FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team came out firing Saturday to open the 2010 season, winning 44-3 vs. Tennessee Tech in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, marking the first time under head coach Bobby Petrino and the first time since 2007 that UA held an opponent without a touchdown. The Razorbacks put up 519 yards of offense in the evening contest, with 301 yards in passing coming from preseason All-Southeastern Conference first-teamer Ryan Mallett.
Coach Petrino improved to 7-0 all-time in season openers with the victory. The Razorback leader, in his third year at the helm, liked how his team came out with excitement to start the season, especially the UA defenders.
"I liked what our defense did tonight" Coach Petrino said. "They were out there really flying around. We got a lot of people to the football."
Mallett, connected on 21-of-24 passes for an .875 completion percentage, which is an Arkansas school record, and the second-highest mark in SEC history. In his second season-opener for the Razorbacks, Mallett tied the school record for passing touchdowns in an opener with three. The mark matches records set by former Razorbacks Matt Jones (Boise State, 2002) and Clint Stoener (SMU, 1999). The record moves Mallett’s school record count to 18.
The Texarkana, Ark., native spread the ball around, connecting with eight of his Razorback teammates on at least one pass attempt. Mallett noted it’s a good feeling to start out with a win.
"The first win is always the toughest one," Mallett said. "You never know what to expect the first game out. Tennessee Tech did some things well in the first half, but we were able to adjust in the second half and played really good defense."
The Razorback offense got the balling rolling just 41 seconds into the second quarter to take a 7-3 lead over Tennessee Tech. UA running back Dennis Johnson weaved into the end zone from seven yards out to notch the score. The Texarkana, Ark., native’s run capped a scoring drive that covered 49 yards in 4:32. Johnson rushed for 60 yards in the game.
Less than a minute after Johnson’s touchdown run, the Arkansas defense came knocking. UA stuffed the Tennessee Tech offense backwards for a safety at the 13:46 mark to make the score 9-3. The safety was the first for the Razorbacks since Nov. 7, 2009 vs. South Carolina.
Leading by six, Coach Petrino called on junior running back Broderick Green to find the end zone from short distance, diving over the UA offensive linemen for the 1-yard score. Green, a native of Little Rock, Ark., totaled 23 yards with the touchdown run.
Arkansas’ offense, known for taking big chunks of yards in a hurry, did just that with Mallett connecting with junior wide receiver Joe Adams down the east sideline for an 85-yard touchdown pass; the first score of the season for the Razorback duo. The throw, which capped a 3-play, 94-yard drive (1:20), was the longest completion of Mallett’s Arkansas career and the longest reception of Adams’ collegiate career. Adams extends his streak of consecutive games with a reception to 23, spanning his entire UA career.
The Razorback defense was at work the entire game, surrendering the only Golden Eagle points of the contest on Matthew Barker’s 27-yard field goal at 4:49 in the first quarter. After the 10-play, 51-yard drive that resulted in the first-quarter field goal, Arkansas allowed only 136 more yards to the Golden Eagles. The UA defensive unit allowed 187 total yards of offense to TTU.
Arkansas’ Ronnie Wingo Jr. became the third UA running back to find the end zone at the 11:01 mark in the third quarter, rumbling over the goal line from 10 yards out. The score moved Arkansas’ advantage to 30-3. Wingo Jr. tallied 47 rushing yards behind Johnson’s 60-yard total and sophomore running back Knile Davis’ 67-yard ground yardage mark, which led all UA runners.
In further second-half action, Mallett found UA receiver Cobi Hamilton in the red zone on a three-yard touchdown strike, marking Mallett’s second scoring throw of the night, moving the score to 37-3 in favor of Arkansas. Hamilton finished with two catches for 40 yards and the score. The junior signal caller would deliver one more touchdown toss, finding Adams from the 15 yard line to provide the second Mallett-Adams TD connection of the evening.
UA’s receiving corps leader for the night was Adams, with a six-catch, 138-yard and two touchdown performance. Senior tight end D.J. Williams was Arkansas’ second-leading receiver, grabbing five catches for 68 yards. With his fourth catch of the game, Williams moved into eighth on Arkansas’ all-time career receptions list with 102 grabs. His final catch of the evening was No. 103.
The Arkansas defense put together three scoreless quarters to round out the outing for the Razorbacks, improving the squad’s all-time record in season openers to 91-22-4 (.795). The win marks UA’s sixth-straight home game victory. Entering the night’s matchup, the Razorbacks’ five-game home winning streak was the third-longest in the Southeastern Conference and the 15th-longest in the NCAA.
The Razorbacks head to War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark., Sept. 11 to take on ULM. The game is set to kick at 6 p.m. and will air on FSN. For more information on Razorback football, check ArkansasRazorbacks.com.