LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – After the first play from scrimmage, it looked like Arkansas would be in for a battle against Louisiana-Monroe, but a couple of special teams mistakes by the Warhawks quickly sent momentum to the No. 13 Razorbacks as they posted a 44-10 victory in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
ULM’s punting unit cost the Warhawks 14 points while Arkansas’ punt team set up a safety for the Razorbacks, which led to another Hog touchdown.
The win is the seventh straight for Arkansas, which improved to 7-1 and is leading the Southeastern Conference’s Western Division at 4-0. The winning streak is the longest for Arkansas since head coach Houston Nutt’s first season in 1998 when the Hogs began the year 8-0.
ULM dropped its seventh straight to fall to 1-7.
The victory, in front of a crowd of 55,420, also improved Arkansas to 20-1 in Little Rock since 1998. UA also improved to 26-3 under head coach Houston Nutt in regular-season non-conference games. The win is also the 100th for Nutt in 14 years as a head coach with 64 of those at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks have scored 145 points in their last three games, which is the most over a three-game span since 1970 and the fifth-best total in school history.
On the game’s first play, ULM running back Calvin Dawson broke through the middle of the line for a 66-yard gain to the Arkansas 14. Receiver J.J. McCoy went around the right end for 12 yards to the two on the next play. Following two tackles for loss and a penalty for a false start, quarterback Kinsmon Lancaster lofted a pass to LaGregory Sapp in the right corner of the end zone for a 7-0 lead just more than three minutes into the game.
The touchdown was just the second allowed by UA’s defense in the last 11 quarters.
Quarterback Mitch Mustain was intercepted on Arkansas’ second offensive play, but a sack by UA’s Weston Dacus on third-and-17 forced a ULM punting situation from the Hog 40.
Deep snapper Cody Bauman sailed the ball over the head of punter Kevin Payne. The ball went to the Warhawk 10 for a loss of 50 yards.
Darren McFadden gained three yards on first down with Felix Jones tying the game by getting in from seven yards out around the right corner on second down.
On its next possession, Arkansas drove from its 37 to the ULM 24 with McFadden gaining 35 yards on four carries, but Mustain was picked off again. Cornerback Chaz Williams returned the interception 26 yards to the Warhawk 46.
The defense forced another punting situation, which led to another bad snap. This time, Bauman sent the ball from the UA 49 to the Warhawk 14, a loss of 37 yards.
On third-and-eight at the 12, Mustain hit Marcus Monk at the two. Monk pulled away from a defender and stretched into the end zone for the score.
The Warhawks drove for a potential game-tying score, but Lancaster was intercepted in the end zone by Michael Grant with 10:16 left in the second. The Hogs didn’t score, but Jacob Skinner’s punt from the ULM 37 was downed at the goal line by Chris Houston.
After forcing a punt, the Razorbacks took over at their 45, but following a 16-yard run by McFadden on first down, Louisiana-Monroe held and Skinner punted to the Warhawk two, where the ball was downed by Houston
On first down, Dawson ran to the left where Matt Hewitt brought him down for a safety and a 16-7 lead with 4:12 left in the half. The safety was the first for Arkansas since Clarke Moore recorded a two-pointer for UA against Mississippi State in 2002.
Following the free kick, with Casey Dick at quarterback, McFadden ran for 12 yards and Jones 22 to the Warhawk 23. Dick completed a 14-yard pass to Peyton Hillis to the nine. On first-and-goal, McFadden lined up at quarterback, took the snap and rolled to the left before lofting the first touchdown pass of his career to a wide open Wes Murphy in the end zone, pushing the lead to 23-7 just before halftime.
On the first series of the second half, McFadden carried the ball six times for 51 yards, and pushed the lead to 30-7 on an 18-yard run down the left sideline.
McFadden was finished for the night after the carry, ending the game with 129 yards on 18 carries. He also had the rushing touchdown and one passing score. The rushing score is the 19th of his career, which ties for 12th-best in school history. The 100-yard game is the ninth of his career, which ties for fifth on UA’s charts.
On the next possession, following Grant’s second interception of the game, Jones broke loose for a 58-yard gain to the ULM 12, setting up a touchdown pass from Mustain to Monk. The touchdown was the 18th scoring reception of Monk’s career, which ranks second on Arkansas’ all-time list. The score pushed the lead to 37-7 with 7:19 remaining in the third quarter.
Jones finished with a career-high 141 yards and a touchdown on nine carries.
Grant later made a third interception, which is the most for a Razorback since secondary coach Louis Campbell had three against Tennessee in the 1971 Liberty Bowl.
Michael Smith scored the final touchdown for Arkansas on a three-yard run with 8:07 left, putting UA ahead 44-7
Cole Wilson added a 30-yard field goal for Louisiana-Monroe with 2:26 left for the final margin.
Arkansas finished with 428 yards of total offense for the game, getting 331 yards on 40 rushes.
The defense allowed 261 total yards, including 114 on 38 carries, intercepted five passes and recorded nine tackles for loss, led by end Antwain Robinson’s three for 12 yards. Dacus paced the defense with 10 tackles, including two sacks for 12 yards.
The Razorbacks travel to South Carolina for a 6:45 p.m. nationally televised contest by ESPN on Saturday.