Razorbacks Win Opener, 38-0

Robby Hampton completed 17 of 22 passes in his first start to lead Arkansas to a 38-0 victory over Southwest Missouri in the season opener Saturday night at War Memorial Stadium. Hampton retired for the night with the Hogs up 31-0 just one play into the fourth quarter.

The sophomore from Mt. Pleasant, Texas, was superb in Arkansas' short passing game early, then hooked up with Boo Williams on a 79-yard bomb late in the third quarter to prove he could go deep, too. Hampton threw for 237 yards and two touchdowns. Of his five incompletions, three were drops by his receivers.
 
The heat was obvious from the outset. The temperature was 93 at the 8 p.m. kickoff. It probably kept a few fans away. Attendance was announced at 53,946, just a couple thousand under capacity. The Arkansas band decided against wearing its regular uniforms in favor of cool, white t-shirts and red shorts.
 
The Hogs converted three first downs on their opening possession, but the only play longer than six yards was a 22-yard screen pass to Cedric Cobbs. The Hogs didn't try a pass down field, but Robby Hampton did scramble twice on sprint outs, once to convert third-and-four. The Hogs punted after reaching the SMS 42. Cobbs carried six times for 16 yards in the drive.
 
SMS's first possession wasn't much. The Hogs stuffed the run and then took the ball when Ken Hamlin intercepted an overthrown bomb.
 
The Hogs turned to the air on their second possession. Faking to his tailbacks, Hampton completed six straight passes to move the Hogs to the SMS 3-yard line. One of his completion's (a 25-yarder to Richard Smith)was erased because Cobbs was in motion, but Hampton came back to find Smith for a screen good for 31 to the 5-yard line. A face mask moved the ball to the 3-yard line. It took Cobbs three plunges up the middle to score the TD. It was 7-0 at 14:20 of the second quarter after the 12-play, 78-yard march.
 
SMS's second possession was even less. Two of the Bears' three plays could have resulted in Arkansas TDs. Austin Mohermanl line, passing from near his own goal line, had two passes batted down by UofA blitzers, the first by Quinton Caver and another by Jeremiah Harper.
 
The Hogs marched 57 yards in eight plays to make it 14-0 on Hampton's 4-yard pass to tight end Marcellus Poydras. Cobbs got most of it on a 26-yard dash to the 4-yard line on a draw. The TD came on a nice read by Hampton. He wanted to go to Adam Daily in the flats, but found double coverage and quickly found Poydras open over the middle.
 
It took one play for the Hogs to get the ball back. Caver knocked the ball loose and Carlos Hall recovered at the SMS 18-yard line. Hampton lost 16 yards on a sack, but Matt Swartz, the senior walkon transfer, boomed a 49-yarder for a 17-0 lead at 7:32 of the second quarter. It was the Hogs' longest field goal since Todd Wright's 50-yarder against LSU in the finale of the 1992 season.
 
The Hogs outyarded the Bears, 179 to 33, in the first half. Hampton completed 12 of 14 passes for 127 yards. The Hogs were suspect only in penalties. They were assessed five for 59, two of them against Cobbs.
 
The second half started well for the Hogs. They held SMS to three and out and got the ball back at their 41 on a shanked punt George Wilson fair caught. It took seven plays for the Hogs to score. SMS helped with a pass interference penalty when Boo Williams was open on the bomb and on a face mask penalty. Alvin Ray cut behind Kenny Sandlin's clearing block on an 11-yard TD scamper to make it 24-0 at 9:18 of the third quarter. Hampton was four-of-four passing in the march.
 
SMS gained field position after Arkansas cornerback De'Andre Berry was ejected for a flagrant personal foul. But the Bears came up empty when Brian Long's 34-yard field goal was wide right.
 
Hampton and Boo Williams foiled an SMS blitz on a third-and-9 for a 79-yard touchdown bomb just three plays later. Hampton hung tough with a linebacker in his face to loft the pass down the SMS sideline. Williams hauled it in near midfield then outraced the small SMS cornerback. It was 31-0 with 1:36 left in the third quarter.
 
That was enough for Houston Nutt. He began wholesale substitutions. The Hogs were already down to their backup corners on defense with Berry ejected and Harold Harris in the locker room with a wrist injury. Eddie Jackson and Kevin Baker, a pair of redshirt freshmen, played the final 20 minutes.
 
With Jared McBride at quarterback, the Hogs marched 66 yards on seven plays. Fred Talley carried five times for 61 yards, including a 44-yard dash up the middle to the 1-yard line. He got the final yard two plays later behind a smashing block by right tackle Gary Hobbs. That made it 38-0 with 12:45 to play.
 
Zak Clark then took over for a turn. His first try under center ended in a punt, but the Hogs got the ball back when SMS had 12 men on the field for the second time on the night. The Hogs stalled at the SMS 33-yard line when Clark's fourth-and-7 pass for Steadman Campbell went incomplete.

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