Arkansas upsets No. 18 Ole Miss in OT on 2-point conversion
OXFORD, Miss. — Brandon Allen had already thrown for a career-high 442 yards and six touchdowns when Arkansas coach Bret Bielema asked his senior quarterback to do just one more thing.
To no one’s surprise, he delivered.
Allen ran for a game-winning 2-point conversion, leaping past an Ole Miss defender at the goal line, to lead Arkansas to an improbable 53-52 overtime victory over the 19th-ranked Rebels on Saturday night.
"I can’t say enough about our quarterback," Bielema said. "He’s a gladiator through and through."
Arkansas (5-4, 3-2) pulled off the victory thanks to two wild plays in overtime that left Vaught-Hemingway Stadium in stunned silence, except for jubilant Arkansas players and coaches who flooded the field.
The Razorbacks kept the game alive in overtime on fourth-and-25 when Allen completed a pass to Hunter Henry, who flung the ball backward and Alex Collins picked it up on the bounce and then ran it for a 31-yard gain. He fumbled at the end of the play but teammate Dominique Reed recovered.
Bielema called the play "divine intervention." Ole Miss probably has another name for it.
"I’ve never had a game like this before," Allen said.
Collins not surprisingly called the play "crazy."
College football NEVER disappoints. How did Arkansas pull off this 1st Down? https://t.co/VNr9K99O7r
— SEConCBS (@SEConCBS) November 8, 2015
"If I had been in Henry’s position, I wouldn’t have thought of it," Collins said. "Next thing I knew the ball was in the sky, it landed in my hands, and I ran for my life."
Then, even more craziness. After Arkansas scored its overtime touchdown on a 9-yard pass from Allen to Drew Morgan, its first attempt at the 2-point conversion failed but Ole Miss’ Marquis Haynes was called for a face-mask penalty, which gave the Razorbacks another chance.
On the next play, Allen ran it into the end zone.
Ole Miss (7-3, 4-2, No. 18 CFP) lost despite three passing touchdowns and three rushing touchdowns by Chad Kelly.
"It’s tough," the quarterback said. "It’s really tough. Everybody played really hard — offense, defense, special teams. Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way."
Even before overtime, it was a crazy game that featured eight straight scoring drives at one point. Arkansas finished with 605 total yards and Ole Miss had 590.
Arkansas has built its reputation as a power-running team, but was very good through the air against the Rebels.
The Razorbacks have thrown more than usual this year — Allen came into the game as the league’s third-leading passer — but they really kicked it up a notch against a flat-footed Ole Miss secondary.
Allen was nearly flawless in the first two quarters, completing 15 of 19 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns. Kelly was pretty good, too, with 142 yards passing and an 11-yard touchdown run.
Arkansas took a 17-14 lead with 43 seconds left in the first half on a 45-yard field goal by Cole Hedlund, but Ole Miss drove right down the field and, aided by an Arkansas pass interference penalty, responded with its own 37-yard field goal by Gary Wunderlich to tie it at 17.
The scoring continued in the third quarter with two touchdowns for each team. Kody Walker’s 3-yard touchdown run for Arkansas tied the game at 31 late in the third.
Ole Miss looked like it might take control when Kelly hit Quincy Adeboyejo for a 17-yard touchdown to give the Rebels a 45-38 lead with 4:55 remaining. But Arkansas responded with its own 17-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Reed with 53 seconds left to tie it at 45.
Ole Miss took a 52-45 lead on Kelly’s 8-yard touchdown in overtime, but it wasn’t enough. Kelly finished with 368 passing yards and a career-high 110 yards rushing.
Arkansas made the bold call to go for the conversion in the first overtime and it worked out, leading the Razorbacks to their second straight win in the series.
"Our offense was really clicking," Bielema said. "I just didn’t want to put our defense back out on the field."