No. 1 Alabama Downs No. 10 Arkansas, 24-20
Sept. 25, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - The No. 1 ranked Alabama football team won its Southeastern Conference opener Saturday afternoon, posting a hard-fought 24-20 victory over No. 10 Arkansas at Razorback Stadium. The Crimson Tide improves to 4-0 on the season and 1-0 in the conference while the Razorbacks fall to 3-1 overall and 1-1 in SEC play.
Junior running back Mark Ingram rushed for 157 yards on 24 attempts and scored two touchdowns. The 2009 Heisman Trophy winner scored the go-ahead touchdown from one yard out with 3:18 left to play in the game to give Alabama its first and final lead of the game.
Trailing the Razorbacks, 20-17, with just under five minutes remaining, junior safety Robert Lester intercepted Ryan Mallet for the second time to set up Alabama's game-winning drive at the Arkansas 12-yard line. From there, Ingram took two snaps out of the wildcat formation to give Alabama a first-and-goal from the one yard line. Ingram then took the handoff from senior quarterback Greg McElroy and found the end zone for the game winner. Sophomore Dre Kirkpatrick intercepted a Mallett pass with 1:48 left in the game to bring an end to Arkansas' last scoring chance.
McElroy finished the game 18-of-26 for 197 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions. Sophomore running back Trent Richardson rushed eight times for 85 yards and had two receptions for 25 yards and a touchdown. Junior receiver Julio Jones lead the Tide receiving corps with five catches for 55 yards.
Arkansas jumped out to quick 7-0 lead by scoring on the game's opening drive in only 50 seconds. After a 25-yard kickoff return put Arkansas on its 26-yard line, Mallet hit Jarius Wright for a 31-yard reception to the Alabama 43 yard line. On the next play, Mallet found Ronnie Wingo for a 43-yard score.
After trading punts on the next two possessions, Ingram put the Crimson Tide on the scoreboard with a weaving 54-yard touchdown run, his longest of the season, with 6:21 left in the first quarter. A 31-yard field goal by Arkansas' Zach Hocker gave Arkansas the 10-7 lead with 1:42 left in the opening frame.
Just before halftime, Mallet punched in a 1-yard touchdown run to give the Razorbacks a 17-7 lead.
Like the first half, Arkansas was first to score in the second. Following an Alabama punt that left the Razorbacks on their own 16-yard line, Mallet took the offense 53 yards on 11 plays, punctuated by another field goal from Hocker, this time from 48 yards out. It would be the last time Arkansas would score.
On the next drive, McElroy found Jones for a key third down conversion to extend the drive at the Arkansas 41-yard line. Rushes of nine and 19 yards by Ingram set up a McElroy-to-Richardson 20-yard scoring reception to bring the Tide to within six points with 44 seconds left in the third quarter. The Alabama defense held strong from there and sophomore kicker Jeremy Shelley connected on a 36-yard field goal to put Tide three points closer before Lester intercepted Mallet to set up the game-winning drive.
Alabama returns home to Bryant-Denny Stadium next Saturday to face Florida. The game will be televised at 7 p.m. CDT on CBS.