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March Badness: Jared Lorenzen vs Matt Jones

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Featuring an underrated classic(ish) early 21st Century matchup.

Kentucky v Florida Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

For the first time in our glorious bracket of badness, we have a showdown of contemporaries. A pair of unorthodox SEC quarterbacks that we may directly compare, because they actually played each other.

And hooooo boy did Jared Lorenzen and Matt Jones play each other a lot. Two-hundred and ninety-six minutes worth of football, all of it on November 1, 2003. The game, a 71-63 win for Arkansas, went for seven overtimes. To this day it still is tied for the longest game on record in college football history. Technically, it ended at 12:01 a.m. on November 2.

Before we get to a handful of fun notes on this game, which featured 86 combined points after regulation, 1,100 yards of offense, seven fumbles and 20 penalties:

  • It was Jones’ and Arkansas’ third game in three years that went six overtimes or more. The Razorbacks beat Eli Manning’s Ole Miss squad 58-56 in seven OTs in 2001, and then loss to Tennessee, 41-38, in six overtimes in 2002.

"As long as we get to seven (overtimes), it's OK," said Houston Nutt in the postgame Associated Press story. "The game was meant for us and we believe we're going to win in overtime. We were prepared for overtime. We had three or four two-point plays ready. We didn't draw up things in the dirt like we did two years ago in Oxford (Mississippi)."

  • Yes, Houston Nutt was prepared for multiple overtimes at this point in his coaching career.
  • Jones had one of the absolute best games of his career, completing 16-of-25 passes for 260 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, plus another 112 yards and a score on 15 carries.
  • Lorenzen threw for 326 yards and two touchdowns, and added another THREE rushing scores on the ground, plus 39 yards.
  • Jones did not actually start the game for Arkansas, which had Ryan Sorahan under center while Jones played receiver early on. Kentucky also used backup quarterback Shane Boyd for a handful of plays as well. Boyd ran for 17 yards, attempted two passes, completed none, but did manage to catch a pass for one yard.
  • Arkansas’ DeCori Birmingham, a starting wide receiver who moved to running back due to injuries, rushed for 196 yards on 40 carries. Both totals are more than the 17 catches for 186 yards he had on the entire season for the Razorbacks.

So let’s check it out!

  • Arkansas came into this game on a three-game losing streak, which came after beating Alabama in double-OT in September. Kentucky had won two straight under first-year head coach Rich Brooks, but would lose out following this one. Arkansas, for its part, won their next three before a 55-24 pasting at the hands of future National Champion LSU.
  • There’s Jones at receiver! He really was an unreal athlete. 6-5, every bit of 230 pounds and could just run like a deer. Nick Saban used to talk about how it was so hard to get players to take Jones’ speed seriously, because he had such a long stride that he looked like he was moving slow even as he was picking up 5 yards in two steps. Made him really tough to get an angle on.
  • TWO! Two blocked punts for touchdowns in the first half!
  • And there’s that improvisation that made J-Load so tough to deal with. One arm out of the grasp, a great flip to Draak Davis (no relation to LSU’s sophomore receiver) for a nice gain. Of course he followed it up with a terrible lollipop of an interception.
  • This was an underrated era of recruit nicknames: Arkansas had “Batman” Carroll, Auburn with “Cadillac” Williams. I miss nicknames.
  • Hefty! Hefty! Scramble! Lorenzen finds Alexis Bwenge for a 51-yard touchdown, and suddenly the Wildcats are back in this!
  • Fumble from Jones on what was, at the time, a very exotic triple-option play out of the shotgun, and the Wildcats are able to get within a score. Jones’ responds with a big play to George Wilson, but the Razorbacks settle for three themselves. Left Lorenzen with a little over three minutes for some thrilling heroics.
  • Oh that’s right you saw a Load option touchdown from Kentucky in OT1! Okay, technically not a “load” option, which features a lead-blocker. But you know what I mean.
  • Jones battles back with a scramble scoring pass to tight end Jason Peters — who went on to become an all-pro left tackle in the NFL. Didn’t have to gain any weight to do it, either. Arkansas would later miss a two-point try on an attempted fade route to their 300-pound tight end.
  • Other than an exchange of field goals in the third OT period, Arky and Kentucky combined for 11 touchdowns after regulation, with neither team successfully making a two-point conversion until the sixth overtime.
  • You know the defenses are tired when Lorenzen is running quarterback draws for six points. Nobody on Arkansas even came close, either.
  • By overtime six, this has just become “play the hits” for Jones and Lorenzen, with scramble play after improvisation after bad decision that somehow still works.
  • Everything about Lorenzen in a nutshell: Kentucky rolls him out, nobody open, he rumbles back to the middle of the field and throws across his body, into traffic, for a touchdown. You would absolutely never coach a player to do any of this, but Lorenzen just had a magical way of making it work a handful of times a season. You just hoped he didn’t do it to your team.
  • But the hero-ball only works for so long. Fourth-and-three, another trip to the QB-draw well comes up short, and Lorenzen fumbles the ball away. Arkansas wins.

Poll

March Badness Semi-Final

This poll is closed

  • 63%
    Jared Lorenzen
    (60 votes)
  • 36%
    Matt Jones
    (35 votes)
95 votes total Vote Now