Rushing Mark Will Have To Wait

LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas running back Darren McFadden's Little Rock homecoming didn't finish with the school's career rushing mark.

It ended with bruised ribs and an early trip to the locker room.

McFadden, who needed 154 yards to break Ben Cowins' school mark of 3,570, ran for a season-low 122 yards and a touchdown in Arkansas' 35-16 win against Tennessee-Chattanooga. The junior set one school record by notching his 17th, 100-yard rushing game, but it wasn't the one he coveted the most when he stepped on the field Saturday.

"If it was me, it would be hard," teammate Felix Jones said. "You're playing in front of your home crowd. It's hard when you can't run the ball like you want to. I think there was a little bit of pressure on him."

Arkansas entered the game knowing the record was no guarantee, considering McFadden didn't play in the second half of last week's 66-7 win against North Texas. In fact, the most debated question entering the night was whether he would stay on the field long enough to break the record against a team coming off a 45-16 loss to The Citadel.

McFadden got plenty of chances -- 25 carries -- in a surprisingly tight game. He started strong by rushing for 41 yards on Arkansas' first scoring drive, then capped it with a two-yard plunge to make it 7-2.

But then McFadden's night started to unravel -- by the Heisman Trophy candidate's lofty standards.

He ripped through a big hole later in the first quarter, but the ball was poked out of his hands and recovered by the Mocs. In the second quarter, McFadden lined up in the Wildcat formation -- the only time he did so during the game -- and had a shotgun snap slip through his fingers. It was recovered by UTC to wipe away another first-half scoring chance.

"I guess they played good defense," McFadden said.

The Mocs converted the turnover into a touchdown, closing Arkansas' lead to 14-9 in the second quarter.

"He's not a fumbler," coach Houston Nutt said. "He's got to keep that ball protected, got to keep it locked up and he knows that."

McFadden eventually eclipsed the 100-yard mark in the second half, but his night ended after a nine-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter.

Nutt said McFadden has had sore ribs for a couple of weeks, but they were re-aggravated when he took a shot under his pads against a UTC team that showed off plenty of physical play against the bigger, deeper Razorbacks.

McFadden spent the next few minutes pacing the sideline, then headed to the Arkansas locker room with trainer Dean Weber for treatment.

"I took him out once I knew his ribs were, for sure, bothering him," Nutt said. "We weren't going to take a chance."

McFadden said his ribs were sore, but wasn't concerned about his health or performance. He said his primary goal was helping Arkansas win another game and the record was "not something to distract" him.

McFadden now needs 32 yards to break Cowins' school record and will get the chance against Auburn next week. Jones said he's confident his teammate will bounce back after a disappointing finish Saturday.

"I just tell him to keep pushing. It's not over yet," Jones said. "He knows he's a very valuable player on this team. He's just feeling a little pressure right now, that's all. I just tell him to go out and play your game. We'll get things done."

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