Senior Jeb Huckeba recorded a career-high three sacks, one resulting in freshman Marcus Harrison's 18-yard fumble return for a touchdown. A gang of Hogs stuffed Georgia tailback Danny Ware inches from the end zone on fourth-and-goal and the defense had several more key stops to support a much-maligned unit.
Huckeba said earlier in the week the Hogs desperately needed to make big plays.
They got plenty of them Saturday night.
But it still wasn't enough to beat No. 10 Georgia.
Arkansas' losing skid stretched to three games with its 20-14 homecoming loss in front of 71,644 in Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Hogs were a different team than the one that was pelted at Florida and at Auburn the past two outings, but they still dropped their fourth straight game against the Bulldogs.
"We thought tonight was our night," Huckeba said. "And we played our butts off. It hurts right now because we gave such great effort."
Georgia quarterback David Greene completed 22 of 29 passes for a career-high 382 yards and 2 touchdowns, while the nation's fourth-ranked defense limited the Hogs' banged-up offense to one touchdown. After trailing 14-10 at halftime, Greene's 10-yard touchdown pass to tight end Leonard Pope with 4:48 left in the third quarter proved to be the winning score.
The Bulldogs (6-1, 3-1 in Southeastern Conference) recorded their first road win since a 20-16 win at South Carolina on Sept. 11.
Arkansas (3-4, 1-3) dropped to 0-6 in October the past two years and must now win three of its final four games to become bowl eligible.
"We had chances and we had chances, but we gave it away," said Arkansas defensive tackle Jeremy Harrell. "We felt like we played our best game (defensively)."
The difference was evident on the first play from scrimmage when Georgia receiver Reggie Brown caught a 33-yard pass from Greene, but had the ball clawed from his hands by free safety Vickiel Vaughn. Cornerback Darius Vinnett recovered it at Arkansas 31 and the turnover set the tempo in the early going.
Jones started the game despite a pulled groin suffered on the first play of last week's 38-20 loss at Auburn and helped Arkansas move the ball, rolling deep into Georgia territory twice in the first quarter. The first drive ended in disappointment when place-kicker Chris Balseiro missed a 27-yard field-goal attempt, but Arkansas grabbed a 7-0 lead when Monk snared a 17-yard touchdown catch between two Georgia defenders.
Jones completed five of his first six passes for 96 yards. Monk had three catches for 52 yards and the touchdown in the first quarter.
"We knew Matt Jones was going to play," said Georgia defensive end David Pollack. "You don't sit a guy like that on the bench. He is a phenomenal athlete. He doesn't look like it, but he can fly and he looked to be running fine."
Georgia outgained Arkansas 308 yards to 191 in the first half, but the Hogs turned in huge defensive plays when they needed them.
The biggest came when Huckeba blew past Georgia left tackle Ken Shackleford on third-and-2 with less than 2 minutes remaining in the second quarter. The senior drilled Greene, jarring the ball loose and Harrison scooped it at the 18-yard line and scored to give the Hogs a 14-10 lead.
It was Arkansas' first defensive touchdown this season.
"Our defense played their best game all year," said Arkansas coach Houston Nutt. "Jeb played the best game of his career."
But the Hogs could do little offensively to capitalize on the defensive effort.
Arkansas was held to a season-low 278 yards, 87 in the second half.
Things began to unravel when tailback DeCori Birmingham took an option pitch from Jones and was hit from behind by linebacker Odell Thurman. The ball popped free and was recovered by Derrick White at Arkansas' 34 with 7:16 left in the third quarter.
Greene found Pope in the end zone five plays later to give Georgia a 17-14 lead.
Pollack, a two-time All-American, forced a second turnover in the fourth quarter when he stripped the ball from Jones and recovered it at Arkansas' 8. The Bulldogs couldn't punch the ball in the end zone, but Andy Bailey made a 24-yard field goal to give them a 20-14 lead.
"It is all discipline with (Pollack)," said Georgia coach Mark Richt. "If you don't play right, he will break free. That strip was huge for us."
Jones said his left leg tightened throughout the game and told Nutt the Hogs had a better chance to win with backup Robert Johnson after the fumble. But Johnson was swallowed by Georgia's speedy front that sacked him twice and the Hogs were held scoreless in the second half.
"Our defense played their guts out," said Birmingham, who finished with 30 rushing and 46 receiving yards. "They even scored a touchdown for us. It's scary to think what it would be like if we play a complete game."
Georgia tailback Thomas Brown ran for 107 yards on 23 attempts. Receivers Reggie Brown (7 catches, 107 yards) and Fred Gibson (6-169-1 touchdown) had huge outings. The Bulldogs gained 513 yards, but scored only 20 points because of nine penalties, two turnovers and two missed field goals.
"It's almost impossible to do that these days," Greene said. "We found a way to shoot ourselves in the foot."
Meantime, Arkansas lost its third consecutive game to a ranked opponent and lost its third game this season to a top-10 team. The Razorbacks have a bye week to help heal their banged up players and prepare for a key stretch that'll determine the postseason future.
Arkansas plays at South Carolina, Ole Miss, at Mississippi State and LSU.
"We've got to keep our heads up," Harrell said. "A lot of teams would call it a season, we're not going to. This is tough, but we've got four big games coming up.
"Everybody sees the potential this team has and we feel like we can win them."
Good Effort, Bad Result
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