TUSCALOOSA, Ala. — Alabama scored 21 points off three Arkansas turnovers as the Crimson Tide recorded a 31-10 Southeastern Conference victory Saturday over the Razorbacks in front of a crowd of 83,818 and a CBS Sports nationwide audience.
Reggie Myles’ 42-yard fumble return gave Alabama (2-1, 2-0) a 14-3 lead 4:41 before halftime, Todd Bates’ 27-yard fumble return set up Tyler Watts’ 39-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Milons a play later for a 24-10 Tide advantage and Thurman Ward’s 60-yard interception for a TD closed the scoring with 20 seconds left in the game.
The miscues offset a good effort by the Hogs. Arkansas out-gained Alabama, 315-249, got career-high efforts from Richard Smith, George Wilson and Ryan Sorahan, and held a 35:28-24:32 advantage in time of possession, but the turnovers were too much to overcome.
Arkansas took advantage of a turnover first. Carlos Hall recovered a fumble at the Alabama 36 on the game’s first possession. After reaching the Tide four, Brennan O’Donohoe converted his second field goal attempt of the year, a 22-yarder, for a 3-0 Razorback lead.
Alabama, led by Ahmaad Galloway’s 63 yards on 20 carries, marched 80 yards in 13 plays on the ensuing possession to take a 7-3 lead on an 11-yard Galloway run.
Following a missed 57-yard field goal attempt by Neal Thomas with 4:52 left in the half, Myles scooped up a Cedric Cobbs fumble on the next play and raced down the far sideline untouched for a 14-3 Tide lead.
Cobbs’ fumble was the first in his 243 career carries, combing rushing, receiving and returns, in which Arkansas has lost possession of the ball.
The Razorbacks answered with their most impressive drive of the year, going 75 yards in 12 plays, including a fourth-and-one conversion, to get within 14-10 just before the half on Brandon Holmes’ one-yard plunge. Sorahan completed two passes to Wilson for 28 yards and Holmes had six carries for 42 yards on the drive.
After falling behind 17-10, Arkansas got a break when Jimmy Beasley blocked an Alabama punt to give the Razorbacks possession at the Tide 28 late in the third period.
Sorahan, who was 14 of 19 for 139 yards, tried to lob a lateral to the right flat. The backwards pass was deflected by Brooks Daniels. Sorahan knocked the ball to the ground, but Bates picked up the loose ball and his 27-yard return set up the TD strike from Watts to Milons.
Sorahan was knocked from the game on the play with a back injury. Zak Clark filled in and was 6 of 16 for 46 yards with an interception. Freshman Tarvaris Jackson got in at the end of the game and was 2 of 5 for 24 yards with the interception returned for a touchdown by Ward.
Wilson and Smith came up big for the Hogs at the wideout positions. Smith had eight receptions for 93 yards while Wilson had seven for 73. Each set career highs for catches and yardage.
Holmes, who has scored four of Arkansas’ last five rushing touchdowns going back to last year, had 81 yards on 17 carries while Fred Talley added 71 yards on 17 attempts.
Watts was 9 of 16 for 133 yards for Alabama.
Arkansas (1-2, 0-2) plays at Georgia Saturday in a 5:30 p.m. game televised by ESPN2.