Like most Arkansas fans, at the beginning of the season I made the fair assumption that our coaching staff would have our team ready to play against Conference USA opponent Western Kentucky. Well, you know what they say when you make assumptions and I am wiping the egg off of my face today.
The Hilltoppers won the toss, deferring to the 2nd half and allowing Arkansas to receive the first half kickoff. Arkansas moved the ball well with a mix of Rakeem Boyd runs and a John Stephen Jones completion to Mike Woods. Unfortunately, JSJ’s next attempt was intercepted by a diving Antwon Kincade. 9 plays later, The Hilltoppers were in the end zone on a 19 yard Jacquez Sloan scamper.
Arkansas answered right back on a 76 yard run by Rakeem Boyd the following drive. Boyd showed incredible burst and speed to completely gash the Hilltopper defense and it looked like we had found our groove on the ground early.
Ty Storey, however, had different ideas on how the game would go. He lead his team on 12 play, 75 yard drive, punching the ball in himself to take the Hilltoppers up 14 - 7.
This is how the rest of the first half went:
- Arkansas - Punt (3 & Out)
- Western Kentucky - Touchdown (Ty Storey 1 yd run)
- Arkansas - Punt (3 and Out)
- Western Kentucky - Touchdown (Ty Storey 69 yd pass to Jahcour Pearson)
- Arkansas - Punt (5 plays for 8 yards)
- Western Kentucky - Touchdown (Gaej Walker 1 yd TD run)
Western Kentucky moved the ball at will. They showed absolutely no respect to the Arkansas defense, going for, and converting, every 4th down they had during the half. It was 35-7 as the teams headed to the locker room, with the game already pretty much sealed for Western Kentucky.
The Hogs opened the 2nd half by forcing Western Kentucky to punt for the FIRST TIME which was met with raucous applause. Unfortunately, the offense couldn’t get anything going, going 3 and out again, giving the ball right back to the Hilltoppers. Ty Storey promptly lead his team to the Arkansas 1 yard line. The Hogs defense held, allowing only a field goal.
Arkansas looked like it had found a spark when KJ Jefferson found Treylon Burkes in the back of the end zone on a beautiful catch and throw by the Freshman teammates. Unfortunately, the play was negated by a brutal holding penalty and Arkansas would eventually turn the ball over on downs.
After the defense forced another punt, Boyd found another seam and hit the gas for an 86 yard home run score. A flag on the field had Arkansas fans ready for more heartbreak, but luckily it was picked up and the play stood.
The defense once again forced the Hilltoppers to punt. On the ensuing possession KJ Jefferson’s pass bounced off Treylon Burks hands into the waiting arms of Devon Key who took it 26 yards for the pick 6, hammering home the final nail in the coffin.
KJ Jefferson found the end zone on Arkansas’ next possession, adding a nice TD to his stat line but doing little to effect the outcome of the game and by the time he crossed the goal line, most of the already frustrated crowd had left the stadium. Still, he moved the ball nicely and was able to pick up some points.
Arkansas recovered a Joshua Samuel fumble on the ensuing Western Kentucky and the offense got a few plays off before the game was over.
The Hogs get a bye this week before wrapping up the season at LSU and vs Mizzou in Little Rock. It’s going to get ugly.