LITTLE ROCK – The Arkansas offense scored early and often en route to a 44-10 win over Mississippi State in the final home game of the season at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock Saturday.
A crowd of 55,712 witnessed running back Darren McFadden become the first Arkansas freshman to rush for 1,000 yards in a season and just the seventh Razorback in school history to accomplish the feat. He finished the day with 165 yards rushing and two touchdowns against the Bulldogs.
The Arkansas offense appeared to pick up where it left off against Ole Miss in the first quarter. On the opening drive of the game, freshman quarterback Casey Dick completed third down passes to Marcus Monk and Peyton Hillis to move the chains. McFadden then capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run to give the Hogs an early 7-0 advantage.
Midway through the first quarter, Mississippi State quarterback Micheal Henig fumbled the ball under pressure from a swarm of Razorback defensemen. Marcus Harrison picked up the lose football for the Razorbacks and rumbled 25 yards to the 44-yard line.
Seven plays later, McFadden set a new freshman record for touchdowns in a season when he took a pitch up the sideline 21 yards, carrying defenders with him into the end zone for his 10th score of the season. Arkansas led 14-0 with 4:35 remaining in the first quarter.
Arkansas added to its lead on the second play of the second quarter with a 23-yard Chris Balseiro field goal. The Razorback defense forced another turnover on Mississippi State’s next play from scrimmage. Jamal Anderson sacked Henig, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Keith Jackson on the Bulldogs 12-yard line. Balseiro connected on another field goal to push the lead to 20-0.
Arkansas put together an impressive 12-play drive on its next possession. Dick hit Hillis on a swing pass for a 15-yard touchdown, making it 27-0 with 5:15 remaining in the second quarter.
Mississippi State tallied its first down of the game on its next drive when running back Jerious Norwood broke loose for a 53-yard gain. The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard with an Adam Carlson field goal to make the score 27-3 with 3:35 left in the half.
But the Razorbacks put the game away for good when Felix Jones took the ensuing kickoff from the goal line and returned it 100 yards for a touchdown. Jones became the seventh Razorback to record a 100-yard touchdown and the first since Madre Hill in 1994.
After a Mississippi State punt, Arkansas got the ball back with just over a minute to play in the half. Dick found Monk in the back corner of the end zone with only 11 seconds remaining to push the lead to 41-3 at the break. Dick completed 12-of-23 passes with two touchdowns and two interceptions in his third start as a Razorback.
The Arkansas defense held Mississippi State (2-8, 0-7 SEC) to 44 yards of total offense in the first half. The Hogs pass rush kept pressure on the quarterback all day. The Bulldogs tallied negative-eight-yards passing in the first half and sacked the Mississippi State signal caller six times in the game. Jamaal Anderson and Keith Jackson led the way with six tackles each.
Midway through the fourth quarter McFadden found daylight for a 64-yard run to the Mississippi State seven-yard line. That pushed him over the 1,000-yard mark for the season, making him the first freshman, and the seventh player in Arkansas history to record 1,000 yards rushing in a season. Chris Balseiro converted his third field goal of the game to reach the final margin 44-10
Arkansas (4-6, 2-5 SEC) will travel to Baton Rouge, La., for its final game of the season Friday. The bout with the LSU Tigers will be televised on CBS and kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m.