FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Felix Jones got up on the right side of bed early Saturday and he got Arkansas up on Ole Miss as the No. 15 Razorbacks won their sixth straight, 38-3.
With an 11:30 a.m. start, some of the 73,445 were still filing into Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium when Jones returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown.
Jones, an All-American kick returner as a freshman last year when he finished second in the nation with a 31.9-yard average, also had a 100-yarder last year against Mississippi State.
Arkansas has had eight 100-yard returns in history and Jones is the second Razorback to do so twice. Boyd Cypert had a pair in 1911.
Jones, who entered the game averaging 17.8 yards per return, kick-started the Hogs to their sixth straight win, which is their longest winning streak since the 2002 club won six straight late in the season.
The win improves Arkansas to 6-1 overall and 4-0 in the Southeastern Conference, UA’s best conference start since the 1998 squad started 5-0. The win also makes Arkansas bowl-eligible for the first time in three years, but for the seventh time in head coach Houston Nutt’s nine seasons.
After Jones’ return, the UA defense forced a three-and-out and the Hogs went up 14-0 on Darren McFadden’s four-yard run. Taking over on its 43, Jones had runs of 11, six and five yards, and McFadden carries of 17, six and the four-yard score. McFadden also had a 15-yard reception from Mitch Mustain.
On the touchdown, McFadden lined as the quarterback in the shotgun with Mustain split wide right. McFadden took the snap and ran up the middle for the score.
The Razorbacks led 14-0 after the first quarter, marking the fifth time in seven games the UA defense held its opponent scoreless in the opening period.
It was 21-0 midway through the second when Peyton Hillis dove over the line from a yard out. The score capped a 57-yard drive including two receptions by Hillis for 17 yards and another carry for six yards. Marcus Monk set up the score with a 15-yard catch to the one.
Mustain, who was 12-of-15 passing for 157 yards and a touchdown for the game, was three-for-three for 32 yards on the drive.
McFadden, the SEC’s leading rusher coming in with 104.2 yards per game, had 65 yards and the touchdown on 17 carries. Jones finished with 51 yards on nine carries.
Hillis was the top receiver with six catches for 43 yards.
For the game, UA had 346 yards of offense, including 141 rushing and 205 passing.
The defense held Ole Miss to 245 total yards.
The Rebels, 2-5 and 1-4, made it 21-3 at the half on Joshua Shene’s 27-yard field goal with 5:53 left. Running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis had six carries for 31 yards on the drive, but was held to 48 yards on 14 carries the rest of the game. He entered the game averaging 89.6 yards per game, which ranked third in the SEC.
Arkansas pushed the lead to 28-3 in the third quarter when Mustain hit McFadden in the left flat and he raced 70 yards down the sideline for the longest reception of his career.
The defense kept the Rebels from making a game of it by stopping Ole Miss on fourth down four times in the second half, including twice when the score was still close. In the third quarter, the Rebels moved from the 50 to the Hog 32 where Brent Schaeffer threw an incompletion on fourth-and-eight.
On the Rebels’ next possession, they moved from their 21 to the 30 where Green-Ellis was stopped for no gain on fourth-and-one by Matt Hewitt and Marcus Harrison.
Four plays later, Jeremy Davis booted a career-long 44-yard field goal, pushing the lead to 31-3 with 11:56 remaining.
The defense came up with two more fourth-down stops late in the game.
Sophomore quarterback Casey Dick entered with game with 10 minutes left and on his third snap threw a 45-yard touchdown pass down the left sideline to London Crawford.
Arkansas makes its first appearance in Little Rock next week when the Razorbacks take on Louisiana-Monroe in a 6 p.m. game televised by ESPNU.
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