(8) Alabama beats Arkansas, 27-14
- rolltide.com
October 10, 2015

Calvin Ridley (3) hauls in a pass for the Tide's first touchdown on an 81-yard reception during the third quarter.
Photo Credit - rolltide.com
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. - The University of Alabama Crimson Tide football team (5-1 overall; 2-1 in the Southeastern Conference) turned in a gritty performance on Saturday night to defeat the Arkansas Razorbacks (2-4 overall; 1-2 SEC), 27-14, in the 2015 Homecoming game before a capacity crowd of 101,821 at Bryant-Denny Stadium on the Alabama campus.

Alabama erased a 7-3 deficit late in the third quarter on an 81-yard pass from quarterback Jake Coker to wide receiver Calvin Ridley, a play that ignited an offense that had struggled to finish drives most of the game to that point. That score, with 1:39 left in the third period, turned the game in Alabama's favor as the Crimson Tide stopped an Arkansas drive at the Hogs' 43 on the ensuing possession and marched to a touchdown on a 3-yard pass from Coker to wideout Richard Mullaney for a 17-7 lead. After an Eddie Jackson interception for the Tide a few plays later, Alabama tacked on a 35-yard Adam Griffith field goal for a 20-7 edge with 10:07 left in the fourth quarter. Derrick Henry added a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:44 left, marking the 11th consecutive game in which he has scored on the ground, to give the Tide the final 27-7 victory margin.

Arkansas' first touchdown came in the second quarter on a four-yard pass by quarterback Brandon Allen to wide receiver Drew Morgan after the Hogs took possession at the Tide 12 following an interception. Arkansas added a late 54-yard touchdown pass by Allen to wide receiver Dominique Reed with 1:37 left in the game.

Led by linebacker Reggie Ragland's eight tackles (seven solos), Alabama's defensive was unyielding, allowing only 220 total yards to the Razorbacks (176 passing, 44 rushing) while allowing just 1.8 yards per rush. Ragland also had one quarterback sack, broke up a pass, had two quarterback hurries and forced a fumble.

The Tide offense gained 396 total yards, including 134 on the ground against one of the nation's top rushing defenses. Coker completed 24 of 33 passes for 262 yards and two touchdowns with two interceptions. Ridley caught nine passes for 140 yards and a touchdown. Henry rushed for 95 yards and a touchdown on 27 carries.

Alabama punter JK Scott averaged 50.0 yards per punt on four attempts, placing two inside the Arkansas 20-yard line.

Katelyn Katsafanas was honored as the 2015 Homecoming Queen during halftime of Saturday's Alabama Homecoming game against Arkansas, as the Crimson Tide honored a number of people associated with the celebration. Katsafanas was crowned by 2014 Homecoming Queen Allison Montgomery and Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.

First Quarter

The Tide won the toss and deferred their option to the second half. Arkansas received the opening kickoff. On the first play the Razorbacks gained 15 yards on a completed pass to wide receiver Jojo Robinson from quarterback Brandon Allen. The Razorbacks tried to pound their way against the Tide but the Alabama defense responded and forced an Arkansas punt that was fair caught by Cyrus Jones at the Tide 13.

Alabama quarterback Jake Coker came out on fire, completing his first five passes, leading the Tide on an 80-yard march in 13 plays that led to a 24-yard field goal by Adam Griffith for a 3-0 lead. Coker started the drive with a 6-yard pass to wide receiver Calvin Ridley to the Tide 19. A pass to running back Kenyan Drake gained 10 to the Tide 29. After a run by Drake was stopped for no gain, Coker kept for 7 yards around right end to the Tide 36. A pass to tight end O.J. Howard gained 7 yards on first down, then a pass to wide receiver Richard Mullaney gained nine to the Arkansas 48. On a second-and-10 at the Arkansas 47, Coker completed a screen to wide receiver ArDarius Stewart who turned the short pass into a 37-yard gain to the Arkansas 10. After two rushes by running back Derrick Henry gained seven yards to the Arkansas 3, an incompletion in the end zone intended for Howard forced the 25-yard attempt by Griffith, which he converted with 7:09 left in the first quarter for a 3-0 Alabama lead.

After Alabama forced an Arkansas punt, the Tide composed another scoring threat, driving 60 yards in 14 plays on a march that consumed the final 5:35 of the first quarter and ended with 14:46 left in the second period. That march consisted of nine running plays, including five for 22 yards by Henry and two for 12 by Drake. A run by Coker for six yards on a third-and-one play gave the Tide a first down at the Arkansas 13. The quarter ended with Alabama facing second-and-five at the Arkansas 8.

Second Quarter

With the Tide on the Arkansas 8-yard line, Coker threw two incomplete passes. Griffith came in the kick a 25-yard field goal, but missed wide right.

