Auburned

Quarterback Matt Jones gingerly walked toward Arkansas' locker room, clearly favoring the groin injury that hampered his performance.

Meantime, right guard Gene Perry flashed a frustrated glare as he took one last look at the field. Receiver Steven Harris grimaced and fidgeted with the ice bag wrapped around his left knee. And cornerback Michael Coe, with grass stains coating his white No. 19 jersey, walked into the visitors' tunnel, his head hanging.

Fourth-ranked Auburn's offensive efficiency in the first half was the main reason for Arkansas' solemn departure from Jordan-Hare Stadium on Saturday.

The Tigers strengthened their drive for national title consideration and tightened their grip on the Southeastern Conference's Western Division by walking all over the Razorbacks during a 38-20 win in front of 87,451 Saturday.

Two weeks after Arkansas (3-3, 1-2 in SEC) let Florida jump to a 35-7 halftime lead, Auburn (7-0, 4-0) held a 30-7 advantage by scoring on all five first-half drives and taking advantage of the hobbled Jones with the SEC's top defense.

"They just outplayed us everywhere," said Jones, who was injured on Arkansas' first play. "They played extremely well. We didn't do much the first quarter or the first half, really. They were able to jump on top of us.

"We can't keep letting teams get out 24-0 on us and expect to come back and win."

The Tigers crippled Arkansas by piling up 17 points and 227 first-quarter yards, a statistic Auburn coach Tommy Tuberville thought was a "misprint." Auburn turned in six plays of 20 yards or more in the first half behind quarterback Jason Campbell, who completed 17 of 19 passes for a career-high 297 yards and 3 touchdowns in the game.

"Today was a great day for our offense," Campbell said. "I was very comfortable in the pocket. I just seemed to get in a zone."

Said Tuberville: "We played well on both sides of the ball and we dominated offensively in the first half."

The Tigers fooled the Razorbacks on their first possession when Campbell handed the ball to tailback Carnell Williams, who gave it to receiver Courtney Taylor. Taylor flipped the ball back to Campbell, who found receiver Devin Aromashodu alone past Arkansas' secondary for a 67-yard touchdown and 7-0 lead.

Auburn didn't slow down, adding John Vaughn's 27-yard field goal on its next drive and Taylor's diving 30-yard touchdown grab for a 17-0 lead. Tailback Ronnie Brown smashed into the end zone for a 1-yard touchdown run and backfield mate Williams notched a 2-yard score in the second quarter.

Auburn scored the game's first 30 points and had 322 first-half yards.

"It's real discouraging when you start out the same way we did against Florida," said Arkansas senior defensive end Jeb Huckeba. "You get in a hole and it's tough to come out of against a good team. Give credit to them, but we didn't do our job as a defense.

"It's just tough when they drive all the way down. They convert on third down and their receivers catch it. You keep going first down, second down, third down, first down, second down ... It makes it tough."

About the only thing that went wrong for the Tigers was place-kicker John Vaughn's missed extra point in the second quarter. Vaughn's miss snapped Auburn's SEC record streak of 209 consecutive extra points.

Auburn finished amassed 522 yards and converted 6 of 10 times on third downs.

"I think our effort is better, but it was like deja vu," said Arkansas defensive coordinator Dave Wommack. "It's disappointing and it's frustrating."

Arkansas carried the SEC's top-ranked offense into Saturday's game without key cogs in starting right tackle Zac Tubbs (broken ankle) and fullback Peyton Hillis (lower back injury). Tubbs was replaced by redshirt freshman tackle Matt Gilbow, who was making his first start. True freshman split end Marcus Monk also made his.

Monk turned in the best performance of his young career, catching 5 passes for 87 yards, but the Hogs failed twice on fourth down in Auburn territory in the first half. Arkansas had no chance of matching the potent Tigers point for point with an injured Jones, who said he was only 70 percent after the first play.

Jones completed 12 of 27 passes for 189 yards and 2 touchdowns and rushed for 54 yards on four attempts. All of that came on one run in the second quarter, a play Arkansas coach Houston Nutt and Jones said the quarterback would've normally scored on.

"He fought through some things, but it takes away about half or three-quarters of your offense when he can't move," Nutt said. "There's some things we wanted to do he probably could have done, but he wasn't able to."

Arkansas got in the end zone with 1 minutes, 6 seconds left in the half when Jones found receiver Chris Baker for a 19-yard score to cut Auburn's lead to 30-7. The Hogs tried to come back in the third quarter when Jones hit Harris for a 61-yard touchdown on the Hogs first possession, but couldn't crawl any closer than 30-14.

Campbell threw his third touchdown pass to receiver Ben Obomanu and the 19-yard score opened Auburn's lead to 38-14 and killed any hopes of an Arkansas comeback.

Auburn won its ninth consecutive game and beat Arkansas back-to-back for the first time since 1996 and 1997.

The Hogs will try to snap their two-game losing streak next weekend against No. 12 Georgia, which beat Vanderbilt 33-3 on Saturday.

But receiver Cedric Washington said the only way they'll accomplish that is by getting off to a better start on both sides of the ball.

"We can't keep playing from behind like this," Washington said. "That's not how you beat the No. 4 team in the country. These losses wear on you.

"But we can't turn on each other. We can't point fingers. All we can do is get our lunch pail and go to work every day."

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