Hog and Ladder: How Arkansas pulled off the fourth-and-25 conversion

Sport Science - 4th & 25

The wild 4th-and-25 conversion for Arkansas in the overtime win over Ole Miss earns the ESPN Sport Science College Football Play of the Week honors.

The fourth-down conversion in overtime Saturday will go down in Arkansas lore. The fans already have started coming up with names for the play. I've seen everything from the “Henry Heave” to the “Hog and Ladder” to “Hotty Toddy Toss Almighty.”

Regardless of what you want to call it, it was a crazy play and one that helped the Razorbacks upset No. 18 Ole Miss in overtime, 53-52.

Here's a look back at how it happened.

The play call

After a delay-of-game penalty and a sack on its opening series, Arkansas faced a fourth-and-25 from the Ole Miss 40, needing to convert to stay in the game. The Rebels had already scored a touchdown on their first drive of overtime, so the Razorbacks had to match. It was do or die.

The coaches sent in the play. All three wide receivers lined up to the right of quarterback Brandon Allen were supposed to run go-routes towards the end zone, and tight end Hunter Henry was asked to run an under route over the middle, short of the sticks.

“I kind of knew that if he threw the ball to me, I was going to have to make a guy miss,” Henry said. “And I knew if a guy hit me, I was going to have to try to make a play and throw it to someone else, see if they could make a play.”

Henry caught the ball at the 26-yard line, 11 yards short of the first down. and Ole Miss defensive back Tony Bridges got to him, wrapping up his legs.

The lateral

With Henry going down, he had no other choice but to throw the ball behind him. He looked back, saw a group of his teammates back towards where the line of scrimmage was and just threw it in that general direction.

“If there’s a guy that I would want to throw a backwards pass probably 20 yards in the air in no direction other than the way he wanted to throw it, I would pick Hunter Henry,” Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said after the game.

“I saw the ball in the air, hoping one of our guys was going to catch it.”

Ole Miss coach Hugh Freeze also saw the ball flying through the air, but he saw one of his players in position to potentially make a play on it.

Marquis [Haynes] is standing there, and I was just hoping that he’s tall enough to get a hand on it,” Freeze said. “It went right over his hand to them. And then to get it to their running back somehow ... "

The ball was actually deflected by Arkansas offensive lineman Dan Skipper before running back Alex Collins picked it up. As Henry said, “it ended up in the perfect person’s hands.”

The run after the catch

Once Collins picked up the football, he still had 27 yards to pick up the first down. But the Razorbacks were ready. They basically had a wall set up for him on the left side of the field with most of the Ole Miss defenders still on the right side, scrambling to get back.

Collins wasn’t home free just yet, though. When he got to the 20-yard line, he had to wait for one more block and make a cut outside to pick up the first down.

“He is so instinctive,” Bielema said. “He almost got tackled short of the down marker. I think he knew he had to make that last cut to get to where he needed to be. Again, it’s just one of the true definitions of how great a competitor Alex is.”

Arkansas picked up the first down on the crazy lateral play. Then two plays later, with Ole Miss still on its heels, the Razorbacks scored a touchdown. The rest, as they say, was history.

“It was just sweet,” Henry said. “I think God was on our side. It was really cool to be a part of something like that, to have that fight and that perseverance through that whole game.”