Arkansas 42, Auburn 17 (Final)

Arkansas put together its first complete game with superb play on offense, defense and the kicking game to spank first-place Auburn, 42-17, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Matt Jones ran and passed for a touchdown to spark Arkansas to a runaway victory over Auburn, the last undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference before a crowd of 67,213.

Wide receiver Richard Smith caught two first-half touchdown passes, the second a momentum swinger of a 16-yarder with five seconds left in the first half.

Smith's second touchdown of the first half _ the other came on Jones' first collegiate pass - gave Arkansas (4-3, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) a 21-10 lead one play after a huge Auburn mistake in the final seconds of the first half.

Auburn (6-2, 4-1) used two timeouts to force a punt and took over at its 31 with 20 seconds left in the half. Trying for a big play, Daniel Cobb retreated and then turned to his left to attempt a screen pass. Cobb overthrew everybody except Tony Bua, who made the interception and stepped out of bounds at the 16 on his way to the end zone.

On first down, Clark threw left for Smith, who caught the ball and got a foot down before falling on his back in the end zone. He took a little push from the Auburn cornerback, before giving a little push back before reaching high for Clark's throw.

"I think because he pushed me first, the ref didn't call anything," Smith said. "That was a big play and Zak made a great throw.

"It wasn't really designed for me. All routes were verticals and I think he just liked what he saw with the coverage on me."

Arkansas coach Houston Nutt thought the TD just before half was a huge play.

"First, we thought Tony got in the end zone," Nutt said. "We were thinking extra point, and then we found out we were on the 16. We had to get a play ready in a hurry. Zak made a great throw. Give Zak credit. He was flawless in the first half.

"But the play by Tony Bua was huge. Tony's heart is as big as Donald W. Reynolds Stadium. His interception gave us a tremendous boost."

Auburn closed to 21-17 when Carnell Williams took a pitch heading left, split defenders, and ran by Ken Hamlin on a 55-yard dash.

Moments later, Arkansas got a break when Marvin Jackson fumbled a punt and the tiny cornerback jumped in a pile of Tigers to come up with the recovery at the Razorbacks' 28. A personal-foul penalty helped Arkansas reach midfield and then Jones faked a handoff to the right and started left. He pulled loose from linebacker Mayo Sowell's attempt at a shoetop tackle and turned on the speed for a 37-yard gain that set up Fred Talley's 12-yard touchdown run in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter.

"Matt Jones was great today," Nutt said. "He is a knuckleball kind of guy. They knew Matt could run, but they didn't know he could throw. They were not expecting the mid-line option. We threw them a curve." 

Williams ran through most of the Razorbacks for 38 yards to the Arkansas 26, but Hamlin caused Casinious Moore to fumble and Corey Harris returned the recovery 46 yards.

A personal-foul penalty and an unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty against the Auburn head coach preceded Jones' perfect read on an option that resulted in his 32-yard touchdown run - a play that made it 35-17 and sent Arkansas coach Houston Nutt scurrying down the sidelines to hug many members of the defensive unit seated in metal folding chairs.

Auburn had an excellent chance to establish momentum early in the third quarter, but Carter - running in the open - dropped the ball after a 37-yard gain. Then, Cobb missed a wide-open Carter and Damon Duval - strong-legged and reliable - put too much hook on a 49-yard field-goal attempt.

After Brandon Johnson's 18-yard sack of Clark and a 32-yard punt, Auburn started from midfield. But one first down later, the Tigers punted.

Arkansas was leading 7-3 and facing third-and-13 when Jones replaced Clark, who was 8-of-9 for 105 yards at that point. From the shotgun, Jones rolled left behind a moving pocket, stopped, took three steps upfield and then found Smith running behind safety Stanford Simmons.

The 63-yard drive started after Duval was barely wide on a 54-yard field-goal attempt.

Clark kept the drive alive with a 9-yard pass to Richard Smith on third-and-8. He also had a 16-yard completion to Gerald Howard and Cedric Cobbs contributed an 18-yard gain on a draw play.

Auburn's 12-play response included runs of 14, 6, 7, and 21 yards by freshman Williams and two third-down completions by Cobb. From the 8, Cobb threw to Tim Carter, who stretched to get the ball across the goal and fumbled. Bua had his hand on the ball for a moment, but lost control and Carter recovered in the end zone.

Arkansas might have made it a bigger rout had their linebackers not dropped four to five interceptions Cobbs threw right to their numbers.

"We missed some real opportunities today," said John Thompson, the UA defensive coordinator. "We were in position, but we didn't make all the plays that we usually make at linebacker and in the secondary."

Still, middle linebacker Jermaine Petty and Bua were outstanding. Petty had nine tackles, including five for lost yardage. Bua had 10 and an interception.

"Our guys played with a lot of heart against a very good offensive team," Thompson said. "They hit us with some plays and they have some very good backs. But, we hung in there and got it done."

Arkansas was playing without freshman cornerback Batman Carroll, suspended for missing some team meetings. The official release by the athletic department called it a team disciplinary suspension.

The Hogs did not suffer any major injuries. Kenny Sandlin hyper-extended his right elbow. Jeb Huckeba sustained an ankle sprain. Lawrence Richardson bruised his knee.

ZakClark

Zak Clark fires a pass against Auburn.

Houston Nutt

Houston Nutt checks the defense against Auburn.

Matt Jones

Matt Jones breaks past an Auburn defender.

Photos by Lance Davis

 

 

 


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