CFB: Tejada's OT kick gives Arkansas 20-17 win over ECU
AP Sports Writer
MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Alex Tejada kicked a 37-yard field goal in overtime to give Arkansas a 20-17 win in the Liberty Bowl on Saturday night after East Carolina's Ben Hartman missed two field goal attempts late in regulation and another in the extra session.
Hartman missed from 39 yards with 1:03 remaining and from the same distance on the final play of the fourth quarter, then missed from 35 in overtime. Tejada, who has struggled with kicks in pressure situations himself, made his attempt to end the game.
Arkansas won despite going 0 of 13 on third down.
It was the second straight overtime game for the Razorbacks (8-5), who fell 33-30 to LSU in the regular-season finale. Tejada missed a kick to end that game and also missed from 43 yards in the fourth quarter Saturday.
That was nothing compared to what Hartman went through. He missed four attempts in all, each at the same end of the field. He was short from 45 yards in the first quarter, then hit the left upright with just over a minute left. He was wide right on the second potential game-winner, then wide left in overtime.
East Carolina (9-5) lost in the Liberty Bowl for the second straight season. Last time it was a late fumble return by Kentucky that did in the Pirates.
Arkansas had won only two of its previous 14 bowls, and the Razorbacks insisted they were unusually focused on this one. It didn't show. Arkansas' vaunted offense had the ball for only 22:05. Ryan Mallett was named most valuable player, but he went only 15 of 36 for 202 yards and a touchdown.
Dominique Lindsay rushed for 151 yards on 33 carries for East Carolina. His 3-yard touchdown run opened the scoring in the second quarter, ending a 99-yard drive by the Pirates. It was 10-0 at halftime, the first time the Razorbacks had been shut out in the first half since September against Alabama.
Arkansas had been averaging 37 points per game.
The Razorbacks tied it in the third quarter with a defensive touchdown when Tramain Thomas intercepted a pass and ran 37 yards to the end zone.
East Carolina took the lead again on Patrick Pinkney's 13-yard touchdown pass to Dwayne Harris with 5:52 left in the third. Arkansas answered 36 seconds later when Mallett threw a 41-yard scoring pass to Jarius Wright to make it 17-all.
Still, it was a struggle for the Razorbacks, who became only the second major college team this season to win without converting a third down. Colorado State went 0 for 8 while beating Weber State in September, according to STATS LLC.
Pinkney, a sixth-year senior, went 17 of 33 for 209 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.