Friday, December 13, 2002
Mississippi 38, Arkansas 24
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- Robert Williams' 97-yard kickoff return offset an emotional Arkansas touchdown and Mississippi followed with two TDs in 66 seconds as the Rebels beat the Razorbacks 38-24 on Saturday.
Williams' run up the middle tied the game after Arkansas (4-4, 1-4 SEC) had driven 80 yards with John Rutledge at quarterback.
Rutledge was playing flag football until coach Houston Nutt -- worried about the right ankle of Zak Clark -- called Rutledge on Monday night. Clark lasted seven plays against the Rebels (6-2, 3-2 SEC) although he did return to the game.
Romaro Miller's 9-yard touchdown pass to Doug Zeigler ended an 80-yard drive and put the Rebels in front 14-7. After the kickoff, Clark tried to throw a sideline pattern to Boo Williams. Syniker Taylor took a good angle and intercepted with one hand before running out of bounds at the Arkansas 35.
Deuce McAllister got outside for 20 and Charles Stackhouse, who played high school football in Arkansas, powered for 7. From the 8, Arkansas offered little resistance as McAllister picked his way into the end zone. The Rebels extended their lead to 17 when Les Binkley added a 41-yard field goal after McAllister's 10-yard punt return to the Arkansas 26.
The Rebels opened the second half with a 71-yard drive. Miller ran for 19 and 9 yards on two straight third downs and then lobbed a pass that Grant Heard caught in stride before crossing the goal. The 27-yard play made it 31-10.
The victory made the Rebels eligible for their fourth straight bowl trip and kept them in the chase in the Western Division of the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas is in jeopardy of missing a bowl trip for the first time in Nutt's three years. The Razorbacks need two more victories and still must play at Tennessee and Mississippi State.
After Clark limped off, Rutledge threw for a first down. Nutt put Rutledge in the shotgun on fourth-and-4 from the Mississippi 39 and he came through with a completion to a kneeling Richard Smith for 6. On second down from the 30, Fred Talley found a hole off the left side, twice dipped inside to set up defenders and jogged the final 10 yards into the end zone.
The lead was brief.
Ironically, the Rebels' last kickoff return for a touchdown came last year when McAllister ran one back 100 yards against Arkansas.
The Rebels didn't make a first down until Stackhouse bulled for 12 yards with barely a minute left in the first quarter. That run started an 11-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Miller's pass to Zeigler.
Miller caught Arkansas in a blitz and his dump pass to Toward Sanford was good for 17 yards. McAllister almost went all the way on third-and-1 from the Arkansas 40 and Miller followed with an 11-yard pass to Zeigler. From the 9, Miller rolled left and, with Carlos Hall closing fast, threw high to Zeigler behind Arkansas' defenders in the end zone.
|Deuce McAllister rushed for 131 yards on 20 carries and two touchdowns for Mississippi.|