Freshmen Make Strides in Red-White Game

Freshman quarterback Tarvaris Jackson passed for 108 yards and a touchdown while freshman tailback De'Arrius Howard racked up 53 yards on the ground as the red team held off a late white team charge to post a 13-7 win on Saturday afternoon in the annual Arkansas Razorbacks' spring game at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Jackson hooked up with senior wide receiver Sparky Hamilton on a 36-yard touchdown pass and junior Brennan O'Donohoe connected on field goals of 32 and 38 yards to give the red squad the victory. Red team head coach and senior defensive lineman Jermaine Brooks earned his first career win and was doused with a cooler full of water following the victory. Brooks enjoyed his coaching debut, but is looking forward to returning to the playing field in the fall after recovering from shoulder surgery.

"I would've rather been on the field playing," Brooks said. "We came out and we knew that there is a time to play and a time of decision. At the beginning of the scrimmage we were playing. We got down to business. We executed our plays. We had some mess ups, but we made up for them. We were running the same play right at them and it was working for us."

Howard was the game's leading rusher despite missing the final seven practices of the spring. The West Memphis, Ark., native returned home last week after his older brother passed away unexpectedly. On Saturday afternoon, Howard carried the ball nine times and boasted a 5.9 yards-per-rush average.

"He is something," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "He is really something. He is a powerful guy. He didn't look like he took any days off. He just picked up where he left off. He wanted to (play) so bad. We weren't going to play him, but he wanted to so bad. He is an excellent tailback. I'm glad he decided to come here."

Hamilton led all receivers with 67 yards on three catches including a 36-yard touchdown reception from Jackson. Nutt says that the Lufkin, Texas, product has a history of stepping up down the stretch.

"Sparky came on for us," Nutt said. "He always comes on late for us like he did last season. We want him to gear up right now. When we start our individual meetings next week that is one of things that we will talk to Sparky about."

Sophomore quarterback Ryan Sorahan led a white team comeback in the fourth quarter. Trailing 13-0 in the final period, Sorahan connected with sophomore Decori Birmingham on a 54-yard pass completion. On the next snap redshirt freshman Kyle Dickerson found paydirt on an 11-yard run.

Birmingham earned four catches for 65 yards on the afternoon while junior Cedric Cobbs was the white squads' top rusher with 33 yards on three carries. Sorahan completed four of nine passes for 64 yards. Sophomore Matt Jones completed two of three pass attempts for two yards.

Junior strong safety Jimarr Gallon led all tacklers with nine stops including a tackle for loss for the white team. Senior linebacker Gavin Walls had six tackles while sophomore linebacker Jeb Huckeba, junior cornerback Bo Mosley and redshirt freshman free safety Jackson Purcell each finished with five tackles for the white squad. Junior Jimmy Beasley snared the only interception of the day in a losing effort.

Junior outside linebacker Tony Bua paced the red team with four tackles including a sack. Red team captain Raymond House tallied two tackles including a 13-yard sack.

Saturday's scrimmage was the culmination of spring practice for the Razorbacks. Arkansas will continue to participate in off-season conditioning and weight lifting programs before reporting for two-a-day practices next August. Nutt was pleased with the progress of his squad this spring, but knows that a lot remains to be done before the season opener.

"I feel good, but you always want a few more defensive linemen," Nutt said. "You want some guys to improve. You want to have a great summer. We still have a long way to go and I'm glad we still have 29 more practices before our first game."

Arkansas opens the 2002 season on Sept. 7 against Boise State in Fayetteville.

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