A heave for Hogs’ lore
OT victory broke records, Ole Miss
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 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.
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 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.