Arkansas football nearly picked up another huge upset win in year one under head coach Sam Pittman. A very controversial decision by the referees tonight cost them a chance to beat No. 13 Auburn on the road.
With 5:29 left in the game, Feleipe Franks, Arkansas’ Florida transfer quarterback, hit De’Vion Warren for a 30-yard go-ahead touchdown. With the extra point, the Razorbacks went up 28-27.
Auburn drove deep in Arkansas territory on its next drive, but Anders Carlson missed a 34-yard field goal with just 2:38 left. After a quick Arkansas three-and-out, Auburn got the ball back and once again drove deep into Auburn territory. On 3rd-and-1 from the Arkansas 19-yard line, Bo Nix fumbled the snap, and then tried to spike the ball. Because he spiked the ball backwards, it should’ve been a live ball fumble.
An Arkansas defender fought to get the ball, but the play was blown dead. Rather than take over on the turnover with 29 seconds left to ice the game, Arkansas watched Carlson hit a 39-yard game-winning field goal with just seven seconds left. There was a lot of confusion about the rule on the backwards spike, but longtime NFL referee Terry McAulay confirmed on Twitter that it should have been Arkansas ball.
This is a backward pass. A player from each team immediately continue to play. That would be considered continuing action and the ball is ultimately and clearly recovered by the defense. In my opinion, this should have been reversed and the ball given to Arkansas. https://t.co/P0xR9u6Vv1
— Terry McAulay (@SNFRules) October 11, 2020
After the game, Pittman said that he was told because the play was blown dead before the recovery, it couldn’t be reviewed. It’s a pretty devastating blow for Arkansas football, which has looked so promising this year, and was that call away from beating its second ranked team in three weeks.
Sam Pittman on Arkansas' postgame radio show: “They just said it was a fumble, a backward pass, but they blew the whistle before we recovered the ball so they couldn’t review it, I guess. That's the explanation I got.”
— Matt Jones (@MattJonesADG) October 10, 2020
Razorbacks fans can take heed in the fact that their team is very competitive against some tough SEC opponents this year, after two straight seasons of winless ball in conference. Sam Pittman wasn’t the flashiest hire, but the results so far have been way ahead of what people expected from the Hogs in 2020.