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Razorbacks, Rebels play marathon

Monday, November 5, 2001

OXFORD, Miss. -- For six overtimes, Arkansas and Mississippi matched plays and scores.

Finally, in the seventh overtime -- the most ever in a Division I game -- the Razorbacks were 2 points better and the Rebels 2 yards short.

Jermain Petty stopped Mississippi tight end Doug Zeigler 2 yards from the end zone on a 2-point conversion try Saturday night to give the Razorbacks a 58-56 victory.

"There wasn't really a loser," Rebels quarterback Eli Manning said. "We just came up short."

Manning threw a school-record six touchdowns, five in overtime. He finished 27-for-42 for 312 yards.

Arkansas freshman Mike Jones was Manning's equal.

Jones -- who came off the bench to replace Zak Clark -- ran for 110 yards and two OT touchdowns. He also threw a 24-yard TD to George Wilson in the fourth overtime and found Decori Birmingham in the back of the end zone for a 2-point conversion in the seventh overtime that proved to be decisive.

Jones looked spent sitting on the bench with his arms and legs spread out and his head resting on the back of his seat, after giving the Razorbacks a lead their defense would finally protect.

"I was just trying to have fun with it. That's the only way you can do it," Jones said. "I was an awesome experience and I'm glad everything worked out. I was just hoping we would make it."

Mark Pierce ran for three short touchdowns, including a 2-yarder on fourth-and-1 in the last overtime.

Arkansas (5-3, 3-3 SEC) outrushed Mississippi (6-2, 3-2) 370 yards to 145. The Razorbacks gained 531 total yards to Ole Miss' 457. It was Arkansas' first win over Mississippi in five tries in Oxford.

The teams combined for 198 plays, breaking the previous Division I record of 196. Their 80 overtime points was another D-I record -- and the 114 combined points broke the previous SEC record of 105, set in Georgia's 56-49 overtime win over Auburn in 1996.

"During the third and fourth overtimes, I was thinking let's just blow the whistle and say, 'Boys, let's go to the house,"' Rebels coach David Cutcliffe said.

Ole Miss couldn't overcome 100-yard rushing games by Fred Talley (113), Jones (110) and Cedric Cobbs (100).

Auburn, which started the season 1-3, has won four in a row, including wins over South Carolina and Auburn. The loss snapped Ole Miss' winning streak at five.

It was the ninth straight game with a touchdown pass for Manning, breaking a record he shared with his father, Archie Manning.

The previous longest game lasted six OTs -- happening three times, all in Division I-AA. The most recent was Florida A&M's 59-58 win over Hampton on Oct. 5, 1996.

In I-A, four OTs was the longest, most recently on Sept. 26, 1998, when Kansas beat UAB 39-27.

NCAA rules state that when the third OT session begins, the extra-point kick cannot be used and teams must go for two points after scoring a touchdown.


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