On an early November day in 2001, the Razorbacks traveled to Oxford, MS to do battle in another SEC football game. Houston Nutt had taken his 4-3 team to once again face the David CutCliffe coached 6-1 Rebels of Ole Miss in Vaught-Hemingway Stadium before a crowd of 47,464 fans. The game itself featured the offensive running of Cedric Cobbs and Fred Talley joined by relief quarterback Matt Jones. Mississippi had a famous quarterback of their own named Eli Manning.
The game itself started as any ordinary game on any ordinary fall Saturday in the SEC. Arkansas received and after only one first down was forced to punt from its own 37. The Rebels received the punt and started their first possession drive at their own 20. Manning stepped in and promptly moved them down the field where they scored as Joe Gunn dove in from the one with just under eight minutes left in the first quarter.
The score stayed 7-0 Mississippi for nearly the rest of the first half until Hog starting quarterback Zak Clark engineered a 13 play 80 yard drive late in the second quarter. With time running out in the half, Cobbs made his way over the right side and into the end zone for six with less than twenty seconds left. The extra point was good by Brennan O'Donohoe.
The second half would begin as a new game with the score tied at seven all. On their first possession, the Rebels were able to move to the Arkansas two yard line. Arkansas' defense would hold, forcing a missed 20 yard field goal attempt. The Hogs would now take over and move to the Rebel 28 yard line, when on second and 8 Talley would fumble turning the ball over to Mississippi.
After Ole Miss went three and out, the Hogs would take over on the Ole Miss 43 yard line. The Hogs were able to move into position to make a 46 yard O'Donohoe field goal on a fourth and 7 from the 28. This would be the Hog's first lead of the day at 10-7. On the ensuing kickoff Mississippi returned the ball to the Razorback 40 yard line. Manning would now go to work moving the Rebels to the Arkansas 14. Again the defense held while forcing Mississippi to settle for a 32 yard field goal knotting the score at 10 each.
The fourth quarter would see Matt Jones come in replacing starting quarterback Zak Clark. Arkansas would score first with a two yard run up the middle by fullback Mark Pierce with 10:18 left in the game. Arkansas 17- Mississippi 10. With 4:50 left in the game, Manning would tie it up with a three yard scoring pass of his own from the right side to Jamie Armstrong. Regulation would end with the score Arkansas 17, Mississippi 17. Once again it was OVERTIME. This was the Hog's third overtime game with the first two ending with victories over Mississippi State.
The first overtime period resulted with a 16 yard run by Cobbs, followed by an 11 yard pass from Manning to Jason Armstead to force a second overtime. Hogs 24, Rebels 24.
After a scoreless second overtime, both teams were faced with the third in the series. Hogs 24, Rebels 24.
The next three overtime periods would find each team scoring touchdowns, but falling short in converting their two point conversions. During this stretch, Jones would score on a 25 yard run from the right side in the third overtime. In the fourth overtime, he would hit George Wilson for a 24 yard TD again from the right side. However during the fifth overtime, Jones would score on an 8 yard run from the left. As the numbers formed, the scoreboard would now display 42 all.
It had now reached overtime six and Manning would hit Doug Zeigler for a touchdown off of play action. Two points would be tacked on by Charles Stackhouse when he found the end zone over left tackle. Pierce answered with a two yard run for six. Jones scrambled to his left and added the necessary two points with a pass to Jason Peters in the back of the end zone. It was now 50-50.
Overtime seven. The fans and players were all wondering "Would it never end?" The Hogs once again had possession and Pierce, for the second time in OT, found scoring territory from the two. Throwing off of his back foot, Jones found DeCori Birmingham in the end zone giving the Hogs a 58-50 lead.
With their possession, Manning hit Armstead twice for three yards each with the second leading to six points from the three. The scoreboard was lit up and showing Arkansas 58, Mississippi 56. It had come down to making the two point conversion, or going home. Manning brought the Rebels up to the line. Ball is snapped. Manning quickly throws a do or die pass to Zeigler on the one. Immediately linebacker Jermaine Petty stops Zeigler with a courageous tackle before he was able to find the promised land. The game had finally ended with the ball lying at the one and a score of Arkansas 58, Mississippi 56. The players were spent, there was nothing left. What started out as an ordinary game was now the longest football game in NCAA history. During the midst of it all, the teams had also set a NCAA Division 1 record for the most points scored during an overtime (80).
After four and a half hours, Arkansas would end with 370 yards rushing, 161 yards passing for 531 yards of total offense. On that day, Fred Talley would rush for 114 yards, Cedric Cobbs for 100 yards, and Matt Jones for 110 yards placing three players with over the century mark in rushing. Ole Miss' final tally was 166 yards rushing, 312 yards passing for a total offense of 457 yards.
Join us next month on the 6th as we remember another Razorback football tale on hawg-tales.