Nate Allen is a columnist for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, Allen is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has authored three books about the Razorbacks.
Several candidates worthy of award
FAYETTEVILLE Fortunately the University of Arkansas might conduct its Crip Hall Award voting like those banana republics belatedly compelled having Jimmy Carter review their dubious elections.
It is fortunate because justice was served if indeed there was any surreptitious altering the voting facts after the fact.
The Crip Hall Award, named for a deceased UA grad and Secretary of State, annually is voted to the Razorbacks’ most outstanding senior in their homecoming game which Arkansas won, 19-15 over Tulsa on Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The award’s winner, receiver Cobi Hamilton, deserved it by acclimation though perhaps not when media ballots were prematurely ordered picked up with a full quarter to play.
At third quarter’s end, Arkansas trailed, 19-15 and Hamilton had caught 6 passes for 78 yards including 19 and 18-yarders on Arkansas’ game-opening touchdown drive.
Hamilton, now Arkansas’ all time single season receiving leader with 69 catches with three games to play, won the game and award catching 5 passes for 99 yards in the fourth quarter. On the game winning drive Hamilton made a spectacular catch of Wilson’s well defended 41-yard pass and took a tunnel screen 14 yards to the Tulsa one.
Previously, Hamilton was having a nice day, but no nicer than senior running back Dennis Johnson (14 carries for 84 yards and a touchdown at three quarters) or senior quarterback Tyler Wilson, even while taking a beating and throwing an interception, completing 15 of 22 passes for 153 yards by the third quarter’s end.
Senior punter Dylan Breeding also had wedged his foot into the Crip Hall door.
Breeding boomed a 58.3 average for his three punts in the second and third quarters. Included was a 69-yarder downed at the Tulsa three.
“He flipped the field and that was huge,” Wilson said.
Johnson, who was coming off a career high 161 yards on 27 carries in the 30-27 SEC loss to Ole Miss the previous Saturday in Little Rock, carried Saturday’s fight through the fourth quarter. He finished with 22 carries for 109 yards including the 1-yard game-winning touchdown.
Arkansas Coach John L. Smith caught grief for running Johnson on a failed fourth and one at the Tulsa 16 instead of kicking a field goal with 1:07 left in the game.
Well, Johnson earlier miraculously made 12 yards from a draw on third and 11 and had just made eight on third and nine.
“I thought, ‘Let’s win it right here,” Smith said. “Put the ball in his hands and see if he can’t get it done again.”
The Razorbacks defense, “ripped” and called “soft” during halftime, Smith said, by himself and the defensive staff, bailed Arkansas out of that fourth and one aftermath like it “responded” the entire second half, Smith said.
It took all those contributors to win the game but only one can win the award.
“Cobi - what do you say about Cobi?” Smith marveled. “He made a couple of plays the second half that were just - uh - great receivers will do that.”
Sports, Pages 16 on 11/05/2012