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Classic SEC Football: Arkansas Tops LSU in 2002 in the 'Miracle on Markham'

Former Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones
Former Arkansas quarterback Matt JonesChris Graythen/Getty Images
Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterJune 1, 2012

Every Friday, The SEC Blog will feature one classic game from the storied history of SEC football.

 

The LSU vs. Arkansas series is no stranger to wild finishes. The 2002 meeting between the two rivals might be considered the wildest of them all.

Arkansas hosted LSU at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. with a trip to the SEC Championship Game on the line. The Razorbacks entered the game at 8-3 (4-3 SEC), while the Tigers sported a No. 18 ranking and a 8-3 (5-2 SEC) record.

LSU was in control early, and took a 10-0 lead into halftime. The two teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, and LSU entered the fourth quarter with a 17-7 lead.

With 6:33 to play, Arkansas running back Fred Talley gave the Hogs a spark with a 56-yard touchdown run to cut the lead to three, but time wasn't on the Razorbacks' side.

LSU embarked on a 13-play, 53-yard drive that culminated in a 29-yard John Corbello field goal to extend the Tiger lead to six points with just 40 seconds to play.

Arkansas took over at its own 19-yard line with no timeouts, and quarterback Matt Jones promptly hit Richard Smith for a 50-yard gain down to the LSU 31. After spiking the ball to stop the clock, Arkansas found itself with a 2nd-and-10 with just 17 seconds on the clock.

DeCori Birmingham's game-tying touchdown / Photo Credit: Jessica Waldon/The Reveille
DeCori Birmingham's game-tying touchdown / Photo Credit: Jessica Waldon/The Reveille

Jones took the snap, bought some time, and then hit DeCori Birmingham behind two LSU defenders in the back of the end zone to tie the game at 20 with just nine seconds on the clock. The Hogs were flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct on the ensuing celebration, which left kicker David Carlton with a 35-yard extra point attempt to win the game.

With the wind swirling, Carlton squeaked the kick through the left upright to give the Hogs the 21-20 victory over the LSU Tigers.

The win moved the Razorbacks into a three-way tie with LSU and Auburn for second place in the SEC West. With Alabama (6-2 SEC) ineligible for the SEC Championship Game due to NCAA sanctions, the Hogs were awarded the title due to head-to-head wins over Auburn and LSU. 

The game will forever be known as the "Miracle on Markham" because Markham Street runs adjacent to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock.

 

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