Razorbacks pull away from Aggies

Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones ran for 132 yards and had three third-quarter touchdowns to turn a close game against New Mexico State into a 48-20 victory Saturday. Marvin Jackson added a 73-yard punt return for a touchdown during a 28-point quarter that Arkansas (7-3) needed to win its third straight game.

Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones has shown all season he can be a double threat running and passing & Saturday was no exception as he helped break open a close game in the third quarter for a 48-20 Razorback win against New Mexico State at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Arkansas is now 7-3 on the year, while NMSU is 3-8. Jones ran for 132 yards on seven carries and three scores, and passed for 139 more yards and another score.

"One guy beat us," said NMSU linebacker Jimmy Cottrell said of Jones. "He's a good player. He'll be playing on Sundays. He makes it tough to tackle him. You watch him on tape and he doesn't seem that fast, but live he's very good." With Arkansas up just four, 21-17, midway through the third quarter, Jones went 62 yards for a score around down the left sideline on a quarterback keeper and the momentum was squarely back on Arkansas' shoulders.

It was the first of three Razorback touchdowns within in span of 3:43 midway through the third quarter that saw the Arkansas lead balloon to 42-17.

Arkansas forced an Aggie punt on the next possession and converted that into points. Marvin Jackson took the punt at the Razorback 27, broke a tackle and went nearly untouched down the left sideline. Arkansas moved ahead 35-17.

The capper came on the ensuing kickoff as Aggie kickoff returnee Gil Byrd was stripped of the ball at the 32. Arkansas recovered and returned it to the 14. Two plays later Jones scrambled in from 21 yards.

"Those quick scores hurt," Cottrell said. "We played hard. But we didn't finish. It's been like that this season. We just haven't been able to finish."

Said Samuel about the third quarter run: "Arkansas is a good team. They made some plays. The last touchdown really hurt. I have to look at the play (on tape) and see what happened. I don't know if the play was over or if he was going forward."

The Aggies weren't able to recover after the third quarter barrage. "When Arkansas scored off the punt return, then got the fumble, that was tough to overcome. That gave them the momentum," Cottrell said. Dario Aguiniga kicked a 43-yard field goal in the fourth quarter — the 46th of his career — for NMSU's final score.

Arkansas added a running touchdown from Kyle Dickerson with 15 seconds left to account for the final scoring margin.

NMSU pulled within 21-17 with 8:08 left in the third quarter as they went on a 7-play, 83-yard drive, capped by an 18-yard pass from Buck Pierce to Ronshay Jenkins. Pierce threw for 36 yards on the drive and a key play was a 46-yard run by running back Tony Joseph.

"We have guys that can make plays," Pierce said. "We were able to move the ball and we had a good plan." Pierce was 19 of 26 passing on the day for 214 yards, while Joseph had 112 yards rushing on 17 carries.

As a team, NMSU tallied 350 yards of total offense, while Arkansas totaled an even 500. "Arkansas has a good team," Cottrell said. "We felt good about ourselves early. We gave our best."

Samuel talked about controlling the ball earlier in the week and giving his team a chance to be close. In the first half, NMSU did just that. The Aggies had the ball for 16:30 to Arkansas' 13:30 and trailed just 14-10 at the half. NMSU closed gap to four right before the opening 30 minutes ended as it went on a 14-play, 82-yard drive that took up 4:29.

The drive was capped by a 12-yard pass from Pierce to Chris Duncan on a 3rd and 3. Duncan caught the pass at the five, slipped a tackle and scored.

The Aggies were 4 of 4 on third down conversions on the drive, Pierce was 4 of 4 for 44 yards on those third downs and was 6 of 6 all together for 73 yards. Joseph had a 12-yard run on the drive and caught a 16-yard pass out on the flat to get the drive started.

"We feel we can move the ball well against a lot of teams," Joseph said. "Buck played a great game. Our offensive line was solid." The first quarter was scoreless as both teams traded turnovers. Joseph fumbled on the Aggies' first drive, but Arkansas failed to capitalize. Later in the first quarter, the Razorbacks threatened to score, driving inside the Aggie 30. But NMSU safety Dominique Jacobs hit running back Cedric Cobbs and forced a fumble at the end of the run, which Aggie defensive lineman Traydell Bullock recovered.

NMSU put up the first points early in the second quarter, taking advantage of a special team's miscue by Arkansas. Razorbacks punter Jacob Skinner couldn't field a snap and was tackled at the Razorback 25. NMSU settled for a Dario Aguiniga 39-yard field goal.

But Arkansas came right back. Arkansas went 90 yards in just 2:46 to make it 7-3 on a Jones 25-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith. Smith also caught a 35-yard pass on the drive. Jones was 5 of 6 passing in the first half for 109 yards.

Jones led a 60-yard drive to put Arkansas up 14-3. Jones hit George Wilson with a 32-yard pass and Mark Pierce with an 11-yard pass to set up a one-yard scoring run by offensive tackle Shawn Kennedy.

Arkansas had 231 yards of offense in the first half to NMSU's 160.

"Our passing game was good and we found some open areas," Jenkins said. "They have some good people on defense. But we have been throwing the ball well as of late and guys are getting open." The Aggies play their final game of the season Nov. 25 at home against North Texas in a nationally televised game at 5 p.m. The game will be shown on ESPN2.


Aggie Alert Top Stories