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College Football Classic Rewind: Tide’s Missed Kicks Give Victory to ‘Hogs

Posted on September 19, 2011 by A.J. Foss

To fans of the Alabama Crimson Tide, the last name “Tiffin” is considered as royalty because that is the last name of former kicker Van Tiffin, who made a 52-yard field goal as time expired to give ‘Bama a 25-23 victory over arch rival Auburn in the 1985 “Iron Bowl”.

But after the Tide’s 2006 game with the Arkansas Razorbacks, most Alabama fans probably cringed when they heard the last name “Tiffin”.

Alabama entered the game with a 3-0 record and a #22 ranking as they traveled to Fayetteville, Arkansas for their first road game of the season.

The Tide were under the direction of head coach Mike Shula, who was in his fourth season as the Tide head coach and was coming off a 10-2 season the year before.

Alabama had 13 starters back from that team including running back Kenneth Darby and kicker Jamie Christensen, who made three game-winning field goals for the Tide in 2005.

But right before the start of the regular season, Christensen pulled a groin muscle and would be out of action for the first few games of the season.

That left the job to freshman walk-on Leigh Tiffin, son of ‘Bama hero Van Tiffin, to take the reins of the field goal kicker.

Tiffin filled the role quite nicely in the Tide’s first three game as he made seven out of nine field goal attempts, including a 47-yard game-winning field goal against Vanderbilt in the second game of the season.

While it seemed the future looked bright for Shula, the future was uncertain for Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt as he was coming off two losing seasons in Fayetteville and was on the hot seat as the 2006 season began.

But there was hope for the ‘Hogs in ’06, as a new offensive coordinator and the running back duo of Darren McFadden and Felix Jones, gave optimisms’ that Arkansas would rebound with a winning season.

However, after a 50-14 loss to USC in the season opener and unimpressive wins against Utah State and Vanderbilt, Nutt was in need of a victory against the Tide.

Both teams traded punts until the Razorbacks’ second possession when Arkansas took over in ‘Bama territory and drove 30 yards in 10 plays, with McFadden carry it six times for 25 yards.

The drive ended with Jeremy Davis kicking a 24-yard field goal to give the Razorbacks a 3-0 lead with 4:43 left in the first quarter.

Alabama responded to the field goal with their first good drive of the game as they drove 55 yards in 10 plays before the Tide stalled on the Arkansas 16-yard-line.

Tiffin came on to attempt a potential game-tying 33-yard field goal, but he was wide right and the score remained 3-0 early in the second quarter.

However, the Crimson Tide would get on the scoreboard on their next offensive possession when quarterback John Parker Wilson fired a deep pass to D.J. Hall, who made the catch and ran it in to complete a 78-yard touchdown to give Alabama a 7-3 lead.

The Tide would add to their lead before the end of the half as Tiffin was able to make a 46-yard field goal as time expired to increase Alabama’s lead to 10-3 at halftime.

Arkansas got the ball to start the second half and put together a 13-play, 93-yard drive with McFadden getting the ball nine times for 51 yards on the drive, the last carry being a 3-yard touchdown run.

But Davis missed the extra point so the Razorbacks were still behind, now by the score of 10-9.

Then on the first play of their next offensive possession, the Razorbacks committed their first turnover of the game when Simeon Castile intercepted a pass from quarterback Mitch Mustain and returned it 16 yards to the Arkansas 45-yard-line.

But two plays later, the Arkansas defense rose up and made a huge play as linebacker Antwain Robinson sacked Wilson and forced a fumble, which was recovered by strong safety Randy Kelly, who returned it 39 yards for the go-ahead touchdown.

To make up for the missed extra point, the Razorbacks went for two and were successful as McFadden caught a pass from Mustain and got in the end zone to give Arkansas a 17-10 lead.

Darren McFadden carried the ball 25 times for 112 yards and scored one touchdown to lead Arkansas to a 24-23 double overtime victory over Alabama.

‘Bama came back with a touchdown drive, as wide receiver Keith Brown made a 38-yard reception to the Razorbacks’ 32-yard-line on the last play of the third quarter, then caught a 15-yard touchdown pass from Wilson a few plays later that tied the game at 17, just 1:24 into the fourth quarter.

The momentum continued in Alabama’s favor as the Tide picked off another Mustain pass, this one by Jeffrey Dukes, to give the ball back to the ‘Bama offense at their own 42-yard-line with 12:18 to play in regulation.

Alabama proceeded to pound the Razorbacks’ defense into submission as they traveled 45 yards on 13 plays, with Wilson attempted only two passes on the drive, before they were faced with a fourth down at the Arkansas 13-yard-line.

Tiffin came on to attempt the potential go-ahead field goal from 30 yards out but like his first kick of the game, it was wide right and no good and the score remained tied at 17 with 3:06 to go in regulation.

Neither team could mount another scoring chance before the end of regulation so the game went overtime with Alabama winning the coin toss and electing to play defense to see if they needed a field goal or touchdown when the offense took the field for their overtime possession.

It appeared the offense would not be needed for Alabama as on the Razorbacks’ second play of overtime, Lionel Mitchell picked off a Mustain pass at his own 4-yard-line and started to run toward the end zone.

If Mitchell could score, the game would be over with the Tide winning the game.

But Mitchell was tackled by Felix Jones 45 yards short of the end zone, which meant that Alabama would take over at the 25-yard-line needing only a field goal to win the game.

The Tide offense played it conservatively as Darby carried the ball three straight times for 5 yards.

On 4th down, Shula called for the field goal unit, even though Tiffin had missed two field goals from close range already.

If Tiffin could make the kick, all his prior transgressions would be forgiven as he would have given the Tide the victory and upped their record to 4-0.

But once again, the kick was wide right and the game went into a second overtime.

Leigh Tiffin had a nightmare afternoon as he missed three field goals that were less than 40 yards and an extra point.

Since they played defense to start the first overtime period, ‘Bama started the second overtime period on offense.

Five plays got the Tide to the one-yard-line and on the sixth play, Wilson found wide receiver Nick Walker in the end zone for a one-yard touchdown to put the Alabama ahead 23-17, pending Tiffin’s extra point.

But Tiffin hooked it wide right on the extra point, leaving the Tide with a 23-17 lead, and vulnerable if Arkansas could get in the end zone for a touchdown on their offensive possession and kicked the extra point, the Razorbacks would win the game.

Two runs by McFadden for 12 yards and an incomplete pass left the ‘Hogs with a 3rd-and-8 at the 11-yard-line.

Mustain took the snap and found a wide open Ben Cleveland in the end zone for the 11-yard touchdown that tied the game at 23.

Arkansas fans held their breath to see if Davis, who had missed an extra point earlier, would not suffer the same fate as Tiffin and miss the kick.

But Davis’ kick sailed through the uprights to give Arkansas a 24-23 double overtime triumph over the Alabama Crimson Tide.

The win propelled the ‘Hogs to a ten-game winning streak that clinched the SEC West title for Arkansas and a trip to the SEC Championship Game, thanks to 1,000 yard rushing seasons from McFadden and Jones.

However, the Razorbacks dropped their last three games, including a 38-28 loss to the Florida Gators in the SEC Championship Game, to finish the season with a 10-4 record and a final ranking of #15 in the AP Poll after the season.

As far Alabama, the loss sent them into a tailspin as they finished the regular season 6-6 which included a 22-15 loss to Auburn, their fifth straight in the series.

The bad season and an 0-4 record against Auburn led to the firing of Shula as head coach in between the end of the regular season and the Tide’s loss to Oklahoma State in the Independence Bowl.

After the bowl game, Alabama hired Nick Saban to lead the Tide back to prominence, which he was able to do as ‘Bama won the national championship in his third year as head coach.

As for Tiffin, he would rebound from the debacle in Fayetteville to have a stellar career as the Alabama kicker as he would make 75 of 98 field goals during the next three seasons and was the kicker during their 2009 championship season.

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