Arkansas posts another 'unbelievable' seven-overtime win

Updated: November 2, 2003, 4:58 PM ET

LEXINGTON, Ky. -- The only coach who knows what it feels like to win a seven-overtime game now has done it twice, and Arkansas' Houston Nutt has only one word to describe the experience.

"Unbelievable," Nutt said after Saturday's 71-63 win over Kentucky. "Unbelievable. We fight, fight and refused to give up. We refused to lose tonight. Our kids, they had an unbelievable heart."

Arkansas stopped Kentucky at one minute past midnight on Sunday in game that likely gave some of the Razorbacks a feeling of d Dej Ga vu. Two years ago, in the other longest game in NCAA history, Arkansas won 58-56 in seven overtimes at Mississippi.

And last year, the Razorbacks went six overtimes before losing to Tennessee, which means Arkansas (5-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) now has played in the three longest Division I-A games ever.

"As long as we get to seven (overtimes), it's OK," Nutt said after Saturday's game. "The game was meant for us and we believe we're going to win in overtime."

Since Division I-A adopted the tiebreaker in 1996, the Razorbacks are 5-1 in overtime games and 3-1 in multiple-OT contests -- including 2-0 this season.

Kentucky isn't nearly so experienced with the format. The Wildcats (4-5, 1-4) played only two previous overtime games, with the outcomes decided after a single period.

"There is nothing like being on the wrong side of an NCAA record," Kentucky coach Rich Brooks said. "I never thought I would be in a game like that. We had ample opportunities to win the game.

"It was a heck of a game. I thought several times we had it."

Kentucky rallied from a 21-7 deficit and tied the game at 24-24 on a 13-yard touchdown pass from Jared Lorenzen to Chris Bernard with 1:38 left in regulation.

Then came the overtime, during which three Division I-A records fell. Arkansas' 47 overtime points broke its record of 41, set against Mississippi. The 86 combined overtime points broke the record of 80 set in that 2001 game. The 134 overall points broke the record for most points by both teams in an overtime game. Akron and Eastern Michigan combined for 127 points in a three-overtime game (won 65-62 by Akron) in 2001.

To look at it another way, Kentucky and Arkansas combined for 18 more points than their basketball teams did last Feb. 19, when the Wildcats beat the Razorbacks 66-50.

Until the seventh overtime, both teams scored touchdowns in every overtime except for the third, when they kicked field goals. In the fourth and sixth overtimes, the teams had successful two-point conversions.

Arkansas had the ball first in the seventh overtime, and needed only two plays to score on a 25-yard run by tailback DeCori Birmingham. Birmingham, a converted wide receiver forced to play tailback because of injuries, rushed 40 times for a career-high 196 yards and two touchdowns.

"The overtimes didn't bother me," Birmingham said. "I didn't get tired until I came off the field."

Jason Peters caught a two-point conversion pass from Matt Jones after Birmingham's touchdown. Kentucky had a fourth-and-3 at the 5 in its half of the overtime, but Lorenzen failed to make a first down and fumbled on a keeper.

"I guess this is one for the record books," Lorenzen said. "It's just an instant classic. We never quit, and we fought hard. My offensive linemen are dead. You've got to give credit to the defense because it was tough to go in back-to-back during the overtime."

Kentucky's best chance to win came in the third overtime. A field goal gave Arkansas a 41-38 lead, but Kentucky had a third-and-goal at the 2. After a 1-yard gain, Kentucky was prepared to go for the win on fourth down, but the Wildcats were called for an illegal substitution. Brooks chose to have Taylor Begley kick a tying field goal.

Lorenzen accounted for five touchdowns. He completed 28 of 49 passes for 326 yards and two scores, and rushed for three touchdowns in overtime. Fullback Alexis Bwenge rushed for 89 yards and two touchdowns and caught a 51-yard scoring pass.

Almost lost in the hoopla was the fact that Arkansas, once ranked No. 7, snapped a three-game losing streak that had cost it a Top 25 ranking. The Razorbacks also enjoyed the return of standout tailback Cedric Cobbs, who rushed for 46 yards on nine carries in his first action since injuring a hamstring on Oct. 18 in the first half against Florida.

Kentucky must win two of three against Vanderbilt, No. 9 Georgia and No. 18 Tennessee if it hopes to become bowl-eligible.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index