Arkansas rallies past Vanderbilt, 49-14

FAYETTEVILLE-- Ryan Mallett passed for a career high 409 yards and 3 touchdowns to rally the Arkansas Razorbacks past Vanderbilt, 49-14. Vanderbilt took a 14-6 lead in the first quarter but a 26-point Razorback second quarter doomed the visitors in black and gold. The 14 first quarter points were the most scored in that quarter by the Commodores all season.

"We tried just about everything we had and just shot ourselves in the foot," said Vanderbilt head coach Robbie Caldwell. "We dropped balls and fumbled and we ran an unbalanced line three times in a row and it parted like the red sea."

Vanderbilt got off to a great start scoring two touchdowns, making seven first downs, and gaining 130 yards in the first quarter. However, after the initial quarter the rest of the way the Commodores would only manage 26 yards, one first down and no points.

Mallett picked apart the Commodore defense throughout the game. His 2-yard pass to D.J. Williams would have tied the score at seven but botched snap resulted no attempt and left Vandy in front, 7-6. After a second Commodore score, Knile Davis' 2-yard run with 13:25 left in the second quarter pulled the home team their within one at 14-13.

Vanderbilt's Jared Funk, who had been inserted in the game in place of a healthy Larry Smith, had a pass intercepted and returned to the Commodore 20. The Hogs needed only four plays to get their first lead of the game. Mallett found Jarius Wright for a 15-yard scoring pass to make the score 20-14 Arkansas with 11:20 remaining in the half.

There was plenty of time left for the Hogs to add more points. Minutes later Larry Smith was sacked in the end zone for a safety to build the Razorback lead to 22-14. After the free kick was returned deep into Commodore territory, Mallet found Wright for his second 15-yard scoring pass of the quarter. Zach Hocker's 26-yard field goal ended the Razorback second quarter onslaught and made the halftime score Arkansas 32, Vanderbilt 14.

In the second half although the Commodore defense was able to make some stops, the Razorback defense continued to stifle the Vanderbilt offense. Zach Hocker connected on his second field goal of the game, this time from 27 yards, to put the Hogs up 35-14 with 6:08 to go in the third quarter. Early in the fourth quarter Knile Davis' easy 2-yard run made the Commodore deficit seemingly insurmountable at 28 points.

Things got even uglier when the Commodores decided to again make a switch at quarterback after Larry Smith had returned to the game. Jerico Nelson jumped on a Funk pass, intercepting it and returning it 39 yards for another Razorback touchdown. Trailing 49-14 Vanderbilt could still muster very little offense. The Commodores had a golden opportunity to add another score after a Richard Kent punt pinned the Razorbacks at their own 1. Vanderbilt forced the Hogs to punt and then got great field position at the Arkansas 38. Vandy drove to the Arkansas 29 but on fourth-and-1 a Larry Smith pass fell badly off its mark.

In a sparkling drive that took only three plays and a minute and 38 seconds, the Commodores had gotten on the board by marching down the field and taking an early lead with a 21-yard Jonathan Krause end around run. Vandy then utilized the pass to pickup their second touchdown of the first quarter. Smith found Brandon Barden from eight yards out to put Vandy up, 14-6. The two first quarter touchdowns doubled the Commodores combined first quarter scoring for the season (28 points).

Vanderbilt has now lost two straight games in which it scored first. Vanderbilt previously had beaten both Ole Miss and Eastern Michigan when scoring first. The safety by Arkansas was the third safety scored on Vandy this season.

Defensive ends Johnell Thomas and Tim Fugger went down to undisclosed injuries. Fugger was seen walking into the tunnel during the first quarter with members of the Commodore training staff.

Arkansas gained 555 yards of total offense compared to Vandy's 153. Warren Norman led the Commodores with 64 yards rushing and had a 51-yard run in the first quarter. Barden led the Vandy receivers with two catches for 20 yards. Smith finished with 4-of12 completions for 25 yards and a touchdown. Chris Marve led the Vandy defense with 10 tackles and ½ sack. Sean Richardson broke up three passes.

Vanderbilt falls to 2-6 (1-4 SEC) while Arkansas improves to 6-2 (3-2 SEC). The Commodores trail in the all-time series 2-6. Next week Vandy hosts Florida while Arkansas will visit South Carolina.

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