FAYETTEVILLE — The University of Arkansas football team held its annual Red-White Spring Game Saturday in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium, with the Red Team defeating the White Team 65-0. A record crowd of 45,250 came out to watch the scrimmage. It’s the second straight year that a record crowd has been on hand for the Red-White Spring Game and bests last year’s crowd of 42,000.
Tyler Wilson and Cobi Hamilton made up the star connection of the afternoon with both players connecting on 11 passes for 156 yards for the Red Team. Much of the Red offense also went through senior tight end Chris Gragg, who had nine catches for 130 yards and two touchdowns. Marquel Wade added 136 yards on six catches with one touchdown, and Ronnie Wingo Jr. led the ground game with 88 yards and three scores on 14 carries.
Gragg was the first player in the end zone to start the scoring for the Red Team as he hauled in a six-yard pass from Wilson at the 10:03 mark of the first quarter to put his team up 6-0. The score capped a 13-play drive that started the game and ended with four straight completions from Wilson. Along with Gragg, Hamilton and senior Dennis Johnson caught passes in those final four plays to put the Red Team on top early.
The Red Team found the end zone again on its next possession, this time on the ground from Wingo. The St. Louis, Mo. native plunged in a 2-yard run for his first touchdown of the afternoon and put the Red Team up two scores, 13-0. The drive was much shorter than the first, but more efficient as Wilson scattered the field with passes of 18 yards, nine yards and four yards to Wade and Gragg. The big play was a 25-yard pass to Hamilton, which put the Red Team in good position for Wingo’s score.
Gragg was in the end zone once again before the end of the first quarter as he brought down a long 60-yard pass from Wilson to add to the Red score. Wilson found Gragg on a crossing pattern, and the tight end then turned up field and saw nothing but green to put the Red Team up 20-0.
The game moved into the second quarter and the Red Team found the end zone for a fourth time on the back of an 11-yard run from Johnson. It was Johnson’s first time to visit the end zone and completed a short five-play, 67-yard drive that only took 1:57 off the clock. Johnson was the key contributor on the drive as he had three rushes for 21 yards and one catch for 11 yards, but the big play this time was through the air to Wade for 34 yards. Wade caught the ball right outside of the red zone, and Johnson was able to carry the team the rest of the way to put the Red Team up 27-0 with 12:50 to go in the half.
Another Red Team score came from the special teams as junior kicker Zach Hocker booted a 21 yarder straight through the uprights to light up the scoreboard to read 30-0. In the drive, Wilson was right at home connecting with Hamilton for 37 yards on the first play from scrimmage and then for another eight yards on the next play. A 19-yard rush by Wingo set the table for Hocker, who added the three points with 8:32 to go in the second quarter.
The final score of the first half came from a 1-yard run by Wingo, his second touchdown rush of the game and pushed Red’s lead to 37-0. Wilson completed five passes in the drive for 66 yards and connected with four different receivers. By halftime, Wilson tallied 404 yards through the air on 26 completions with two touchdowns. His longest was on the 60-yard pass to Gragg at the end of the first quarter.
In the second half, the Red Team entered the end zone four more times, the first coming from Wingo on an 11-yard run. Then, Brandon Mitchell connected with Wade for a 15-yard scoring pass, followed by a 13-yard touchdown toss from Brandon Allen to Julian Horton. Mitchell capped the scoring for the day with a 4-yard run to put the final tally at 65-0 for the Red Team.
Robert Atiga, a linebacker for the White Team led all Razorbacks with 12 tackles, four of which were unassisted. Houston Pruitt and Alan Turner finished right behind Atiga with 11 each. Trey Flowers and Chris Smith each tallied two sacks in the game for the Red Team. Kaelon Kelleybrew led the Red Team with five tackles and also nabbed the only interception in the game, which he returned for 44 yards.
At halftime, seniors from the 2011 Razorback football team were honored and team awards were given out to various players. Ray Gervasi earned the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year award and Davyon McKinney won the Scout Team Defensive Player of the Year award. The Team Captains award went to Knile Davis, Tyler Wilson, Jarius Wright, Jerico Nelson, Jake Bequette and Jerry Franklin. Dennis Johnson was the Comeback Player of the Year and Joe Adams was the Special Teams Player of the Year. Kiero Small won the Offensive Coaches Award and Byran Jones won the Defensive Coaches Award. The Offensive Newcomer of the Year went to Jason Peacock and the Defensive Newcomer of the Year went to Alonzo Highsmith. Jarius Wright was the Offensive Player of the Year and Jerry Franklin was the Defensive Player of the Year. The Scholar-Athlete of the Year went to Dylan Breeding and the Team MVP was Tyler Wilson.
Arkansas kicks off the 2012 season Sept. 1 by hosting Jacksonville State in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
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