Arkansas took possession at its 20. On the first play, Allen threw for 21 yards to wide receiver Jeremy Sprinkle, but the drive stalled when Alabama linebacker Rashaan Evans sacked Allen for a 5-yard loss. After the Crimson Tide could not get anything going offensively, Arkansas defensive back Josh Liddell intercepted a Coker pass on the 31-yard line.

Alabama's defense held, causing another three-and-out, but the Razorbacks' defense intercepted another pass by Coker. This pickoff, by defensive back Santos Ramirez at the Tide 42, was intended for the Tide's Richard Mullaney. Ramirez returned it 18 yards to the Tide 24, and the ball was moved to the Tide 12 via an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Alabama.

From the Tide 12, Arkansas moved to a touchdown in three plays as Allen converted a four-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Drew Morgan with 1:29 left in the half to put Arkansas up 7-3 with the extra point kicked by Cole Hedlund.

In the waning moments of the first half, Alabama began the final possession of the second period at its 27. The Tide moved 42 yards in seven plays highlighted by a series of short completions by Coker, who completed six-of-six passes for 35 yards on the march. With six seconds to go, Alabama called timeout and sent Griffith to attempt a 48-yard field goal, but the kick missed wide right.

The half ended with the Razorbacks leading, 7-3.

Third Quarter

The teams exchanged punts for most of the third period before Alabama produced a big play that would change the course of the game.

Alabama took the second-half kickoff and reached the Arkansas 48 before being forced to punt. That set off a series of possessions that would end in similar fashion. After an Arkansas punt was fair caught by Jones at the Tide 19 with 1:50 left in the period, Alabama's offense took flight. Coker faked a handoff and dropped deep to pass. He launched a long pass down the middle of the field to Ridley, who was behind the Arkansas secondary and hauled in the pass around the Hogs' 35-yard line. From there, Ridley raced to the end zone for a touchdown. Griffith's extra-point kick was good and the Tide took a 10-7 lead with 1:39 left in the third quarter.

On the next Arkansas possession, Alabama forced another punting situation. But Arkansas punter Toby Baker tried to run the ball on a fake punt. He only gained two of the five yards needed as Alabama's Shawn Burgess-Becker stopped him at the Arkansas 43-yard line to give the Tide the ball. Henry rushed for a yard on first down as the quarter ended.

Fourth Quarter

Two incomplete passes by Alabama began the quarter, but a defensive holding penalty on Arkansas on the second play (third-and-9 at the Arkansas 42) set up the Tide with a first down at the Hogs' 32-yard line. Henry carried for a yard before Coker kept at left tackle for 15 yards to a first down at the Arkansas 16. Drake gained seven yards at right end to the Arkansas 9 before another Drake run for six yards set up the Tide with first-and-goal at the three-yard line. From there, Coker hit Mullaney on a 3-yard touchdown pass. Griffith's kick was good and Alabama had a 17-7 lead with 12:49 left.

On the second play after the kickoff, Tide cornerback Eddie Jackson intercepted Allen's pass at the Arkansas 33 and returned it 20 yards to set up the Alabama offense at the Hogs' 13 with 11:52 left. Henry gained six yards on first down before losing three yards on second down. On a third-and-seven from the Arkansas 10, Coker was sacked by Mitchell Loewen for a loss of seven to the Arkansas 17. Griffith came in to try a 35-yard field goal, which he made to give the Tide a 20-7 lead with 10:07 left.

Alabama's stifling defense forced another Arkansas punt after three plays followed by Arkansas forcing an Alabama three-and-out, taking possession with 6:24 on the clock. Three plays lost seven yards, forcing another Hogs punt. The 41-yard punt by Baker was fielded by Jones at the Arkansas 43 and he returned it 27 yards to the Hogs' 16.

With 4:49 remaining, Alabama took over and drove to the clinching score by moving 16 yards in four plays. A 15-yard run around left end by Henry on a third-and-10 from the 16 set up the score. Henry plunged into the end zone at right guard on a 1-yard touchdown run with 2:44 left. Griffith's kick was good to give the Tide a 27-7 lead.

Arkansas responded with its best offensive drive of the night, bolting 74 yards in five plays to a touchdown. A pass from Allen to Hunter Henry gained 18 yards. The Hogs scored when Allen found Dominique Reed open along the sideline for a 54-yard pass and run. Cole Hedlund's conversion kick was good and the Alabama lead was narrowed to 27-14 with 1:37 left.

An onside kick attempt by Arkansas went for naught as Jones recovered it for the Tide at the Alabama 46. The Tide offense ran out the remaining 1:37 of game time to seal the victory.

Alabama continues its season next Saturday, October 17, against Texas A&M (5-0 overall; 2-0 in the SEC) at Kyle Field in College Station, Texas. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. Central Time and the game will be televised by CBS Sports.