Hogs run wild vs. Vols

Tennessee's first objective Saturday night against Arkansas was to contain Razorback running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones. If the Volunteers failed in that endeavor, nothing else would matter.

Well, the Volunteers failed miserably in that endeavor and, sure enough, nothing else mattered.

McFadden rushed 30 times for 181 yards and Jones chipped in 13 carries for 72 yards as the 11th-ranked Razorbacks routed the 13th-rated Vols 31-14.

"We got our butts handed to us in the first half," UT head coach Phillip Fulmer said, pretty much summarizing 60 minutes of beat-down in eleven words.

The Vols (7-3 overall, 3-3 SEC) have now lost two games in a row. They fell 28-24 to LSU last weekend at Knoxville in a game that was at least competitive. The same could not be said for Saturday night's game at Fayetteville.

"I take responsibility for this," Fulmer said on his post-game radio show. "I don't think we came out ready to play, as emotional as we needed to play.... Certainly, we have some limitations with a young quarterback and some things but I think the lingering after-effects of the LSU game were still out there.

"That's my responsibility – to get 'em back up – and I didn't get that done."

Arkansas (9-1, 6-0) has won nine games in a row. Probably none was any more impressive than its dominating performance against the Big Orange.

The Hogs outrushed Tennessee 259 yards to 92 and nearly matched the Vols in passing yards (166 to 174), despite throwing just 16 times to UT's 34. Arkansas finished with 425 yards of total offense to Tennessee's 266. The Vols had just 174 total yards until they launched a 92-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes against Razorback reserves.

Redshirt freshman quarterback Jonathan Crompton started in place of injured Erik Ainge and went the distance. Crompton completed 16 of 34 passes for 174 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in a performance Fulmer described as "just OK."

Arkansas gashed Tennessee's troubled run defense in the first half, and made it look easy. The Hogs went 53 yards in eight plays on their second possession, getting the touchdown on a pass from Casey Dick to 6-foot-6 Marcus Monk on third-and-goal from the 10.

Arkansas then scored TDs on all three second-quarter possessions, as McFadden and Jones literally ran "hog wild" against the Vol defense.

The first touchdown came on a six-play, 72-yard drive that featured a 29-yard burst by Jones and ended with a 17-yard direct-snap keeper by McFadden.

Tennessee answered with a seven-play, 80-yard drive, scoring when Crompton found Robert Meachem with a 27-yard strike on third-and-17.

Arkansas quickly regained the momentum, however, driving 82 yards in seven plays to go up 21-7. Again taking the direct snap from center, McFadden kept for gains of nine and 10 yards, then lobbed a 12-yard TD pass to Monk.

After a three-and-out by Tennessee, the Razorbacks were at again, going 69 yards in five plays. McFadden had a 37-yard ramble on the second play of the drive, then got the TD three plays later on a five-yard direct-snap keeper.

Already ahead 28-7, Arkansas threatened to turn the game into a runaway by driving to a first-and-goal at the 6-yard line on its first possession of the second half. McFadden was stripped by Vol linebacker Marvin Mitchell, however, and UT recovered at its 2-yard line.

After a scoreless third quarter, Crompton threw a pass that was intercepted by Kevin Woods and returned 23 yards to the Vol 16-yard line. Tennessee's defense held, however, and the Hogs settled for a 29-yard Jeremy Davis field goal that widened the gap to 31-7.

That's where the score stayed until the final minutes, when Crompton completed three of four passes for 66 yards to fuel a seven-play, 92-yard drive capped by a 39-yard TD pass to Bret Smith with 30 seconds left.

Ultimately, it was way too little ... way too late.

"The thing that bothered us the most was the tailback (McFadden) playing quarterback," Fulmer said. "They ran basically the same plays (as with Dick at QB) but ended up with an extra blocker."

The Vol coach said Tennessee's linebackers were "terribly out of position" at times but "after the half we got it fixed and held 'em to three points."

Ultimately, that was little consolation for a Big Orange defense that was riddled by Monk (8 catches for 137 yards and two touchdowns), as well as the Razorbacks' vaunted ground attack.

"We didn't play the ball when it was in the air on third down," Fulmer said on his post-game show, "and we didn't tackle No. 5 (McFadden) very well."

The Vols will try to bounce back Saturday at Vanderbilt. Kickoff is set for 11:30 Central time in Nashville.

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