It takes some gutsy calls to beat a team as talented as No. 2 Alabama. And Sam Pittman was ready to dial up a seriously gutsy call.
Facing a 4th-and-9 with about 11:39 left in the game, No. 21 Arkansas sent its field goal unit out to attempt a 49-yard field goal. But punter Reid Bauer instead took the snap and ran up the middle before leaping and sending a jump pass to tight end Blake Kern. Kern made a one-handed grab on the pass and took it 32 yards to the Alabama end zone for a touchdown.
The touchdown and subsequent PAT made it a 34-28 game.
Arkansas’s drive to end the third quarter and start the fourth seemed to have plenty of momentum, but a few penalties toward the end stalled the drive. Facing a 3rd-and-1 from the Alabama 24-yard line, the Razorbacks were handed a five-yard penalty on a false start to move them back five yards. Quarterback KJ Jefferson rushed ahead two yards on the next play to set up a 4th-and-4.
Pittman originally told his team to go for it, but another false start penalty moved his team back another five yards, forcing him to bring out the field goal unit.
It was the second time this season a team has drawn up a fake play on special times against Alabama. On Nov. 6, LSU punter Avery Atkins looked like he was going to boot it away with the Tigers facing a 4th-and-4, but instead, he rushed ahead and completed a jump pass for a 26-yard gain to tight end Jack Mashburn to give the Tigers a first down.
Arkansas battled the Tide til the end but fell 42-35. Alabama clinched a berth in the SEC championship game with the win and will face No. 1 Georgia in two weeks.