FAYETTEVILLE – The University of Arkansas football team scored a 58-21 victory against UTEP while celebrating Senior Night on Saturday in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The game was highlighted by the UA offense totaling 577 yards (326 rushing, 251 passing) and eight touchdowns, six of which came from the arm and feet of quarterback Ryan Mallett, tying a school record. Running back Knile Davis set a new career high with 182 yards rushing against the Miners.
Head coach Bobby Petrino was impressed with the way the team played for the senior class’ last game in Fayetteville, improving to 8-2 (4-2, SEC) in 2010.
"It was a good win for us," Coach Petrino said. "It was a good way for the seniors to go out. I thought they did a real nice job all week long in the preparation, and they came out hard tonight and executed and played hard and got a dominating win. It’s good that the young players allowed the seniors to go out the way they needed to go out."
For Mallett, the UA-UTEP matchup was another record-setting occasion. The Texarkana, Ark., native tied the school record for touchdown responsibility in a game with six (five passing, one rushing). The mark ties Madre Hill’s effort vs. South Carolina in 1995 and is the 35th different school or stadium record broken or tied by Mallett in his Razorback career.
Coach Petrino noted the outstanding play of the Razorbacks’ standout quarterback following the game.
"Ryan was very efficient," Coach Petrino said. "He did a nice job again of being focused, understanding what the coverages were. He was very good in the red zone with his accuracy. He made some very accurate throws that resulted in touchdowns."
Davis’ 182 rushing yards were part of a Petrino era-best 326, the most for Arkansas since totaling 385 yards on the ground at LSU in 2007. Davis had 109 rushing yards after his first two carries, including a 70-yard touchdown run to tie the game at 14-14.
After Davis’ equalizing touchdown dash, Mallett went to work. The next five touchdowns came from his throws, starting with Cobi Hamilton snagging an 11-yard score at 2:37 in the first quarter for Arkansas to take the lead 21-14.
Mallett next found the outstretched hands of reliable tight end D.J. Williams over the middle of the field for a 32-yard touchdown connection that put the Razorbacks up 28-14 at 12:09 in the second quarter. Later in the second quarter, Mallett slung another score to wide receiver Jarius Wright from 15 yards out to put UA’s advantage at 35-14.
Prior to the first half’s conclusion, UTEP was unable to convert field goal try after a fumbled snap occurred. The remaining six seconds ran off the clock in the ensuing scramble after cornerback Darius Winston came up with the ball for the Razorbacks. Arkansas’ 21-point lead was safe heading into the break.
Arkansas’ offense was forced to punt just once in the UA-UTEP game, with the Razorback defense wrecking havoc of its own. UA forced four punts, grabbed two interceptions, recovered a fumble and blocked a field goal in the night game. Arkansas secondary members Tramain Thomas and Winston notched the interceptions, while Jake Bequette and Jerry Franklin each recorded a sack. Thomas was responsible for the blocked field goal, the first for Arkansas since Nov. 20, 2004 against Mississippi State.
To start the third quarter, Williams was on the receiving end of another touchdown throw, this time with Mallett shaking free of a Miner defender before delivering the six-yard touchdown strike. Williams’ second score tied a single-game career high, matching his 2008 outing vs. ULM. The scoreboard read 42-14 until Mallett connected with tight end Chris Gragg to advance UA’s lead to 49-14 with 3:19 remaining in the third quarter. Mallett complied 215 yards passing before giving way to backup Tyler Wilson at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
Mallett found the end zone on the ground for UA’s first score of the game at the 9:54 mark in the first quarter. Arkansas’ 6-6, 238-pound signal caller rolled out to pass from the 14-yard line and dashed across the goal line for the touchdown to tie the game 7-7. UTEP scored previously off a 51-yard scoring run from Leilyon Myers.
UTEP found the end zone again in the first quarter when Marion McClure returned a kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown. The Miners would fail to score again until the fourth quarter, when a 60-yard pass to Kris Adams from James Thomas II was bookended by two Arkansas scores. Kicker Zach Hocker connected on a 37-yard field goal attempt and running back Broderick Green found the end zone on a 1-yard plunge to make the final outcome 58-21.
The Razorbacks hit the road next Saturday, returning to Southeastern Conference action at No. 17 Mississippi State. The game will kick off at 6 p.m. on ESPN from inside Davis Wade Stadium.
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