7:00 PM ET, November 1, 2003
Commonwealth Stadium, Lexington, KY
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) -- Multiple-overtime football games are becoming a habit for Arkansas. The Razorbacks finished another one the right way on Saturday.
DeCori Birmingham scored on a 25-yard run in a record-tying seventh overtime, and Arkansas stopped Kentucky on a fourth-down play to finish a 71-63 victory at Commonwealth Stadium.
The football game was the longest in NCAA history, matching the seven overtimes in Arkansas' 58-56 victory at Mississippi in 2001. The game lasted four minutes shy of five hours.
Arkansas also played a six-overtime last year, losing to Tennessee, and beat Alabama earlier this year in a two-overtime game. The Razorbacks have played six overtime games, winning five times, since Division I-A adopted the tiebreaker in 1996.
"As long as we get to seven (overtimes), it's OK," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak.
"The game was meant for us and we believe we're going to win in overtime. We were prepared for overtime. We had three or four two-point plays ready. We didn't draw up things in the dirt like we did two years ago in Oxford (Mississippi)."
Birmingham, a converted wide receiver forced to play tailback because of injuries, rushed 40 times for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns for Arkansas (5-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference). Jason Peters caught a 2-point conversion pass from Matt Jones after Birmingham's final score.
Kentucky (4-5, 1-4) had a fourth-and-3 at the 5 in the seventh overtime, but quarterback Jared Lorenzen failed to make a first down when he fumbled on a keeper.
"There is nothing like being on the wrong side of an NCAA record," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "I never thought I would be in a game like that. We had ample opportunities to win the game.
"It was very tough to swallow. We made such a great comeback. Talk about an emotional rollercoaster. One thing about it: the fans got their money's worth."
Kentucky forced overtime with a 13-yard touchdown pass from Lorenzen to Chris Bernard with 1:38 left in regulation. That tied the score at 24 and capped a 14-point Kentucky rally.
Arkansas scored 47 points in overtime, breaking the record of 41 it set in the 2001 game against Ole Miss. The 86 combined overtime points also broke the record of 80 set in the 2001 game.
Until the seventh overtime, both teams scored touchdowns in each overtime except for the third, when they kicked field goals. In the fourth and sixth overtimes, the teams had successful 2-point conversions.
Kentucky's best chance to win came in the third overtime.
Arkansas had kicked a field goal to go ahead 41-38, and Kentucky had a fourth-and-goal at the 1. But the Wildcats were penalized for illegal substitution when Draak Davis ran off the field after Kentucky broke its huddle, and the Wildcats chose to kick a tying field goal.
In the fourth overtime, Arkansas converted on a fourth-and-2 play at the 3 when Jones scored, then threw a conversion pass to Mark Pierce.
Jones, who did not start the game but relieved Ryan Sorahan in the second quarter, passed for 260 yards and three touchdowns, completing 16 of 25 passes. He also rushed for 112 yards and one touchdown.
George Wilson had nine catches for 172 yards and one touchdown for the Razorbacks.
Birmingham scored on a 10-yard first-quarter run. Kentucky's Andrew Hopewell blocked a punt and returned it 6 yards for a tying touchdown, but Jones threw a 26-yard scoring pass to Richard Smith to put Arkansas ahead 14-7.
The Razorbacks then scored on a blocked punt of their own, as Tom Crowder blocked Anthony Thornton's kick and recovered the football in the end zone.
Kentucky had plays of 26, 31 and 25 yards to reach the Arkansas 3 late in the second quarter, but Ahmad Carroll intercepted Lorenzen to end the threat.
Lorenzen, who rushed for three touchdowns in overtime, threw his two touchdown passes in the second half. One was a 51-yard flip to fullback Alexis Bwenge, who eluded two defenders and broke two tackles on the play. Bwenge added two other touchdowns in overtime.
Bwenge ran for 89 yards in addition to the 51-yard reception. Lorenzen completed 28 of 49 passes for 326 yards. Derek Abney led the Wildcats with 10 catches for 91 yards.
Kentucky dropped to 1-2 in overtime games. The Wildcats beat Alabama 40-34 in 1997 and lost to Louisville by the same score in 2000. Both games ended after only one extra period.