By Scott Latta
UA Media Relations
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. ??The Alabama offense raced out to a 21-0 lead Saturday against Arkansas and scored a game-winning touchdown with eight seconds left in the game to cap a come-from-behind shootout win against the Razorbacks (1-1, 0-1 SEC), 41-38, at Bryant-Denny Stadium. On third-and-one at the Arkansas 4-yard line, junior quarterback John Parker Wilson found senior receiver Matt Caddell in the end zone for the game-winning score for Alabama, which improved to 3-0 this season, 2-0 in the Southeastern Conference.
“I’m certainly proud of the way our players played the game,” Alabama head Coach Nick Saban said. “We always talk about playing for 60 minutes in the game and when you score a touchdown with eight seconds to go in the game, it’s an easy way to reinforce a point. This is a tremendous victory for the University of Alabama, a tremendous victory for our players and our fans.”
Trailing 38-31 with 8:08 to go in the game, Wilson led the Tide offense on a 12-play, 46-yard drive that ended with a 42-yard field goal from freshman Leigh Tiffin to draw the Tide to within 38-34. After forcing an Arkansas punt, Alabama got the ball back with just over two minutes to go at its own 27-yard line. Wilson then led the Tide to the Arkansas four-yard line before hitting Caddell for the game-winner.
“[I was] really just focusing on making that catch,” Caddell said. “That’s all. I knew where I had to get it. [John Parker] had faith in me and threw the ball where I could make a play on it. It was just a great play.”
“We went out there and I told the guys ??Let’s go win it. Why not?’” Wilson said.
Wilson ended the night 24-of-45 for 327 yards and four touchdowns. Caddell caught a career-high nine passes for 91 yards and a score, and senior DJ Hall caught six passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns, all of which were in the first half. Hall’s performance gives him 2,206 receiving yards in his Alabama career. On the first play of the game, Hall reeled in a 43-yard pass from Wilson to break former receiver Ozzie Newsome’s all-time receiving record at Alabama.
“Ozzie Newsome was a great player and a Hall of Fame guy and when you break somebody like that’s record you know you’ve accomplished something significant,” Saban said.
The Alabama offense raced out to an early three-touchdown lead with three first quarter touchdown drives of less than two minutes each. After a Darren Mustin interception gave Alabama the ball at the Arkansas nine-yard line, Wilson hit Hall in the end zone two plays later to give the Tide an early 7-0 lead less than seven minutes into the game. Starting its next possession at the Alabama 26, Wilson then led the Tide on a six-play, 74-yard scoring drive that ended on a 14-yard touchdown run from sophomore Glen Coffee. Less than three minutes later, Alabama scored on a four-play, 80-yard drive that ended on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Hall. Arkansas cut the Alabama lead to 21-10 at the half and withheld a third-quarter field goal from Tiffin and a two-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to tight end Nick Walker, which extended Alabama’s lead to 31-10.
The Razorbacks scored 28 unanswered points to take a 38-31 lead before Alabama’s final two scoring drives. Arkansas running back Darren McFadden led all players with 33 rushes for 195 yards and two touchdowns on the ground, and junior Felix Jones had 16 carries for 96 yards. Quarterback Casey Dick was 11-of-23 for 145 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was real proud of our team,” Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. “I thought that we started playing football like we know how to play it. We showed a lot of heart and a lot of character.”
Tide freshman Terry Grant rushed 20 times for 96 yards and sophomore Glen Coffee had seven carries for 34 yards and a touchdown. Alabama and Arkansas each had 450 yards of total offense in the game. Alabama returns to Tuscaloosa next Saturday when the Crimson Tide takes on the Georgia Bulldogs (2-1, 0-1 SEC). Kickoff time will be determined Sunday.