Favorite

Clutch 

It's difficult to categorize the kind of catharsis that Arkansas rightly earned Saturday in its four-overtime, 54-46 win over Auburn, but that's what we'll endeavor to do here.

Obviously, the fable starts with Brandon Allen's emphatic murder of the albatross that's been slung around his neck the past three years. Arkansas bolted out to a 14-0 lead and Allen was on point in the process, firing three accurate darts to Hunter Henry on an opening scoring drive, then finding Jeremy Sprinkle on a nifty tight end throwback for the second touchdown. Dominique Reed also got heavily involved in the offense, a development that couldn't be more timely given the Hogs' general dearth of perimeter speed with Keon Hatcher and Jared Cornelius still at least a week away from returning.

Thereafter, against all discernible logic, Dan Enos' derring-do went astray for a while, Allen got pressured into a bad toss midway through the second quarter that ended up as the game's only turnover, and Auburn went 96 yards off that mistake, then ground out another long drive to start the third quarter and tie the game.

Allen was unflappable, though. Twice after halftime he engineered go-ahead scoring drives, the first coming after a horrifying neck injury to Rawleigh Williams III sent the stout freshman tailback off the field on a cart. The Hogs were torched for a quick score in the first overtime period, but Allen coolly took the field and completed a third-and-8 strike to Henry for 10, then found Drew Morgan with a dart on a fourth-and-3 drag route to keep Arkansas alive. In the next overtime period, Allen picked up 11 yards on a receiver throwback from Damon Mitchell, and in the third extra frame he fired another short-range rocket to Jeremy Sprinkle for a resuscitating two-point conversion. It was that play that truly stirred the Hog crowd into believing that this wasn't going to end up another late-game faltering, and Allen and Morgan validated that faith immediately with a 25-yard screen play that ended with Morgan sailing horizontally past the pylon.

The senior quarterback dropped in a nifty conversion toss to Kody Walker to set the final margin — the Hog defense held firm for a game-ending three-and-out — and was appropriately photographed during the postgame euphoria flashing visage that reflected vindication. His fourth quarter and overtime ledger read like something out of an inspirational sports novella: He hit 10 of his 14 passes, two for touchdowns, and completed the aforesaid two-point conversion passes. Arkansas's official social media feeds posted the pic and those daunting numbers shortly after proceedings ended, and astutely, if even defiantly, summarized the effort with one word: "Clutch."

The backdrop was fitting. Arkansas had inarguably its three best SEC outings last year in Fayetteville in rainy, cool conditions, losing narrowly to Alabama and then blasting LSU and Ole Miss on consecutive Saturdays in November. Whereas the projected downpour didn't happen, it was still a grayish day in the Ozarks, and that seems to be the proper climate for Arkansas to employ its grinding style. Auburn's defense, yet again, is flush with athletes but bereft of big-play swagger, and the Hogs exposed and exploited that to the tune of 213 rushing yards, outgaining the Tigers by 51 yards on three less carries in that category. Quarterback Sean White, meanwhile, suffered through the indignity of catastrophic drops by his receivers all day, sabotaging an otherwise fine effort in only his fourth start. Auburn is now reeling harder than the Hogs were, assigned to last place in a vicious division after losing six of its last seven in league play, while the Razorbacks (a modest 3-4, 2-2) have emerged from the West cellar for the first time under Bret Bielema's tutelage. A three-year conference mark of 4-16 is garish at first glance, to be sure, but all four of those wins came after the polarizing coach dropped his first 13 SEC decisions. And now, in the aftermath of a bitter-pill defeat against Texas A&M, the Hogs have won a nip-and-tuck road game at Tennessee and vanquished a division foe in the longest college game all season. Those kinds of conquests are not plentiful for any team in this league; winning close is something of a lost art, and maybe it's one that Arkansas has rediscovered.

