Arkansas SEC moment No. 5: The Clint Stoerner fumble

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — This is unlike other countdowns you have seen honoring Arkansas’ 25 seasons in the SEC. This one is about memories. And here at SEC Country, we wanted to reflect on the best — and worst — of the last quarter-century.

This countdown is not just the best football moments or best games. It includes “where were you when” snapshots along with tales of players, teams and seasons.

It should be noted this list is limited to the so-called Big 3 sports. Apologies to other sports — especially track & field — but at some point, comparing moments across the spectrum becomes impossible.

Here are the previous top moments:

5. Clint Stoerner’s stumble and fumble vs. Tennessee in 1998

The Arkansas Razorbacks won their first eight games of the 1998 season. That included a 42-6 win over Alabama and a 24-20 road triumph over Auburn. It was the type of season Arkansas fans had long dreamed about.

The Hogs rose from outside the preseason rankings to No. 10 entering their ninth game at No. 1 Tennessee. A win over the Volunteers and the state of Arkansas would’ve been buzzing about championships — conference and national — on the horizon.

Arkansas raced out to a 21-3 lead in the first half, and Hog Nation could sense its dream season becoming a reality. In hindsight, it was just setting the stage for one of the most gut-wrenching losses in school history.

Tennessee rallied, cutting Arkansas’ lead to 24-22 late in the fourth quarter. But it seemed all for naught after the Razorbacks defense forced a turnover on downs at midfield with 1 minute, 54 seconds remaining.

The Hogs needed one first down to seal a victory. Even three kneeldowns and a punt would’ve made it extremely difficult for Tennessee, with just two timeouts, to take its first lead of the game.

After a 2-yard loss on first down, the Hogs called for a play-action pass hoping to put the game away. As quarterback Clint Stoerner turned to carry out the fake, right guard Brandon Burlsworth stepped on his foot. Stoerner tripped and attempted to use his right hand, with the ball in it, to regain his balance. He fumbled, Tennessee recovered and proceeded to score the game-winning touchdown with 28 seconds left.

The Hogs lost the next week at Mississippi State and later to Tom Brady and Michigan in the Citrus Bowl, finishing 9-3. As for the Vols, they won the SEC and the first BCS national championship.

The post Arkansas SEC moment No. 5: The Clint Stoerner fumble appeared first on SEC Country.

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