COLUMBIA, S.C. – No. 12 Arkansas forced South Carolina dual-threat quarterback Syvelle Newton to the bench, surviving a spark by backup Blake Mitchell, and rode Darren McFadden and Marcus Monk to a 26-20 road victory Saturday.
Arkansas also went to its second-team quarterback, bringing in sophomore Casey Dick after its first possession, but tailback Darren McFadden carried the load as the Hogs won for the eighth straight time.
Newton entered the game averaging 194.4 yards of total offense per game, but he finished with 15 yards rushing on seven carries and 76 passing on seven-of-19 attempts for 91 total yards.
Overall, the Razorback defense limited the Gamecocks to 340 yards of total offense with just 74 rushing.
Offensively, McFadden came up big, lining up as a tailback and as a quarterback, and Monk delivered big plays as Arkansas improved to 8-1 overall and remained the only team undefeated in Southeastern Conference play at 5-0.
McFadden ran for 219 yards and two touchdowns on 25 carries. His yardage total ties for the fourth-best single-game mark in school history and he has topped the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight year. He has 1,038 yards this year after running for 1,113 yards last year, becoming just the third back in school history to record multiple 1,000-yard seasons.
Monk set career highs with eight receptions for 192 yards, which ties for the 14th-best catch total in school history and is the fifth-best yardage total in school history.
Dick finished the game 11-of-19 passing for 228 yards with one touchdown and an interception.
The Razorbacks’ eight-game winning streak is their longest since the 1998 club won its first eight games to open the season. Those streaks are the longest for Arkansas since the 1970 squad won nine straight.
Mitchell sparked South Carolina in the second half, completing 15-of-21 passes for 213 yards and two scores. His touchdown pass on USC’s first possession of the second half got the Gamecocks within 26-13.
On his second possession, he drove USC 99 yards for a touchdown on a 10-yard pass to Sidney Rice in the left corner of the end zone. The drive took just 2:09 in nine plays, getting the Gamecocks within 26-20 with 13:50 left.
Arkansas answered by driving from its 20 to the USC 23, but a third-and-11 pass was incomplete and Jeremy Davis’ 41-yard field goal was just wide right.
After the miss, Mitchell moved South Carolina to the 45, but he was intercepted by Darius Vinnett and his seven-yard return gave Arkansas possession with 5:05 remaining.
On third-and-10, Dick hit Monk down the right seam for 26 yards to the USC 40. Five plays later, following four straight carries by Felix Jones, Dick rolled right, stepped away from a defender to buy more time and hit Monk for a 14-yard gain to the 12.
UA ran out the clock the rest of the way to get the win.
On Arkansas’ third offensive play, quarterback Mitch Mustain was intercepted at the South Carolina 47, setting up a Gamecock field goal.
Newton converted a third-and-19 with a 25-yard completion to Kenny McKinley to the Arkansas 37. He also passed 12 yards to Sidney Rice to the 25 before USC settled for Ryan Succop’s 35-yard field goal and a 3-0 lead with 7:03 left in the first quarter.
Dick replaced Mustain at quarterback, but McFadden was the key.
Following Succop’s field goal, McFadden carried twice for nine yards before Dick found Monk for an 18-yard gain to the USC 43.
On the next play, McFadden ran through the right side 43 yards for a touchdown and a 7-3 lead with 4:27 left in the first quarter.
A Jamaal Anderson sack forced the Gamecocks to punt on their next possession and Arkansas drove 61 yards in six plays to score again and take a 14-3 lead on a 14-yard McFadden draw up the middle. On the first play of the drive, McFadden lined up at quarterback and went around left end for 29 yards to the USC 39.
South Carolina cut the lead to 14-6 on its next possession on a 37-yard field goal by Succop, but the Gamecocks had first-and-10 at the 11 before an offensive pass interference penalty pushed them back to the 26.
On its next possession, Arkansas forced a punting situation from the USC 21. Anthony Brown rushed straight up the middle untouched to block Succop’s punt. The ball was recovered in the end zone by USC’s Lanard Stafford, but the Razorbacks picked up a safety for a 16-6 lead with 5:44 left in the half.
At the end of the half, Arkansas forced USC to punt again deep in its territory. With a first down at its 12, Newton was sacked by end Antwain Robinson for a nine-yard loss to the three.
Three plays later, the Hogs had the ball at the USC 49. On third-and-11 at the 50 with 11 seconds left in the half, Dick threw down the left hash for Monk. Two USC defensive backs deflected the ball before Monk hauled it in at the goal line and stepped into the end zone to give UA a 23-6 halftime lead.
Arkansas got the ball to open the second half and drove 78 yards in 12 plays before settling for a 19-yard field goal by Jeremy Davis and a 26-6 lead at the 9:29 mark.
Arkansas plays host to Tennessee in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday.