Sep 22, 2012; Fayetteville, AR, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks fans react to a play during the game against the Rutgers Scarlet Knights at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Rutgers defeated arkansas 35-26. Mandatory Credit: Nelson Chenault-US PRESSWIRE
Fayetteville, Ark. – The disappointing season preseason No. 10 Arkansas (1-3) is experiencing continues to freefall after the Razorbacks lost 35-26 to Rutgers (4-0) Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
The Razorback offense received the uptick expected with the return of senior quarterback Tyler Wilson from injury (concussion) but the Arkansas pass defense did little to help Wilson preserve a 10-0 first quarter lead.
Despite throwing for 410 yards on a night when Wilson completed 20 of 39 passes with three touchdowns and two interceptions, his offensive performance could not keep pace with Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova. Nova completed 25 of 35 passes for 397 yards with five touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Arkansas rushed out of the gate settling on a 37-yard Zach Hocker field goal on their opening drive then finished the first quarter with a 57-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to wide receiver Cobi Hamilton. The Scarlet Knights then settled in scoring 21 unanswered points before Zach Hocker kicked a 27-yard field goal to cut the third quarter score to 21-13.
Undaunted Nova led Rutgers back down the field throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Paul Carrezola with 3:10 left in the third quarter for a 28-13 lead.
Wilson’s heroics heated up driving Arkansas 66-yards down the field before throwing an interception in the end zone while looking for a touchdown pass to true freshman receiver Mekale McKay.
Rutgers started the fourth quarter with the second missed field goal on the night by place kicker Kyle Federico.
Tyler Wilson led back to back scoring drives to start the fourth quarter for Arkansas ending in a 10-yard touchdown pass to Cobi Hamilton and 80-yard score for Hamilton from Wilson. Arkansas went for two after pulling the score to 28-26 on Hamilton’s third touchdown catch of the night put failed to convert the attempt.
Nova put Rutgers on his back for his fifth touchdown pass of the night completing a 60-yard pass and catch to Mark Harrison pushing the Scarlet Knights lead to 35-26.
The Razorback defense then held Rutgers forcing a punt with 6:26 left in the game.
With a glimmer of hope, Wilson took the field needing 75 yards for the game winning touchdown. After five plays covering 23 yards, each play looking like Wilson was looking for the homerun swing on each throw, Arkansas was forced to punt.
The Razorbacks senior punter Dylan Breeding hemmed Rutgers down at the 1-yard line. On the first play from the one, Nova handed off to running back Jawan Jamison.
Jamison initially stopped in the end zone for what appeared to be a game changing safety, rushed around the left side for a 24-yard gain snuffing out the Hogs comeback attempt.
Rutgers outperformed Arkansas in every major facet of the game rushing for 131 net yards to Arkansas 73, compiling 528 total yards of offense to Arkansas 492, and winning the turnover battle 0-2 (Wilson interceptions).
Nova was never sacked in the contest with Wilson giving up one recorded sack but repeatedly being knocked to the ground throughout the game.
Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton had a career night catching 10 passes for 303 yards, a SEC record, with three touchdowns.
Dennis Johnson showed signs of life for the Razorback running game totaling 47 rushing yards on six carries (7.8 yards per carry) while starter Knile Davis was held to 17 yards on 10 attempts (1.7 yards per carry).
Rutgers had three receivers total 85 or more receiving yards with a team-high 6 catches for 89 yards and two scores by Brandon Coleman.
The Scarlet Knights continued to give the ball to their workhorse running back Jawan Jamison. Jamison followed up his 41 rushing attempt night last weekend against South Florida with a 33 carry night for 119 yards against the Hogs.
The bad injury news continues for Arkansas. Senior tight end Chris Gragg left the game after two catches for eight yards with a leg injury. Gragg was on the sideline with a brace on his leg after taking a hit in the first half.
Rutgers improved to 4-0, their best start to a season since 2006.
For Arkansas the end result is very reminiscent of past Razorback teams especially 1996 (Danny Ford) and 2005 (Houston Nutt) when the Hogs opened their respective seasons 1-3.
In 1996 and 2005 Arkansas finished their college football seasons with an identical record of 4-7, 2-6.
Up next for Arkansas is a road trip to Texas A&M (2-1) while Rutgers has a bye before facing Big East opponent Connecticut (2-2).