The Hogs should be able to have a fine encore for homecoming. Tennessee-Martin is a fair Ohio Valley Conference squad, but the Skyhawks were abused by Ole Miss 76-3 in the season opener and don't figure to have enough hands on deck to pose anything beyond a first-quarter threat to the Razorbacks. A win squares up the Hogs' overall record at 4-4 en route to November, and the likelihood of Hatcher and Cornelius returning means that Arkansas can enter the last month with many of its once-dashed dreams being reborn anew.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

  • The end is near

    October 12, 2017
    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action. /more/
  • On to TCU

    September 7, 2017
    This opener was never endangered by weather, never in doubt on the scoreboard, and never remotely interesting. But it happened, Arkansas is 1-0 (unlike Baylor, UNLV and — chortle — Texas A&M), and the Hogs lost very little against hapless Florida A&M in a 49-7 walloping that may have been a sendoff to War Memorial Stadium. /more/
  • Game on

    August 31, 2017
    This entire opening game preview, I suppose, has a giant asterisk accompanying it. If the havoc that Harvey wrought upon Texas makes its way nor'easterly, then the Arkansas season debut Thursday night in Little Rock may be in jeopardy, and I suspect would not be rescheduled if such a cancellation came to pass. Arkansas may need that presumably easy win for bowl consideration later, but let's presume for the moment the Hogs do get to take on Florida A&M at War Memorial Stadium. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 3

    August 17, 2017
    Halfway through the Hogs' 2017 football season, which now will undoubtedly be played out in the memory of J. Frank Broyles, Pearls has the team sitting at 4-2, 1-2 after back-to-back road defeats against South Carolina and Alabama. /more/
  • Awwwwww. Big Bret Bielema shows off his little baby daughter

    August 9, 2017
    Razorback Coach Bret Bielema brought his month-old daughter Briella to his news conference this morning and cuteness ensued. /more/
  • Arkansas Razorback 2017 football review, part 1

    August 3, 2017
    By the time you read this, Arkansas will have put in about a week's worth of gridiron prep for a 2017 season that has such an odd feel, what with the deflating close of 2016 a distant but still germane development and the cast of skill and special teams players looking substantially different. /more/
  • Five big questions for Arkansas football

    July 20, 2017
    Among them: Can Austin Allen get a better handle on the job and rein in his emotions? /more/
  • Summer hopes

    June 22, 2017
    Bret Bielema is not, regardless of your possible venom toward him or the catastrophic way the 2016 season wrapped, going anywhere. /more/
  • Changes needed

    January 5, 2017
    Those who have read this column with some degree of regularity know that I've held fast to the belief that Bret Bielema can and will revive the Arkansas football program. /more/
  • Hogs' Jeremy Sprinkle suspended from Belk Bowl; cited for concealing items at department store

    December 29, 2016
    Razorback tight end Jeremy Sprinkle was suspended hours before the Hogs Belk Bowl game with Virginia Tech. The school didn't specify the reason, but SEC Country reports it was for trying to take unpurchased items from a Belk Department Store after a $450 shopping spree for players. /more/
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Beau Wilcox

  • The end is near

    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • A win, finally

    Given all upheaval, foreign and domestic, Arkansas beating New Mexico State by a comfortable, if unremarkable, 42-24 margin on Saturday genuinely meant a hell of a lot.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • Agony vs. Aggies

    You watched Austin Allen fire that third-down pass into a "window" that was more like a keyhole, and you knew, didn't you?
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Most Shared

Latest in Pearls About Swine

  • The end is near

    It has fast become gospel around here that if Bielema's staring at a smaller number on the scoreboard as he saunters into the locker room at the midway point of a game, there's no credible reason for Arkansas to take the field for the last 30 minutes of action.
    • Oct 12, 2017
  • A win, finally

    Given all upheaval, foreign and domestic, Arkansas beating New Mexico State by a comfortable, if unremarkable, 42-24 margin on Saturday genuinely meant a hell of a lot.
    • Oct 5, 2017
  • Agony vs. Aggies

    You watched Austin Allen fire that third-down pass into a "window" that was more like a keyhole, and you knew, didn't you?
    • Sep 28, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

October

S M T W T F S
1 2 3 4 5 6 7
8 9 10 11 12 13 14
15 16 17 18 19 20 21
22 23 24 25 26 27 28
29 30 31  

Most Recent Comments

 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation