Cedric Cobbs scored on a 1-yard sweep with 18 seconds left to climax an 11-play, 49-yard drive ... sparked when UNLV's punter bobbled a snap and was tackled for a 12-yard loss.
Sorahan, transfer from Foothills, Calif., Community College, ignited the Hogs with two fourth-down completions. First, he converted fourth-and-5 with a 7-yard out throw to Steven Harris. Then, on a fourth-and-10 he hit George Wilson with an over-the-middle throw. The 13-yard play moved the Hogs to the UNLV 24.
Then, on a second-and-10, Sorahan found Richard Smith on an out route. UNLV cornerback Kevin Thomas, an All-America candidate, stepped in front of Smith to try for an interception, but misread the angle. When the ball made it through to Smith, he turned to find clear sailing down the sideline. He juked two Rebels before stepping out of bounds at the 1-yard line. Cobbs circled his right end on the next play for the winning points.
The Hogs made just 114 yards in total offense on their 58 plays, a paltry average of 2.0 per play. They had five first downs. Of course, 49 yards came on their final drive.
UNLV was held to just 11 first downs and 258 total yards. The Rebels ran 70 plays, to Arkansas' 58, and averaged 4.3 yards per play.
"It was a beautiful win," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "I don't care what you say, it was beautiful to win it that way. We are 1-0 and happy with the way we played at the end. Our defense was awesome.
"We struggled, but we never quit. That was obvious on our sideline and I was proud of the way we hung in no matter what we did. We were close to getting started a bunch of time, then we'd fumble it. Fred Talley lost one, and then Brandon Holmes lost one. But we made some plays at the end.
"I've never had a finish like that. I've never been so proud of a defense. I felt frustrated because I couldn't help the defense. Their effort was phenomenal. Most of the players on defense were out there every play. Lawrence Richardson, Ken Hamlin and Batman (Carroll) are big-time players. I'm more proud of what Lawrence has done off the field than what he did on the field."
On the final play, Nutt said, "Cedric is our best back and that's why we gave it to him at the end."
On who will be the Hogs' starting quarterback, Nutt said, "We'll have to look at the film."
Quarterback coach David Lee said the same thing, but admitted, "We'll give Ryan Sorahan a hard look after what we did at the end. We had them spread out with three wideouts at the end and that helped open things up for Ryan, but we had that on the series earlier with Zak Clark and he missed the out twice when we had it open. That's why we turned to Ryan."
Lee added, "This amounted to our second scrimamge. It doesn't surprise me that we struggled. We've got young quarterbacks. They are going to be fine, but we need to play some games. Ryan got it done at the end and I'm so proud of him."
Sorahan said there was no rhythm to the game, until the end.
"I finally felt like my old self on that last drive," he said. "I had been in another series and got some rhythm. Earlier, none of us had any rhythm. I've never warmed up so many times as I did tonight. I don't think any of us have ever been in a game anything like it.
"These fans were amazing. There are no fans like them. It was great. I'd heard, but I saw it tonight. I'm so happy that it worked out for them because they stuck with us."
Arkansas didn't make a first down on their own power until the 7:24 mark, and Arkansas waited til the very end to squeak out a 14-10 victory in the most defensive of football games Thursday night at War Memorial Stadium.
The Hogs played four quarterbacks and none had any success as the offensive line could muster no running room or pass protection until the last drive of the game. It didn't matter that the defense was superb, scoring a TD on Lawrence Richardson's 45-yard interception return.
The first half was abysmal for the Razorbacks. The only thing good that happened is that there were no injuries.
Neither team could make a first down in its first two possessions, but Nevada-Las Vegas still earned a 3-0 lead when Troy Mason's 39-yard punt return to the Arkansas 11-yard line. Richie Butler saved a touchdown with an open-field tackle. Dillon Pieffer's 27-yard field goal made it 3-0 with 6:13 to play in the opening quarter.
UNLV finally got a first down at the 1:05 mark of the first quarter, the only one by either team in the opening quarter.
The Hogs didn't like Zak Clark's slow start, and pulled him after an incompletion on a rollout on a first down play at the 14-minute mark of the second quarter. Ryan Sorahan promptly was intercepted on his first pass, his second play. The pass was tipped at the line of scrimmage. Linebacker Shanga Wilson had it fall into his hands. He scampered 40 yards down the sideline before George Wilson caught him from behind at the 12. A face mask moved it to the 6-yard line.
Thomas covered it in one play, escaping a tackle to toss an option pitch forward just before crossing the line. Tailback Jabari Johnson sailed in untouched on the 6-yard pass play. It was 10-0 at 12:59 of the second quarter.
The Hogs finally got a first down – by penalty on a holding call that wiped out a sack – at the 12-minute mark. The Hogs played their third quarterback of the half on the next play, but it was a nightmare, too. Gerald Howard's option pitch was behind Fred Talley for a fumble. The UA tailback did manage to cover it for a 6-yard loss.
The Hogs got a turnover when Jermaine Petty knocked the ball loose and Ken Hamlin covered it at the UNLV 35-yard line. They went backwards. Howard lost three on the option, and Clark was sacked for an 8-yard loss. Clark's screen pass couldn't be handled by Cedric Cobbs. It wouldn't have mattered since LaZerius White and Josh Melton, the blockers in front of him in the flats, both whiffed on their blocks.
When the Hogs got it back on a shanked punt at their own 40, they inserted their fourth quarterback, true freshman Tarvaris Jackson. The Hogs gave it to Talley twice up the gut, and he was headed for a first down on the second dash, but was knocked loose from the ball.
Arkansas' defense got another turnover, but didn't really help because of Curt Davis' late hit after the play. Thomas threw an interception right to Caleb Miller. Miller returned it 12 yards to the 50, but Davis hit Thomas and chased him out of bounds into the UNLV bench area after the play.
The Hogs self destructed when Josh Melton appeared to snap the ball before anyone was ready. Jackson couldn't handle it, and UNLV's nose guard got the recovery at the UA 32-yard line. The UA defense gave up one first down, but then came up with three straight lost yardage plays to force a punt into the end zone.
Arkansas finished the half without a first down (aside from the holding penalty) on their own when they ran out the final 1:02 with Clark at quarterback. Cedric Cobbs did make a miraculous 7 yards on first down, but not because anyone blocked for him. He waited and waited on a sweep, then broke a tackle to sneak through the Rebel defense. He was tripped up for a two-yard loss on second down, and the Hogs declined to run a play in