Oct 6, 2012; Auburn, AL, USA; Arkansas Razorbacks running back Dennis Johnson (33) avoids the tackle of Auburn Tigers defensive end Craig Sanders (13) and scores a touchdown during the second half at Jordan-Hare Stadium. The Razorbacks beat the Tigers 24-7. Mandatory Credit: John Reed-US PRESSWIRE
Auburn, AL – The battle for redemption in the SEC West between Auburn and Arkansas was won by the Razorbacks 24-7 Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium leaving the Tigers and Wildcats in position for worst in-conference team during the 2012 college football season.
For the Arkansas (2-4, 1-2) faithful the Auburn game was penciled in as a preseason victory. After a 1-4 start, with one disappointing loss after another to start the season, the faith of Razorback Nation had been shaken. Saturday was a glimpse of what the season should have resembled all along.
Auburn (1-4, 0-3) fans are still left scratching their heads how they could lose at home to a team that was previously outscored in two SEC games by a total score of 110-10. The Razorbacks had the 116th ranked defense in the nation entering the showdown and with the Tigers coming off a bye makes the loss that much more difficult to stomach.
The game was not a pretty game by any stretch but the Razorbacks powered through Auburn’s defense tallying 371 net offensive yards paced by running back Dennis Johnson’s 77 yard rushing performance with two rushing touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball the Razorback defense looked like a SEC defense for the first time this season creating five Tiger turnovers, three interceptions and two fumbles. The Hogs entered the game having only taken one fumble and one interception away from the opposition in their first five games of the season.
Arkansas also limited Auburn to 328 yards of total offense after allowing an average of 510 yards per game previously; a difference of 182 yards.
The Arkansas pass defense helped create coverage sacks for the front four as the Razorbacks sacked Kiehl Frazier and Clint Moseley four times each to assert their tempo on the game.
Led by defensive end Trey Flowers’ 3.5 sacks, Saturday’s eight sack performance against Auburn was the highest single game sack total for the Hogs since the 2000 Cotton Bowl verses University of Texas. The Hogs had a total of seven sacks, tied for 90th in the nation before Saturday’s contest.
The Razorbacks started the game with a nine play 67-yard drive that ended in the first of two Zach Hocker missed field goals on the day. The missed field goal came after the Hogs had a first and goal from the six-yard line making fans wonder if this was another repeat of the A&M debacle.
On the Razorbacks second drive of the first quarter Dennis Johnson bowled his way into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown to give the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead.
Early in the second quarter Hocker pushed the Arkansas lead to 10-0 on a 27-yard field goal. Auburn had a scoring opportunity on the following drive but Cody Parkey missed a 49-yard field goal attempt.
In the second half Auburn head coach Gene Chizik replaced starting quarterback Kiehl Frazier with Clint Moseley. After three second half drives that ended in punts, the Tigers found the end zone on a 21-yard touchdown pass along the left side line scored by Emory Blake.
To start the fourth quarter Arkansas scored on a double pass from Tyler Wilson to wide out Brandon Mitchell with Javontee Herndon hauling in the 26-yard touchdown to push the score to 17-7.
Dennis Johnson put the final points on the board with 9:05 remaining in the fourth quarter on another two-yard plunge into the end zone.
Wilson ended the game 22 of 29 for 248 yards with no interceptions. The Arkansas line showed improved blocking in the running and passing game. Wilson was only sacked once on Saturday.
Junior running back Knile Davis’ storybook return from a 2011 ankle injury has been rocky at best. Davis was held to three rushing attempts for minus three yards.
True freshman running back Jonathan Williams ended the game with six rushes for 33 yards while backing up Johnson.
Arkansas senior receiver Cobi Hamilton had a team-high five catches for 72 yards followed by tight end Austin Tate’s four receptions for 44 yards. Hamilton extended his streak of consecutive games with at least one catch to 28.
Moseley finished the game 13 of 21 for 166 yards with one passing touchdown and two picks. Frazier was 9 of 13 for 118 yards with one interception.
The Tiger running backs were kept in check throughout the game. Mike Blakely ran for a team-high 43 total yards on seven attempts.
Emory Blake was the player of the game for Auburn on offense catching a game-high 10 passes for 116 yards with one score.
Sophomore wide receiver Keante Minor took over punt returning duties on Saturday muffing one punt but successfully fair catching five other attempts.
The Razorbacks return to Fayetteville next week to take on the Kentucky Wildcats while Auburn travels to the resurgent Rebels of Ole Miss.
Arkansas Notes of Interest
Tyler Wilson moved to third on the Razorbacks’ all-time career passing list. Wilson (5,949) passed Barry Lunney Jr. (5,782), Casey Dick (5,856), and Matt Jones (5,857).
Terrell Williams led the Razorbacks with 12 tackles and also contributed one sack with 1.5 tackles for a loss.
Auburn’s rushing total was held to 44 total yards thanks to 69 negative rushing yards on sacks given up between Frazier and Moseley.