Hogs Earn Final Minute Victory over Rebels
BY ANDRES FOCIL
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – Sophomore tailback Cedric Cobbs scored on a one-yard run with 18 seconds remaining to lead the Arkansas Razorbacks to a 14-10 victory over Nevada-Las Vegas in front of 52,213 fans and a national ESPN audience on Thursday night at War Memorial Stadium.
Arkansas (1-0) upped its record to 10-0 in Little Rock under head coach Houston Nutt with the win over UNLV (0-1). In a defensive struggle, UA earned 49 of its 114 total yards on its final drive. With 1:53 to play, the Razorbacks had just 65 yards of offense and had played four different quarterbacks.
A fumbled punt snap by UNLV’s Ryan McDonald gave the Hogs possession at midfield. Sophomore Ryan Sorahan, the second quarterback to get in the game, was called on for the final drive.
Following two incompletions and a five-yard run by Brandon Holmes, Sorahan hit Steven Harris for a seven-yard gain on fourth down. After three more incompletions, he found Sam Breeden for 13 yards to the UNLV 24. On second and 10, he connected with Richard Smith who spun away from one tackler and was knocked down at the Vegas one. Cobbs scored around right end on first down.
“I’ve never had a finish like that,” Nutt said. “I’ve never been so proud of a defense. Their effort was phenomenal. Most of the players on defense were out there on almost every play. Lawrence Richardson, Ken Hamlin and Batman (Ahmad Carroll) are big-time players.”
Prior to the last drive, Richardson was UA’s sole offense, scoring on a 45-yard interception return to get the Razorbacks within 10-7 with 11:58 to play in the third period. Hamlin also had an interception, to go with nine tackles and a fumble recovery. Sophomore linebacker Caleb Miller had a career-high 12 stops and an interception.
The Rebels’ Jason Thomas, who is being touted as a Heisman Trophy candidate, was 4 of 16 for 40 yards with the three picks. He had 12 rushes for 103 yards.
Sorahan finished 7 of 16 for 62 yards with one interception. Starter Zak Clark was 5 of 15 for 27 yards. Freshman Tavaris Jackson was 0 of 1 and the fourth quarterback for the Hogs, Gerald Howard, lost nine yards on two option carries.
Arkansas, which has won five straight season openers and avenged last year’s 31-14 loss to the Rebels in the Las Vegas Bowl, had just five first downs with four coming on the final possession.
“Our defense dominated up to that point, just like theirs did,” UNLV head coach John Robinson said. “Their offense played on that last series, but it’s a very disappointing loss.”
The Rebels took a 3-0 first-quarter lead on a 27-yard field goal by Dillon Pieffer and extended the lead to 10-0 in the second quarter on a six-yard pass from Thomas to Jabari Johnson. Pieffer could have extended Vegas’ lead but missed 29-yard field goal attempts with 1:29 to play in the third quarter and 11:44 to go in the fourth.
UNLV had 298 yards of offense and was led by Joe Haro who had 131 yards on 24 carries.
Cobbs was UA’s top rusher with 29 yards on 13 rushes. Smith finished with five receptions for 47 yards. UA opens the Fayetteville portion of its home schedule on Sept. 8 when Tennessee visits for the first game in newly expanded and renovated Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
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