Alabama 41, Arkansas 38
By John Zenor, AP Sports Writer
September 16, 2007
TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (AP) -- Alabama summoned up one huge defensive stand,
a last-minute drive led by John Parker Wilson and Matt Caddell and a
final, game-winning pass into the end zone.
Matt Cadell catches the game-winning
touchdown over Arkansas defender Jamar Love.
Welcome to the Nick Saban era, 'Bama fans.
Caddell caught a 4-yard touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone
from Wilson with 8 seconds left, lifting the Crimson Tide to a 41-38
victory over No. 16 Arkansas on Saturday night, winning Saban's first
big one at Alabama.
"It was an exciting night, huh?" Saban said.
Certainly for Alabama. The Tide (3-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference)
survived a relentless onslaught from Arkansas tailback Darren
McFadden, and made a sideline decision that worked perfectly.
After twice blowing 21-point leads, Alabama moved down the field
from its own 27 over the final 2:13, mostly on the Wilson-to-Caddell
Wilson hit Caddell across the middle for a 19-yard completion and
two 9-yarders to move the ball across midfield. Kevin Woods and
Matterral Richardson were both whistled for pass interference,
Richardson on a third-and-9 play, to set Alabama up with a first
down at the 13.
After Wilson hit Keith Brown for a 9-yarder, he found a leaping
Caddell in the left side of the end zone two plays later, sending
the crowd into a frenzy and prompting a celebratory pileup on the
"I knew if I got it up there and gave him a chance, he'd make a
play," said Wilson, who was 7-for-8 for 56 yards on the final drive.
"I got the ball outside and gave Matt a chance to make the play,
and he did."
The Tide's decision to settle for Leigh Tiffin's 42-yard field goal
to make it 38-34 paid off when Arkansas was stopped on its next
possession. McFadden sat out the series with a a slight concussion,
coach Houston Nutt said.
"I did have confidence that we could stop them," Saban said. "I
asked the players on the sidelines, 'Can we stop them?' They said
they could, so I believed them. And they did.
"It was the right thing to do."
Casey Dick's 7-yard touchdown pass, his third of the game, to Peyton
Hillis with 8:08 left gave Arkansas its first lead. It was set up by
McFadden's 20-yard run and a 32-yarder by Felix Jones on consecutive
"I thought that we started playing football like we know how to play
it," Nutt said. "We showed a lot of heart and a lot of character. I
really thought this was our game."
Arkansas had trailed 31-10 late in the third quarter, but capitalized
on a fumble and interception by Wilson. McFadden rushed for two
fourth-quarter touchdowns, and finished with 195 yards on 33 carries.
"I felt like our team did not play in the second half like we needed
to play," Saban said. "We melted down a little bit, which to me is
you drop your guard psychologically."
Alabama countered McFadden with Wilson's passing. He completed
24-of-45 passes for career highs of 327 yards and four touchdowns,
but was intercepted twice. Caddell had nine catches for 91 yards
and DJ Hall gained a career-high 172 yards on just six receptions.
He passed Ozzie Newsome to become the Tide's all-time leading
receiver with a 44-yarder on the Tide's first offensive play.
"This is one of those victories that you just hope and pray for the
best," Alabama defensive end Wallace Gilberry said.
Terry Grant gained 96 yards on 20 carries for the Tide. Jones ran 16
times for 96 yards for the Razorbacks, who gained 301 yards rushing,
mostly in the second half.