Jones and Manning remember the classic 7-OT game


Eli Manning got his first glimpse of Matt Jones almost 20 years ago – during Arkansas’ seven-hour overtime game with Ole Miss.

Manning remembers what he saw that night of November 3, 2001 in Oxford, Mississippi, and it still amazes him.

“Looks like you don’t run that fast,” Manning told Jones Monday at the Little Rock Touchdown Club. “It doesn’t look like you’re running a 4.4. Looks like you’re using a 4.8 and everyone else is using a 5.8. “

Manning, 40, son of football hero Ole Miss Archie Manning and younger brother of NFL Hall of Fame member Peyton Manning, was in his second season with the Rebels the night Jones and the Razorbacks defeated the Rebels 58-56.

On Monday, Manning and Jones, 38, were invited as guests by Little Rock Touchdown Club founder David Bazzel to remember the match, the longest of its kind in college football at the time.

A crowd of over 600 enjoyed video clips of the game, followed by comments from Manning and Jones.

Former Arkansas coach Houston Nutt recorded an audio statement, as did Bill Curry, a former Georgia Tech, Alabama and Kentucky college coach – who was one of the ESPN commentators during the game. .

“It was one of those games, where you responded to tough situations,” Manning said. “When you needed two points, you had them. When you needed fourth and 6, you got.

“So many big games. … Within a meter, you feel like you’ve given your all. You are disappointed. It took us about two weeks to get back on track, and that got us out of the race for SEC West. “

Ole Miss, who entered the game 6-1, finished the regular season 7-4 and did not make a playoff bowl game.

Arkansas, who entered the game at 4-3, finished the regular season 7-4 and lost 10-3 to Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl.

The game ended with a failed two-point conversion try by Ole Miss in seventh overtime, and that didn’t bring back the best memories for Manning.

It brings back memories.

“I remember my brother [Peyton] was crazy, ”said Manning, who threw six touchdown passes against Arkansas, including five in overtime. “That year, when I was in second year, I ended up throwing more touchdowns than him.

“He said, ‘This overtime game shouldn’t count. You threw five touchdowns in overtime. There should be like an asterisk.

“I said, ‘No, no, no, no. I take them all.

Manning ended his Ole Miss career with 81 touchdown passes before embarking on an NFL career that spanned 16 seasons with the New York Giants and included two Super Bowl wins.

Jones, best known for his fast runs and calm demeanor, ended his career in Arkansas by throwing 53 touchdown passes while rushing for 24.

Jones was a first-round draft pick for the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2005 and played four seasons as wide receiver.

A play Manning and Jones remember, albeit differently, happened in sixth overtime with Ole Miss leading 50-48.

Arkansas had just scored on a run from Mark Pierce and the Razorbacks prepared a two-point conversion call involving tight end Jason Peters, who was primarily a defensive end at this point in his career.

Peters played 17 years in the NFL as an offensive tackle, primarily with the Philadelphia Eagles.

On that play, Jones faked a transfer to Cedric Cobbs, drifted back as the Rebels rushed forward, before making a pass that Peters hooked in the back of the end zone.

“It looked like a failed game,” Manning said. “Like a street ball. I think you’re supposed to put it back there, and now you’re throwing it to a left tackle for 20 years.”

Jones, who admitted he lives a life of golf five days a week in northwest Arkansas, said the game was the one offensive coordinator David Lee suggested during a call from the grandstand of the press.

“That’s how we designed it,” Jones said.

Manning said he recently watched a replay of the game to prepare for Monday’s engagement.

“It was definitely one of the most memorable games I have ever played,” Manning said. “It was a game that we were talking about, that we were still talking about. You just wish you were on the winning side.

Jones said it was nice to see some of the players who went on to have important NFL careers playing in this game.

“All the players who make games,” Jones said. “Jason Peters, Shawn Andrews, Kenny Hamlin.”

One of the quirks of the game was that the score was tied 17-17 after settlement, and Jones was only inserted into the game in the second half.

Jones hadn’t even started playing quarterback as a true freshman until Arkansas had a rescheduled game – after the 9/11 tragedy – against Weber State two weeks earlier.

Jones was able to show off his skills as a run-pass threat in this match and then was really put to the test against Ole Miss.

Jones ended the night by completing 3 of 6 passes for 61 yards and 1 touchdown, and he rushed 18 times for 100 yards and 2 touchdowns.

Fayetteville native and sophomore Zak Clark, who ended his career at the University of Central Arkansas, started the game.

Clark, who is now the head coach of Searcy High School, was in attendance Monday.

“That’s why we only scored 17 goals in regulation,” Clark said jokingly of his role in the game. “I remember meeting Eli at Manning Camp a few years later. And he was going, ‘This quarterback [Jones] just kept playing games.

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