Arkansas 63, SEMO St. 7

No. 17 Arkansas scores early, often and in a variety of ways - including Keith Jackson's 69-yard interception return for a score - while hammering Southeast Missouri State 63-7 in the Razorbacks' Homecoming game before an announced crowd of 72,403 fans at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

If the University of Arkansas runs out running backs or cornerback, there's always Keith Jackson, Jr.

Jackson, the son of former NFL great and current UA color man Keith Jackson, made like a running back - or a lockdown cover corner – by picking off a pass Saturday and tacking it to the house.

That was just one of big plays that the No. 17 Razorbacks used Saturday afternoon to hammer Division I-AA Southeast Missouri State 63-7 before an announced Homecoming crowd of 72,453 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"This was a good win," Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. "We had good concentration and were really focused on both offense and defense. We were focused and on a mission. We kept our blinders on which is what we need to do for every game."

It was the fifth straight win for Arkansas (5-1, 3-0), who took a break from SEC action to pound the overmatched Redhawks (3-3) into submission by halftime with a 42-0 advantage.

That allowed the Razorbacks to empty the bench in the second half with 12 different players carrying the ball on the day.

"We just had more depth than they do and we were able to play almost everybody on the sideline," Nutt said. "Those guys deserve that. They work hard in practice and we wanted to make sure they got playing time."

SEMO head coach Tony Samuel, whose program picked up $300,000 to be the sacrifical Homecoming victim, knew his squad was walking into a slaughter.

"We expected the game to be like this," Samuel said. "Arkansas is a good team and we just don't match up. Our plan was to come and use this as exprience to get better for our next game."

The win came on Nutt's 49th birthday and a week after taking down No. 2 Auburn 27-10 on the Tigers' home field.

Darren McFadden scored two touchdowns – one a 52-yard scoring jaunt on his first touch of the day, fellow sophomore running back Felix Jones raced in on an 85-yard sprint and third-string tailback Michael Smith scored the first two touchdowns of his career all before halftime.

But the most entertaining score of the first half was Jackson's pick – which came on the second throw of a double pass – and his rumble of 69 yards for the score.

That run included a stiff arm reminiscent of McFadden, who has used it as a weapon in his arsenal.

"I saw the running back outside with the ball and the quarterback to the other side, so I took a chance of it being a throwback," Jackson said. "I saw the quarterback come in front of meso I just gave him a stiff arm and kept running."

That pick and return and a sack among his four tackles was good enough to earn Jackson the Crip Hall Award, an honor for the outstanding senior performance in the Homecoming game.

"Keith Jackson had a great game," Nutt said. "He showed us his old fullback days. He made a good interception and I thought we might have to give him oxygen when he got back to the sidelines.

"He has been a great leader for our football team," Jackson said. "We saw his commitment this summer. He is a leader on the field, in the locker room, in class and in church. He has really stepped it up this year."

It is the first time that Arkansas has won five straight games since 2002 - when the Razorbacks won their final six of the regular season – and also surpassed the program's win total of last season during a 4-7 campaign.

It also was a victory that should help continue to be build confidence for the SEC West-leading Razorbacks, who get back to league action by hosting Ole Miss next Saturday at 11:30 a.m.

"There's a sense of urgency to everything we do now because we know we have a chance to win something," Smith said. Smith (116) and Jones (106) both went over 100 yards rushing and McFadden added 71 on a day when the Razorbacks rolled up over 381 yards on the ground on a day and 530 yards total offense.

Arkansas starting quarterback Mitch Mustain was 5-of-13 passing for 51 yards while splitting time in both halves with sophomore back-up Dick, who was 8-of-9 for 98 yards and two scores in his first significant action of the season after an off season injury.

Clark Irwin, the redshirt freshman from Little Rock Central whose job has been to send in the plays to Mustain and Dick, finished up the game.

"Casey DIck played well and was accurate," Nutt said. "He didn't have any back pain. We are glad to have both quarterbacks well. We aren't going to be afraid to put either of them in. Casey showed a lot more confidence today."

Mustain's touchdown pass was a 4-yard one to former Springdale teammate Damian Williams. It came on the first series of the second half as the Razorbacks led 49-0 with 9:12 left in the third quarter.

Southeast Missouri State broke up the shutout on its next possession against Arkansas' second team with a 44-yard pass from Kevin Ballatore to Brandon Simpson being the big play.

Although the Razorbacks put back in their first-team defense at that point, John Radney scored the Redhawks' TD on an 8-yard run in agame where they were held to under 150 yards total offense.

Smith also had a 48-yard kickoff return to set up the Razorbacks' eighth touchdown of the day, a pass from Dick to Chris Baker that made it 56-7 with 2:52 left in the third quarter.

Dick also threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to true freshman London Crawford early in the fourth quarter, a touchdown helped set up by a 22-yard pass to former quarterback Robert Johnson.

"I was so happy to get Robert healthy and back out there," Nutt said.

It took just one offensive play for Arkansas to take the lead with McFadden ripping through Redhawk defenders and racing 52 yards to paydirt at the 12:03 mark.

Jeremy Davis' PAT gave his team a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the game.

"Darren McFadden's opening run for a touchdown today helped set the tone of the game," Nutt said. "It settled everything down and gave us confidence. This is what we wanted to do. It let the air out of their tires and basically gave them no hope."

It moved to 14-0 later in the quarter when McFadden scored from 3 yards out, three plays after Mustain's 15-yard pass to Monk had set up the score.

Jackson's pick and return boosted it to 21-0 at the 8:37 mark in the second quarter and then Jones ran away from the pack on his 85-yard run to the end zone and Davis booted through another PAT to make it 28-0 just a few minutes later.

Smith then got in on the action with a pair of scores, a 10-yard run with 3:30 left into the first half and then a 11-yarder with less than a minute remaining before intermission to make it 42-0.

Arkansas played the game without star defensive end Antwain Robinson, who sit out the game due to injury.

It did suffer two injuries in the contest with Cedric Washington and Darius Vinnett both suffering concussions.





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