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RECAP: Arkansas Runs Through Auburn, Sanders Breaks 1,000 Yards

NCAA Football: Arkansas at Auburn John Reed-USA TODAY Sports

Sam Pittman again hoped for a fast start by receiving the opening kickoff and, again, he was disappointed.

The first two offensive series—a 3 and out and a fumble—stunted any hope for a fast start. Fortunately, the defense came in clutch. Despite giving Auburn great field position after a bad punt and the fumble, the Hogs only gave up 3 points. Feeding off the defense’s success, the offense then executed an 8 play, 75 yard drive for a touchdown, bringing the score to 7-3 Arkansas.

After the defense forced an Auburn punt, the offense would start the 2nd quarter with the ball and score again on a KJ Jefferson 13 yard scramble. After another forced punt, the offense would then go on a technical 3 and out, although Arkansas penalties would force more than 3 plays.

Auburn then went on a scoring drive marked by two huge runs by Robby Ashford (24/33, 285 yards passing, 1 TD, and 87 yards rushing) and Tank Bigsby (11 carries for 63 yard and 1 touchdown and 6 Rec. for 37 yards), respectfully. The Arkansas offense would then respond with a 55 yard bomb to Matt Landers. The offense, unfortunately, couldn’t punch it in for a touchdown and had to settle for a field goal. The Hogs and Tigers then traded punts until Auburn’s last drive where they scored a field goal with 3 seconds left in the half.

The Hogs went into the break up 17-13 with only 70 yards on the ground but had a healthy 175 yards through the air on 11 catches. Auburn on the other hand ran all over the Arkansas defense with 144 yards on 23 carries. Granted, half of that total was gained on the two huge runs by Ashford and Bigsby.

Auburn opened up the second half with what looked like a very promising drive for the Tigers, but a sack by Jordan Domineck led to a blocked field goal attempt. The offense answered with a 9 play, 64 yard touchdown drive, and finished with a 12 yard strike to Jadon Haselwood.

The defense would force 2 more punts, giving Arkansas the ball at their own 6 and 16 yard lines, respectfully, and Arkansas would score after both. On the first drive Raheim Sanders would again remind us why his nickname is Rocket. Sanders blew pastthe Tigers defense on a McFadden-Esque, 76 yard rush that ushered in a 2 yard Touchdown on a direct snap to Rashod Dubinion, bringing the score to 31-13. Then next was a 10 play, 84 yard march that ended with another Dubinion touchdown. Hogs up 38-13.

Auburn finally responded with a 7 play, 75 yard drive consisting of two acrobatic catches by Ja’Varrius Johnson (3 Rec. 64 yards)and Camden Brown (4 Rec. 83 yards and 1 touchdown). After Arkansas scored another field goal, Auburn would score one more touchdown, but the effort will come too little, too late, as Arkansas milked the clock down to 1:55 on the previous possession.

Final score 41-27

Arkansas’s defense allowed 183 rushing yards and 285 passing for 468 total yards. While statistically this looks like another poor performance from Arkansas’s defense, most of the damage came in garbage time in the 4th quarter. Through the first 3 quarters the defense only allowed 13 points and forced Auburn to punt 4 times and try for a field goal 4 times(1 missed FG and one Blocked). When asked about how the Razorbacks broke Auburn’s momentum going into the second half Sam Pittman responded, “well, our defense stepped up…I challenged them at halftime.”

The defense looked its best since week 3 vs South Carolina. Itwas certainly the healthiest the defense has been since week 3. The defense returned 3 players in the secondary this week: Myles Slusher, Jayden Johnson, and Khari Johnson. Malik Chavis is still dealing with concussion symptoms, so he did not make the trip.

The Defense was also very balanced. Seven players had at least 4 solo tackles. Latavious Brini led the Hogs with 7 solo tackles and 2 TFLs. Dwight McGlothern also had 7 solo tackles.

The Hogs offense started slow, again, but that didn’t stop them from running all over Auburn, literally. Arkansas rushed for 286 yard and 4 touchdowns. What’s more absurd is that 216 yards of that total were gained in the second half! “I think we wore them down, to be honest,” said Pittman when asked about the 2nd half rushing success, but if you ask Sanders he said jokingly, “it was my cleats, I changed my cleats.”

Whether Arkansas wore them down or Rocket forgot to put on his magic cleats, it’s clear after this game that any conversation about the best running back in the country has to include Sanders. Rocket had 16 carries for 171 yards. That is two weeks in a row that he has averaged over 10 yards a carry. Sanders also reached over 1,000 yards during his 76 yard rush. At 8 games, that’s the quickest a Razorback has gained over 1,000 yards since Madre Hill, even faster than the man himself, Darren McFadden.

KJ Jefferson and Rashod Dubinion had good games on the ground, too. Each one with 2 touchdowns

In addition to the run game, the Hogs threw the ball well. KJ Jefferson was 16/24 for 234 yards and one touchdown. Matt Landers led the wideouts with 4 receptions for 115 yards. Which is two 100 yard games in a row for Landers (he had 99 at BYU, that’s close enough). The chemistry between Landers and Jefferson seems to be taking off. “[I] just try to get him into a rhythm early, let him get a feel for the game, and I know I can go to [Landers] in those situations,” said Jefferson when asked about Landers.

Jaden Haselwood had a good game with 5 receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown.

“It means everything.”

When asked about winning in Jordan-Hare for the first time in 10 years this was the response Sam Pittman gave the media. This win marks the end of a 6 game losing streak to Auburn, an end to a 3 SEC game losing streak this season, and with the win over Auburn, Sam Pittman has only one SEC west left to beat, Alabama.

The win also gives the Razorbacks a chance to become bowl eligible on November 5th at 3:00cst against Liberty. A team led by former SEC head coach Hugh Freeze who blew out BYU at home and whose only loss is to a very good Wake Forrest team by one point.