FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas made big plays on defense, but Georgia quarterback David Greene was too sharp as the No. 6 Bulldogs rallied for a 20-14 victory over the Razorbacks at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Greene completed 22-of-29 passes for a career-high 382 yards with two touchdowns. Reggie Brown and seven receptions for 107 yards and Fred Gibson six for 169 and a touchdown as Georgia improved to 6-1 overall and 3-1 in the Southeastern Conference.
Arkansas stayed in the game behind a play-making defense and with Matt Jones at quarterback, but Jones was forced out of the game for UA’s final two possessions as the Razorbacks dropped to 3-4 and 1-3.
“Our guys laid it on the line tonight,” UA head coach Houston Nutt said. “They played very hard. Our defense played its best game all year. We had a lot of missed opportunities and you can’t turn the ball over against a great team like we did.”
Jones, who suffered a pulled groin last week at Auburn and was questionable for this week, was 12-of-19 for 181 yards and a touchdown and he became the SEC’s career quarterback rushing leader. He had 21 yards on six carries to end the game with 2,301 yards and moved past Mississippi State’s John Bond. The two were tied with 2,280 yards entering the game.
“He was pretty close to full speed at the beginning of the game, but at halftime he wasn’t the same,” Nutt said of Jones. “I thought we could still win it in the fourth quarter, even with Robert (Johnson) in there.”
Trailing 17-14 with 9:12 left, Jones was sacked for a 15-yard loss by David Pollack, who forced and recovered a fumble at the UA eight. Four plays and one yard later, Andy Bailey kicked a 24-yard field goal for a 20-14 lead with 7:40 remaining.
More importantly, Jones was done for the rest of the game.
Johnson took over on the ensuing possession and the offense failed to get a first down.
The defense kept Georgia off the board, but the Bulldogs took more than three minutes off the clock. Johnson got another chance at the Arkansas 19 with 3:10 remaining, but he never had a chance. Under heavy pressure, he was sacked for a four-yard loss on first down and a five-yard loss on second down. A motion penalty forced UA into a third-and-24 at the five. Johnson scrambled for 11 yards to the 16, but threw incomplete on fourth-and-13.
Georgia ran out the remaining 2:13 to get the win.
“The turning point in the game was when Jones couldn’t return,” UG head coach Mark Richt said. “It is all discipline with that guy (Pollack). That strip was huge for us. It made it a six-point game instead of three.”
Georgia generated 513 yards of total offense, but Arkansas’ defense countered by recovering two fumbles, with one returned for a touchdown by Marcus Harrison, recording three sacks and 11 tackles for loss, and holding the Bulldogs to four-of-15 on third down conversions.
The difference was Greene. Georgia took the lead for good with 4:48 left in the third quarter when he connected with tight end Leonard Perry in the left corner of the end zone for a 10-yard score and a 17-14 UG advantage. The drive was set up by an Arkansas fumble at its 34.
Arkansas played its best first half in a month and led 14-10 at the half. Since the 27-10 victory over Alabama on Sept. 25, the Hogs lost at Florida, 45-20, and at Auburn, 38-20. UA was outscored a combined 65-14 in the first half in those two contests.
Against the Bulldogs, Arkansas not only limited UG to 10 first-half points, but the Hogs got a touchdown from their defense.
Jeb Huckeba’s seven-yard sack of Greene resulted in a fumble, which Harrison scooped up at the 18 and returned for a touchdown. The defensive score was the first for Arkansas since defensive back Bo Mosley returned an interception 50 yards for a touchdown in a 23-0 victory over Troy State on Nov. 2, 2002, a span of 26 games.
UA’s defense also turned Georgia away at the Razorback one when on fourth-and-goal, Harrison and Clarke Moore dropped Danny Ware for no gain. Earlier in the quarter, Sam Olajubutu’s tackle of Ware after a one-yard gain forced the Bulldogs to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Bailey after driving 59 yards in eight plays and reaching the UA 14.
Following Harrison’s fumble return to give Arkansas its 14-10 lead with 1:29 left in the half, Georgia reached the UA 24 with two seconds left.
Arkansas called consecutive timeouts and Bailey missed to the right on a 31-yard field goal attempt.
Arkansas took an early lead when on UA’s second possession Marcus Monk snared a 17-yard touchdown pass from Jones. Monk caught a tipped ball in the right corner of the end zone between to Bulldog defenders.
The play capped a five-play, 68-yard drive that gave the Hogs a 7-0 lead with 7:59 left in the opening quarter.
Georgia got on the board on its next possession when Bailey hit a 31-yard field goal with 3:55 left in the first period. UA forced the field goal when Olajubutu made the tackle on third-and-five.
Arkansas missed a great chance to jump on the board early. After forcing a Georgia fumble on the game’s first play from scrimmage, a 31-yard reception by Steven Harris set the Razorbacks up inside the UG 10. Arkansas couldn’t punch it in and Chris Balseiro missed a 24-yard field goal.
The Hogs forced a three-and-out and Georgia’s ensuing possession and scored on the 17-yard pass from Jones to Monk.
Huckeba had a huge game for Arkansas with 12 tackles, four tackles for loss and three sacks.
Monk continued to shine with four receptions for 59 yards and the touchdown, but he was held without a catch in the second half. Kyle Dickerson led the Hogs with 38 yards rushing on seven carries.
Thomas Brown ran for 107 on 23 carries for Georgia.
Arkansas is off this week before traveling to South Carolina on Nov. 6.