In­stant Clas­sic still No. 1 in scribe’s book

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - SPORTS - WALLY HALL

The mind is a mys­te­ri­ous thing that can even re­write his­tory given enough time.

Take for in­stance the Arkansas-Ole Miss seven over­time game 16 years ago, which came in No. 3 on the list of most mem­o­rable games since Arkansas joined the SEC 25 years ago.

Think about that game and who is the per­son that should im­me­di­ately come to mind? Matt Jones.

In some ways, right­fully so, be­cause Jones com­pleted 3 of 6 passes and each of his com­ple­tions was in over­time and he also has the two-point pass com­ple­tion to DeCori Birm­ing­ham in the sev­enth over­time that put the Hogs up 58-50.

Jones, though, was not your start­ing quar­ter­back that day. Zak Clark played most of the first three quar­ters.

It wasn’t un­til the last play of the third quar­ter, in fact, when Jones came in and ran 6 yards for a first down with the Ra­zor­backs fac­ing a third and 6 that he was the quar­ter­back the rest of the way.

He and that game are writ­ten in ink as part of sports his­tory for the Univer­sity of Arkansas, Fayetteville.

Jones stood es­pe­cially tall on a night when Hous­ton Nutt later said they ran out of plays in over­time and were draw­ing up new ones in the dirt.

Jones ran for 110 yards in the game, 55 of them in over­time. He ran for two touch­downs in over­time, plus his three com­ple­tions ac­counted for 61 yards.

He was so elu­sive, so quick to im­pro­vise, the Rebels ba­si­cally sold out to stop him and the run­ning game in the fi­nal quar­ter and the seven over­times.

Yet, he ob­vi­ously was not the only hero in a game that for the first and only time your trusty scribe quit typ­ing on dead­line.

The game had blown through the ex­tended state edi­tion dead­line be­fore the fifth over­time, and the de­ci­sion was made at that mo­ment to keep tak­ing notes, but to stop writ­ing, delet­ing and edit­ing. The game was that com­pelling. And for the record, the up­dated dead­line was made with ease.

The Hogs took a 58-50 lead, then turned it over to Eli Man­ning, the Ole Miss quar­ter­back.

Man­ning, who passed for six touch­downs and 312 yards, led his team to an­other touch­down and the roar in Ox­ford could be heard in Tu­pelo.

But the Rebel yell was swal­lowed in an in­stant when Jer­maine Petty stopped the two-point con­ver­sion at 10:20 p.m. on a game that had started at 6:06. What you heard then was the thrilled whoop­ing and hol­ler­ing of a hand­ful of Hogs fans.

In that game Tony Bua had 13 tack­les, Ed­die Jack­son added 10 and a to­tal of 11 Ra­zor­backs had at least 4 tack­les.

Fred Tal­ley rushed for 113 yards, Jones for 110 and Cedric Cobbs had 100.

The Ra­zor­backs ran 106 plays and 80 of them on the ground. Arkansas con­verted 16 of 26 third downs and were 3 for 3 on fourth downs. It was a to­tal team ef­fort on both sides of the ball. The of­fen­sive line al­lowed zero sacks and only two tack­les for loss in what be­came an in­stant clas­sic.

It re­ceived the No. 1 vote as most mem­o­rable game of this Sil­ver An­niver­sary se­ries by your trusty scribe.

Nei­ther team was ranked but it was the fourth con­sec­u­tive vic­tory for the Hogs who had started 1-3 and the lone vic­tory was against UNLV, a 14-10 es­cape — uglier than a Seat­tle rain­storm — when ev­ery Ra­zor­backs quar­ter­back but one — Matt Jones — saw ac­tion.

Ole Miss came into the game 6-1 and rid­ing a fiveg­ame vic­tory streak in­clud­ing a 35-24 vic­tory at LSU the week be­fore. The Rebels then lost the next two games and both teams fin­ished the sea­son 7-4.

It was not a great sea­son, but it was a great game, and in the mind of at least one the most mem­o­rable game in the past 25 years.

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