LITTLE ROCK — Ryan Mallett guided the Arkansas Razorbacks to another offensive explosion, racking up five touchdown passes in a 42-21 beating of Mississippi State in the final home game of the season.
The victory at War Memorial Stadium moved Arkansas to 7-4 overall and 3-4 in Southeastern Conference Western Division play. The loss ended Miss State’s bowl chances by dropping the Bulldogs to 4-7 on the season, 2-5 in the SEC West.
The sophomore became the first Razorback in the 100-plus year history of football to throw for over 3,000 yards in a single season.
Another day of records for Mallett, who after only 11 games at Arkansas now owns or has a part of 12 different Razorback records.
Against MSU, Mallett tied his own school record with five touchdown passes. Twice he went for 50-yard plus passes to freshman Cobi Hamilton who led the Razorbacks with 131 yards receiving.
He closed with 18 of 34 for 313 yards and his five touchdowns.
With the regular season finale at Baton Rouge against LSU and a bowl game invitation left, Mallett could extend his early career domination of the Razorback passing records.
Giving up 21 unanswered points to Arkansas in the first half, Miss State changed quarterbacks and styles to begin the second half. The change turned what looked to be a runaway into an interesting and competitive third quarter.
Employing what looked like a close formation wishbone of the glory days of War Memorial Stadium, Chris Relf directed an 11-play, 94-yard drive exclusively on the ground. Anthony Dixon broke over 100 yards for the game with the 4-yard touchdown run to cut Arkansas’ lead to seven, 21-14, with just over nine minutes left in the third quarter.
Mallett wasted no time breaking Miss State’s momentum and a pair of Stoerner’s records on the first possession of the second half. Mallett found Cobi Hamilton cutting under the State coverage. Four downfield receiver blocks and four evaded or broken tackles by Hamilton later, Mallett had his 30th career touchdown responsible and 27th career touchdown pass on the 64-yard effort.
Dixon matched Mallett on the next play, taking the handoff from Relf, bounding off two Razorbacks before breaking into the open for the 70-yard touchdown to return the margin to seven, 28-21.
For the day, Dixon finished with 24 carries for 176 yards, but after his touchdown run was neutralized by Arkansas’ defensive adjustments.
Arkasnsas put the score back to two TDs with a six-play, 50-yard drive, moved along by a pair of D.J. Williams first down receptions. Mallett evaded two Bulldog rushers, and throwing off his back foot on the run to Greg Childs for the back of the end zone made it 35-21. It was Mallett’s fifth TD pass, tying his own Arkansas record.
Arkansas defense dug in against the Bulldogs, changing their approach to shut down State with two three-and-outs and no more scoring after the Dixon breakaway.
Following State’s last ditch drive ending on downs, Arkansas marched up field for its only rushing touchdown of the game, a two-yarder from Broderick Green and the final margin of 42-21.
After the opening kickoff, it didn’t look like the smooth offensive game it became for the Razorbacks. Arkansas’ offense started rough with a pass batted down by Miss State on first down, then an interception by Corey Broomfield to give the Bulldogs the ball on their own 48 yard line.
Chad Bumphis picks the deep snap up off the ground as MSU went into a Wildcat formation. The miscue didn’t limit the freshman “H” backs’ run as he hit the right corner and turned up field through a large hole Rudell Crim saved the touchdown by pushing him out of bounds 49 yards later. Arnil Stallworth took it the last yard for the score and a 7-0 lead.
Arkansas came right back with a four-play TD drive of its own, set up by a 31-yard kickoff return by Johnson. Mallett got his passing back on stride with a 21 yard first-down pass to Jarius Wright to put Arkansas into MSU territory. Mallett first tried to go to the endzone first for Crawford, broken up by Marcus Washington, then found a wide open Joe Adams at the five yard line. The Little Rock sophomore broke two tackles for the 39-yard touchdown.
The teams traded punts for the next four possessions before the first of a pair of record-tying touchdown passes by Mallett.
Mallett stepped back and lofted the ball deep, a good 45 yards in the air to the State 10 yard line where Hamilton took it over the shoulder in full stride. The 59-yard the strike tied Mallett with Stoerner for most touchdowns responsible for in a single season with his 29th. The four-play, 68-yard drive gave Arkansas its first lead of the game, 14-7.
Arkansas kept the scoring streak going on its next possession. State went three-and-out to punt to the Razorback 21 yard line. Using 11 plays to move up field on the longest drive — distance or time — of the half for either team, Mallett capped it off by hitting a wide open Wright for a five-yard score. This touchdown tied Mallett with Stoerner for most touchdown passes in a season.
On the day, Arkansas racked up 396 total yards with 22 first downs and considerable balance. Johnson closed with 11 carries for 40 yards while Green had nine carries for 25 yards and a touchdown. They led a rushing game that produced 83 total yards.
State finished with a considerable amount of yards, 376 off 68 plays, but very little points.