Hogs clawed, never thawed, in 2010 Liberty Bowl game

Arkansas kicker Alex Tejada is surrounded by teammates after kicking a game winning fieldgoal in over time to beat East Carolina 20-17 in the Liberty Bowl on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2010.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks will gladly take an outcome similar to the last time they played in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis.

But when the Razorbacks kick off Saturday against Kansas State, they would prefer a different weather pattern, and maybe a healthier third-down conversion rate than what they posted in their 20-17 overtime victory over East Carolina on Jan. 2, 2010.

Frigid air blew across the deep South for the game at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, dropping the temperature to 29 degrees at the 4:30 p.m. kickoff. By the time the game ended, the temperature had dropped into the low 20s and the windchill factor was 15 degrees.

Tenarius Wright, a redshirt freshman defensive end on that team, can still feel it.

"The one thing you can't forget is the weather," said Wright, who is from Memphis and is now a second-year strength and conditioning assistant for Coach Bret Bielema. "You can't forget the overtime, how much of a grind it was just to go win the game through the wind experience."

Pregame warmups were brutally cold.

"It was the coldest I've ever been as a coach going out to get a team prepared," said Bobby Allen, a defensive assistant for the 2009 Razorbacks and now the program's director of high school and NFL relations. "It didn't matter what you put on, it wasn't going to be enough."

Arkansas fans showed up in force despite the weather, pushing attendance to 62,742, the Liberty Bowl's second-largest crowd.

Current Arkansas senior quarterback Brandon Allen, the son of Bobby Allen, attended the game as a 17-year-old with his brothers Austin and Christian on the Arkansas sideline.

"I was so cold," he said. "I don't remember the game. I don't remember anything that was going on. I was sitting right by the heater is all I wanted to do."

Allen said he remembered seeing a mishap with former Arkansas quarterback Quinn Grovey, the sideline reporter for the Razorbacks' radio network, who was standing too close to the heater when he turned to watch a play.

"I was right there when Quinn Grovey's pants melted, so I remember that," Allen recalled.

The 2009 Razorbacks, under second-year Coach Bobby Petrino, were not at their best offensively. Coach Skip Holtz's East Carolina club outgained Arkansas 393-283, and the Razorbacks went 0 for 13 on third-down conversions.

Arkansas and Colorado State were the only two teams during the 2009 season to win a game without a third-down conversion, according to STATS LLC.

The Pirates dictated the tempo, with 24 first downs to Arkansas' 10, but the Razorbacks took advantage of big plays and four missed field goals from East Carolina kicker Ben Hartman.

The Razorbacks rallied for a tie on Alex Tejada's 25-yard field goal and Tramain Thomas' 37-yard interception return for a touchdown after trailing 10-0 at halftime.

East Carolina went back on top on Dwayne Harris' 13-yard touchdown catch from Patrick Pinkney, and the Razorbacks answered with Jarius Wright's 41-yard deep-ball touchdown from Ryan Mallett.

Hartman, who became the school's all-time scoring leader in the game, missed two field goals from 39 yards, one with 1:03 left in regulation, and the other on the final play of regulation. Hartman missed a 35-yard field goal in overtime, and Arkansas (8-5) won it on Tejada's 37-yard field goal.

For Tejada, from Springdale, it was a reversal of fortune after a late miss in a 23-20 loss at No. 1 Florida and then in overtime in the season finale at LSU.

The Pirates, who finished 9-5, built their game plan around running back Dominique Lindsey, who rushed for 151 yards on 33 carries and opened the scoring with a 3-yard touchdown run to cap a 99-yard drive.

"They were better than people thought they were," said Alfred Davis, a redshirt freshman defensive lineman for that Arkansas team and now a second-year graduate assistant on defense. "I remember it was a really cold game and ECU was pretty good."

Davis said the Razorbacks practiced outside for parts of their bowl preparation because the forecast called for a cold day in Memphis.

Mallett was named MVP after completing 15 of 36 passes for 202 yards.

"To see both teams go out and perform throwing the ball at the level we did and it being that cold, that was a credit to Ryan that day," Bobby Allen said.

It might have been cold on game day, but there was nothing cool about the hospitality shown by the city for the bowl organizers.

"It was a nice bowl," Wright said. "They took care of you. They had great food, good barbecue and chicken ... a nice hospitality room.

"The Peabody treated us well. I loved it. Especially being in my home city."

Sports on 12/28/2015