Mallett accounts for record-tying six TDs as Hogs hammer UTEP 58-21
FAYETTEVILLE - Arkansas erased an early defifict to blow away UTEP 58-21 on Senior Night at Eazorback Stadium.
The Razorbacks amassed 577 yards (326 rushing, 251 passing) and eight touchdowns, six of which came from the arm and feet of quarterback Ryan Mallett, which tied a school record. Running back Knile Davis set a new career high with 182 yards rushing against the Miners.
HOG QB RYAN MALLETT
"It was a good win for us," Arkansas coach Bobby 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."
The Razorbacks return at SEC action at 6 p.m. Saturday on ESPN at No. 17 Mississippi State.
For Mallett, the UA-UTEP matchup was another record-setting occasion. The Texarkana, Texas, product tied the school record for touchdowns owned by Malvern's Madre Hill (vs. South Carolina in 1995). Mallett has tied or broken 35 different school or stadium records in his Razorback career.
"Ryan was very efficient," 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 with the Razorback defense wrecking havoc. 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.