Alabama Slips Past Arkansas In Fourth Quarter Despite Ugly Performance
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – For the second straight week, Alabama’s fate wasn’t decided until after a pivotal fourth quarter on the road played out. And when it did, this time, the result was different.
The No. 7 Crimson Tide overcame a multitude of turnovers on held strong on defense in the fourth quarter to escape with a 14-13 victory over Arkansas on Saturday night.
Leading by a point with the help of a blocked extra point earlier in the game, the Alabama defense forced two three-and-outs, a turnover on downs on a fourth-and-1 play and intercepted a pass on the Razorbacks’ final four drives to hold onto the win.
“The things that we wanted to try to do today is play harder than the other team, compete and be more relentless in the game than the other team, do a better job of executing – which is a part that we probably didn’t do,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “But from an intangible standpoint, our players really played hard in this game, really overcome a lot of adversity.
“So you could say that we made a lot of mistakes which we did, but we overcame them in the game.”
Alabama took the final lead of the game when quarterback Blake Sims found DeAndrew White in the end zone for a 6-yard score with 12:36 left in the fourth quarter. Landon Collins’ interception off Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen allowed the Crimson Tide to run out the final two minutes.
“My teammates told me nobody was there, so I had to make a play,” Collins said.
Arkansas, which had lost 52-0 in each of the last two seasons against Alabama, made it clear that wouldn’t fall by that score for a third straight year early, limiting the Crimson Tide to just six offensive plays in the first quarter.
Then, after Alabama opened the scoring on Sims’ 22-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Yeldon, Arkansas scored 13 unanswered to take the lead into the final quarter, before White’s touchdown won it. Defensive end Jonathan Allen’s blocked extra point after the Razorbacks’ first touchdown also proved to be the difference.
“Obviously, our team was very disappointed and responded well, I think, to what happened a week ago," Saban said. "It's tough on the road in this league, and our division is really, really difficult. There's no easy games."
Alabama fumbled four times – all on special teams – with the first two recovered by Arkansas on punt returns. Last week, a late fumble on a kick return set up Ole Miss’ game-winning touchdown in its 23-17 win over the Crimson Tide.
“We practice this stuff all the time,” Saban said. “I think the returners have to do a better job of making the players aware of where the ball is. Because our guys stand back and they give the signal to get away from the ball, but nobody knows where the ball is. So we need to get that corrected, that’s been a real problem for us.”
Alabama was outgained 335-227 but also forced three turnovers of its own. In addition to Collins’ interception, Trey DePriest forced a fumble that rolled out of the back of the end zone for a touchback just before Arkansas’ Kody Walker crossed the goal line and A’Shawn Robinson forced another that was recovered by Ryan Anderson to set up Alabama’s opening score.
Alabama’s 227 total yards was its worst offensive output of the season but for now Saban is pleased with the win after last week’s finish.
“I’m really proud of the way our players competed in the game, how they hung in there in the end, did a fantastic job,” he said.