FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. ?? The University of Alabama football team suffered its first loss of the season Saturday in double overtime, 24-23, against Arkansas at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Mitch Mustain threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ben Cleveland in the second overtime and Jeremy Davis made the extra point to give Arkansas a 24-23 victory over Alabama on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide took a 23-17 lead on a 1-yard pass from John Parker Wilson to Nick Walker, but freshman kicker Leigh Tiffin missed the extra point and Arkansas answered with a touchdown of its own. Walker's touchdown catch was his first career touchdown and third catch of his career. Tiffin had already missed a 33-yard field goal attempt in the first half, a 30-yarder late in the fourth quarter and a 37-yarder that would have won it in the first overtime.
Arkansas faced third down at the 11 on its final possession, but Cleveland came down with Mustain's pass in the end zone to tie it. Davis had missed an extra point himself in the third quarter but connected to give the Razorbacks the victory.
Alabama (3-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) has now lost twice to Arkansas in double overtime. The Razorbacks beat the Crimson Tide 34-31 in 2003.
"This is a heartbreaking loss," Alabama coach Mike Shula said. "It's tough to swallow. Things happened every quarter both good and bad."
Arkansas appeared doomed on two different occasions. Alabama was driving in the fourth quarter, but after reaching the Razorbacks' 9-yard line, the Crimson Tide ran the ball three straight times. Tiffin, who had made a 46-yard field goal at the end of the second quarter, missed with 3:06 remaining in the fourth.
In the first overtime, Mustain's deep pass was intercepted by Lionel Mitchell, who returned it to around midfield. After that, Alabama again ran three straight times and Tiffin missed the same way he missed his other kicks, wide right.
Tiffin's fourth-quarter kick was the margin in the Crimson Tide's 13-10 win over Vanderbilt two weekends ago. He's been handling placekicking duties because of an injury to Jamie Christensen, who made three winning kicks late in the fourth quarter last year.
"Jamie hasn't had enough reps," Shula said. "I didn't want to put him in a rough situation. Leigh kicked a 46-yard field goal into the wind."
Wilson, a sophomore, was nearly flawless in his first road start. He went 16-of-20 for 243 yards and three touchdowns, including a 78-yard scoring pass to DJ Hall in the second quarter that made it 7-3. The touchdown was the longest of both Wilson’s and Hall’s careers and was the 10th longest touchdown pass in school history. It also capped the first 99-yard scoring drive since Oct. 9, 2004, when the Crimson Tide drove 99 yards to score against Kentucky.
Alabama went on to lead 10-3 at halftime, but Arkansas scored on Darren McFadden's 3-yard run early in the third quarter.
Davis missed the extra point, leaving the score at 10-9, but Randy Kelly returned Wilson's fumble 39 yards for a touchdown later in the period and Mustain threw to McFadden for a 2-point conversion to make it 17-10.
That was Arkansas' first takeaway of the season. The Razorbacks were the last team in Division I-A to force a turnover.
Wilson threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Keith Brown with 13:36 remaining to tie it at 17.
Alabama is 2-6 in overtime games and hasn't won one since 1999 when they defeated Florida 40-39.
Hall had six catches for 144 yards and Brown finished with seven grabs for 97 yards. McFadden ran for 112 for the Razorbacks.
Alabama is at No. 5 Florida next weekend for a SEC contest that is scheduled to begin at 2:30 CT. The game will be the second straight contest for the Crimson Tide that will be televised by CBS.