayet­teville even­tu­ally got to his feet, he was car­ried off the field by a group of Razorbacks.

Allen de­scribed Enos’ play call­ing as great for the en­tire game, which was tied 7-7, 1414, 17-17, 24-24, 31-31, 38-38 and 45-45 in reg­u­la­tion. It also was tied at the end of ev­ery quar­ter.

“As soon as we went into over­time, it was, ‘Hey, if they score and we go down and score, let’s go for two and end it,’ ” Allen said. “That’s a lot of con­fi­dence in our of­fense, the way we were click­ing and do­ing things well. We kind of had for­tune go­ing on our side there late, so why not roll the dice?”

For an Arkansas pro­gram two years re­moved from the school’s only 0-8 run through the SEC, the road up­set of the Rebels was a ma­jor mile­stone. Ole Miss had beaten Alabama ear­lier in the sea­son and was on track to play in its first SEC Cham­pi­onship Game had it not been for the Razorbacks. Alabama fans — who del­uged the Razorbacks with mes­sages of thanks, mostly on so­cial me­dia, and

painted a mu­ral of Bielema on the wall of a busi­ness in Tuscaloosa — watched the Crim­son Tide go on to win the SEC cham­pi­onship and the Col­lege Foot­ball Play­off na­tional cham­pi­onship.

The im­ages from that Satur­day af­ter­noon turned evening at Vaught-Hem­ing­way Sta­dium were in some in­stances one of a kind.

Ole Miss Coach Hugh Freeze and some mem­bers of his staff raised their hands in ap­par­ent vic­tory as Bridges wrapped up Henry right by the Rebels side­line. A tri­umph was also in the Rebels’ clutches mo­ments later, if only Haynes had been able to sack Allen without draw­ing a penalty.

“I thought we rose up there at the end and were go­ing to get it done,” Freeze said that day. “Then the crazi­ness oc­curred.”

ESPN’s “Sports Science” seg­ment ded­i­cated an in­stall­ment to the wacky play. The Sports Science team cal­cu­lated the dis­tances in­volved in the lat­eral and Collins’ run, the odds of Collins get­ting a 90- de­gree bounce from the turf af­ter Skip­per’s tip, and how Collins’ in­stinc­tive moves helped him slow down de­fend­ers and reach the first down.

In ad­di­tion, left tackle Den­ver Kirk­land, Mor­gan and tight end Jeremy Sprin­kle all con­trib­uted crit­i­cal blocks ahead of Collins’ run. Mor­gan and Sprin­kle stayed down on the turf af­ter the play and were re­quired to leave the field for the next snap, which was a 2-yard run by Kody Walker as Collins was given a play to catch his breath.

Records and mile­stones from the game abounded.

The Razorbacks scored 50plus points for a third con­sec­u­tive game, the first time they had pulled off that feat in 99 years.

Collins, who rushed for 108 yards, ex­ceeded the 1,000yard mark for the third time in his ca­reer, join­ing Dar­ren McFad­den and Her­schel Walker as the only SEC play­ers to ac­com­plish that feat.

Mor­gan caught 9 passes for 122 yards and a ca­reer-best 3 touch­downs, while Reed added 7 catches for 105 yards and 2 touch­downs.

Arkansas con­verted a school-record 24 pass­ing first downs among its 35 in the game, smash­ing the record of 19 pass­ing first downs.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

Arkansas tight end Hunter Henry gets set to lat­eral the foot­ball be­fore be­ing brought down by Mis­sis­sippi de­fend­ers on fourth and 25 in over­time of their game on Nov. 7, 2015, at Vaught-Hem­ing­way Sta­dium in Ox­ford, Miss. Henry’s lat­eral was picked up by run­ning back Alex Collins, who ran the rest of the way for a first down to keep a scor­ing drive alive as the Razorbacks beat the Rebels 53-52.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

Quar­ter­back Brandon Allen is car­ried off the field by team­mates af­ter his two-point con­ver­sion in over­time pushed Arkansas to a come­back vic­tory over Mis­sis­sippi.

Arkansas Demo­crat-Gazette file photo

Arkansas wide re­ceiver Drew Mor­gan hur­dles Mis­sis­sippi de­fen­sive back Cameron Ord­way dur­ing the fourth quar­ter. Mor­gan fin­ished with 9 catches for 122 yards and 3 touch­downs, in­clud­ing a game-ty­ing 9-yard score in over­time in the Razorbacks’ vic­tory.

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