TUSCALOOSA | Most of the time Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson directs a high-powered Razorback offense that churns at a frantic pace.
But in the waning minutes of the second quarter against third-ranked Alabama, one momentum-shifting error by Wilson became a surreal moment of almost slow-motion agony.
With his Razorbacks standing toe-to-toe with the Crimson Tide, Wilson faced a third-and-7 on the Arkansas 23-yard line when time seemed to stand still.
Alabama brought pressure from the outside and Wilson tried to zip a quick slant pass to Greg Childs, but the errant throw hit Crimson Tide cornerback DeQuan Menzie in the arm and bounced into the air.
Menzie never lost his concentration, grabbed the tipped ball and returned it 25 yards for a back-breaking touchdown. The defensive play transformed a narrow 3-point Alabama lead into a 17-7 halftime advantage that deflated the stunned Razorbacks.
"They brought pressure from the boundary," Wilson said. "I knew I had to get it out of my hands quick. It was one of those throws you would like to have back."
Until that crushing play, Wilson appeared to be chipping away at the Crimson Tide defense.
In the first quarter, he led a 12-play, 63-yard drive that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Dennis Johnson that tied the score 7-7. Wilson completed 9-of-10 passes for 67 yards during the march.
"(Tyler) had a real nice series there in the first quarter," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "He executed, stood in there, he's tough. He made some plays. We didn't give him a lot of help.
"The (play) that really did hurt us, which you cannot do, is the interception in the first half. We were in a position there to go into halftime in good shape and we give them seven points."
The Razorbacks had the first possession of the second half, but they failed to mount a threat and were dealt another damaging blow when Marquis Maze returned a punt 83 yards for a touchdown.
From there the meltdown continued as Arkansas allowed a 61-yard touchdown pass to Trent Richardson that inflated the Crimson Tide lead to 31-7 in the third quarter.
"They beat us in all three phases," Petrino said. "I thought in the first half our defense hung in there and gave us a chance to come out in the second half and show what we could do offensively and get back in the game but we weren't able to do it.
"They made all the big plays and we didn't. Offensively we just couldn't get anything established. They controlled the line of scrimmage on both sides."
Even though Alabama did not have a sack against Wilson, the Tide brought pressure in the second half and forced him to the ground several times.
He finished with 185 yards passing and two touchdowns, but the Razorbacks rushed for just 17 yards.
"You would like to be able to run the football and we've got to work on that, but we've also got to be able to throw the ball better than we did today," Wilson said. "I think there was a lot of stuff left on the field.
"They brought a lot of pressure. We've got to handle it better. We've got to stand there and compete with them."