No. 7 Texas 22, Arkansas 20

Sunday, September 12th 2004, 12:35 pm
By: News On 6

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) _ Heartbreak struck at Arkansas' home stadium again, a trait that's become a hallmark of close games in the Razorbacks' storied rivalry against Texas.

Arkansas fans still grieve over their 1969 loss in ``The Big Shootout,'' when Texas came from behind to win 15-14 in Fayetteville in a game that determined the national championship.

There was less on the line Saturday night, but the hard-fought 22-20 loss to No. 7 Texas will surely gall Razorbacks _ and thrill Longhorns _ for years because the programs, rivals from the old Southwest Conference days, are off each others' schedule after this season and no renewal has been planned.

The loss _ breaking Arkansas' 22-game winning streak against nonconference, regular-season opponents _ played out before a strongly partisan record crowd of 75,671 that was silenced only when Arkansas was intercepted on the last play of the game.

``I respect Texas,'' said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. ``The thing that's so tough is that we could easily be singing our song right now.''

Texas (2-0) was looking for revenge after an unranked Arkansas team upset them in Austin, 38-28 last year, when Texas was ranked No. 5.

``We hate it when we lose. We've had to answer before. Coming from behind and winning after losing the previous year was great with the whole nation watching,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said.

Arkansas led 17-16 at halftime, but the Longhorns came from behind to retake the lead, then turned their oldtime rivals back three times in the final 9:58 after Arkansas closed within two.

Cedric Benson rushed for 188 yards and scored two touchdowns for Texas, and Vince Young was 11-of-22 for 150 yards passing. The Longhorns had no turnovers and converted on fourth-and-1 at their own 40 to keep their initial touchdown drive alive.

Arkansas was led by quarterback Matt Jones, who had 93 yards on 11 carries and was 13-for-27 through the air for 249 yards and two interceptions.

Arkansas (1-1) gave Texas the margin of victory on the game's first drive. Long snapper Brett Goode sailed the ball over Jacob Skinner's head and out of the end zone for a safety, putting Texas up 2-0 with less than a half-minute gone.

Early in the fourth quarter, Chris Balseiro brought Arkansas back to within two with a 35-yard field goal. The Razorbacks got the ball on their own 48 with 6:11 left and converted on third-and-1 before Jones hit Cedric Washington for a 27-yard gain to the Texas 15. But three plays later, Jones was forced from the pocket and fumbled when the ball was punched out of his grasp from behind by Larry Dibbles. Texas' Brian Robison recovered at the 8.

After getting the ball back with 48 seconds left, Jones drove Arkansas to midfield before throwing his second interception, a desperation heave as the clock wound down. Earlier in the period, Jones' pass was intercepted at the Texas 20 by cornerback Cedric Griffin.

``It was a dog fight to the end,'' Brown said.

After Goode's first-quarter error on the punt snap, Texas scored on the following drive when Young hit David Thomas, who was streaking behind the defense, for a 49-yard touchdown that made it 9-0.

The Razorbacks responded by marching 80 yards in eight plays. Jones completed a 46-yard pass to Chris Baker that set up Peyton Hillis' 8-yard touchdown run that made it 9-7.

Benson rushed five times on the Longhorns' next drive, including a 60-yarder to the Arkansas 4. He scored from 3 yards out to increase the lead to 16-7.

Arkansas used a trick play to get close in the second quarter. At the Texas 34, Jones fired a lateral pass to the left to receiver Carlos Ousley, who threw a floater to tailback DeCori Birmingham, who caught the ball over two defenders along the right sideline for a touchdown.

The Razorbacks took the lead with 2:08 left in the half when Chris Balseiro hit a 27-yard field goal set up by a screen that Dedrick Poole broke for 50 yards.

Texas scored on its first possession of the second half to make it 22-17. Young, under pressure and with a Razorback hanging onto his jersey, hit Benson with an outlet pass for a 13-yard touchdown. A two-point conversion attempt failed.

Saturday's game was the 35th anniversary of the '69 Shootout. Plans to commemorate that game at halftime were dropped because of fans' objection to honor players from both 1969 teams on Arkansas' field. Instead, Arkansas honored its 1964 team, which claims a disputed national championship.