Gamble lacks payoff

Allen thought fourth-down pass would hit

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, November 19, 2017
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen fakes a handoff to running back David Williams during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen fakes a handoff to running back David Williams during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Austin Allen thought it was going to be the game-winning touchdown.

Instead, Allen's pass on fourth and 2 from the Arkansas Razorbacks' 44 fell incomplete with 3:01 left in Saturday's game against Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs took advantage of the short field and scored a touchdown with 17 seconds left to beat the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville 28-21.

Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said the decision was made at halftime that the next time the Razorbacks faced fourth and short, they would use a play-action pass off of a power run formation.

"We thought we had a real good shot," Bielema said.

Allen faked a handoff to tailback David Williams -- who rushed eight times for 75 yards -- and threw deep over the middle for La'Michael Pettway.

"I thought we were going to score a touchdown," Allen said. "I thought it was a good call and let it all hang out. It didn't work for us.

"If we had scored on that, everyone would be saying, 'Great play call.' But since we didn't, it's 'Oh, horrible play call.' "

Allen said there was a miscommunication between he and Pettway on the route.

"I thought he was going to do one thing and he did another," Allen said. "Not very good on fourth down to win the game.

"I thought he was going to go [deeper], and he didn't. That's why it looked like I overthrew him by 10 yards. It's on me. I'll take the blame for that one. I should have just thrown it right at him. I've got to give him a chance."

There was contact on the play between Pettway and Mississippi State cornerback Lashard Durr.

"We were hoping to maybe get a call there by the official," Bielema said. "But obviously it didn't happen."

Mississippi State Coach Dan Mullen was asked whether it surprised him Arkansas didn't punt on fourth and 2 from its 44 with the game tied 21-21.

"You've got about a five-second window to make a decision," Mullen said. "You know your team, you know the situation you're in, and you try to make a decision for what you think is best.

"Mine is they're going for it, let's make a stop. Not should they be going, should I be happy at this. It's they are going for it, let's make a stop."

Bulldogs defensive lineman Jeffery Simmons said he wasn't surprised by the call.

"The game was on the line, and they're trying to get a first down to keep the game going," Simmons said.

Arkansas defensive end McTelvin Agim said he had no problem with the call even though the stop put Mississippi State in position to drive for a winning score.

"We were like, 'We've got nothing to lose, so let's do whatever we have to do to win,' " Agim said. "We weren't upset.

"Once we didn't get the first down, we were like, 'C'mon, we've got to keep playing. We've got to keep doing our job and keep trying to execute.' "

The Razorbacks wanted to go to wide receiver Jonathan Nance on the fourth-and-2 call, but he wasn't in after suffering a knee injury on the previous play.

Allen said he believed the play would work with Pettway as the primary receiver.

"I had all the confidence in the world in Pettway," Allen said. "So when I saw him out there, I thought he was going to catch the game-winning touchdown.

"I really did. I thought he was going to be the hero."

Sports on 11/19/2017

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