Everything about the Miracle on Markham was replayed Friday afternoon, except the stakes weren’t nearly as high as they were in 2002.
The catch came in the same stadium, in the same corner of the end zone and under the same circumstances for Arkansas.
Instead of Matt Jones to DeCori Birmingham, though, it was Casey Dick who threw the game-winning touchdown pass to London Crawford in the final seconds of Friday’s 31-30 win over LSU before a crowd of 55,325 in War Memorial Stadium.
“Miracle on Markham II,” Dick said when asked if he had come up with a nickname for his last-second touchdown pass to Crawford. “That’s fine with me.”
With Arkansas trailing 30-24 and facing a fourth-and-1 from LSU’s 24, Dick called a play known as Blue Wide. And as soon as he saw that Crawford was facing man coverage, the senior knew where he was going to throw the final pass of his career.
Dick threw to the southwest corner of the end zone just like Jones had done six years earlier to help beat LSU 21-20 on Nov. 29, 2002.
Crawford separated himself from LSU cornerback Chris Hawkins, jumped up and came down with a 24-yard touchdown catch with 21.8 seconds remaining.
“When the ball was in the air, I had to think to myself, ‘I gotta get this ball regardless of what the situation is. I gotta catch it,’” Crawford said, still holding the game ball during his postgame news conference. “And when I caught it and I came down with it, ‘The first thought was, ‘We won.’”
Arkansas kicker Alex Tejada booted the go-ahead extra point, and the Razorbacks (5-7, 2-6 SEC) celebrated the end to a particularly tough season when a 63-yard field-goal attempt by LSU’s Colt David fell well short with no time left.
“(I’m) very proud of our football team. It’s a good way to end the season,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. “Unfortunately, we let a couple of other ones go that we had opportunities (in) or we could still play (in a bowl game).”
Arkansas earned a trip to the 2002 SEC Championship Game, when Jones connected with Birmingham on a 31-yard touchdown pass and kicker David Carlton made the game-winning extra point with only a few seconds remaining.
But the Razorbacks knew what their fate would be even before they jumped out to a 14-3 lead during Friday’s nationally televised game against the Tigers (7-5, 3-5 SEC).
Arkansas was eliminated from postseason play with last week’s 31-28 loss at Mississippi State, and Friday was a chance for Petrino and his players to simply go out on a high note. And with The Golden Boot trophy in their possession for at least another year.
“We became a football team tonight,” Arkansas defensive coordinator Willy Robinson said. “In all three phases we became a football team tonight.”
Arkansas got off to a fast start with redshirt freshman Nathan Dick, Casey’s younger brother, making his second consecutive start. He completed six of his first seven passes for 78 yards and one touchdown.
But Casey Dick took over early in the third quarter after Arkansas’ offense stalled, his brother injured his thumb on an interception and LSU took a 30-14 lead by scoring 27 unanswered points.
The Razorbacks began their final drive at their own 31 and with 2:14 remaining. Dick completed a 5-yard pass to tight end D.J. Williams on a third-and-4 and then hit wide receiver Carlton Salters on a 21-yard pass on a fourth-and-6 with 1:18 left.
Four plays later, Dick found Crawford in the end zone on another miracle play.
“I saw a really well-placed ball on the outside shoulder and a nice catch,” LSU coach Les Miles said.
“Words can’t really describe it. It’s an emotional feeling that you go through,” Dick said. “You’re happy, you’re sad that your career’s over, but it’s a great feeling to go out and throw a game-winning touchdown.”