7:00 PM ET, September 6, 2003
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
Both were successful in a 45-13 season-opening victory over Tulsa (0-2) on Saturday, but running backs Cedric Cobbs and De'Arrius Howard stole the show. The duo combined for 210 yards and three touchdowns for Arkansas (1-0).
"Cedric made a lot of people miss tonight," coach Houston Nutt said. "I think that combination between Cedric and De'Arrius is a good 1-2 punch."
Cobbs looked better than he ever has, rushing inside and outside for 145 yards on 12 carries, while Howard ran for two touchdowns and 65 yards. Their efforts and a 53-yard touchdown run by Jones helped the Razorbacks to 294 rushing yards, Arkansas' best performance since going for 426 against Auburn last year.
Cobbs had 100 yards in the first half and he scored in Arkansas' season opener for the fifth straight season with a 58-yard rushing touchdown on the first possession. Cobbs was given a medical redshirt year in 2000 when he separated his right shoulder after three games.
On an option pitch, Cobbs left Tulsa defensive back Bobby Blackshire grabbing air as he turned the corner toward the end zone. Cobbs picked up good yardage running between the tackles.
"That was the kind of game I was hoping he would start like that," Nutt said. "He was the Cedric of old, hitting the hole, making some people miss and get down the sideline."
The running success helped Arkansas' new two-quarterback system build a 28-3 halftime lead and allowed plenty of starters to start resting before the end of the second quarter as they looked ahead to next week's game at No. 6 Texas .
Jones, the starting quarterback, directed two touchdown drives in four chances during the first half, while Sorahan led Arkansas to the end zone on both of his first-half opportunities. Both finished the game with one touchdown pass and Jones was 6 of 10 for 72 yards, while Sorahan completed 5-of-9 for 116 yards.
Tulsa quarterback James Kilian completed 15-of-31 passes for 151, but he was hurried on several throws and penalties hurt the Golden Hurricane at every turn. Uril Parrish gave the Golden Hurricane its only touchdown with a 5-yard run early in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa dominated time of possession by 13 minutes and the offense gained 371 yards, but 12 penalties for 103 yards hurt and so did making just 5-of-16 third-down opportunities.
"I'm extremely disappointed we lost," Tulsa coach Steve Kragthorpe said. "I thought we put ourselves in some situations to get momentum. They blew the door wide open when we gave them a window of opportunity."
Cobbs picked up first downs on his first three carries in the second half. He just missed an 80-touchdown run on the first play of the second half when Tulsa defensive end Jeremy Davis tripped him up on a 23-yard gain.
Howard pounded the ball in the middle for much of the game, until he had a 31-yard run late in the third quarter to set up his second touchdown.
"They both have been working so hard lately and they just kept doing that tonight," said running backs coach Danny Nutt.
Nutt only tipped his hand once in the week leading up to the season opener on how he might use his two quarterbacks. He said that, when he was Arkansas' backup quarterback under Lou Holtz in the late 1970s, he always entered the game on the third series.
Sorahan started the third series Saturday, calling an audible on his first play that resulted in a 48-yard completion to receiver Richard Smith, who ran a 5-yard sideline route and turned upfield.
Howard capped that drive with a 2-yard touchdown run on the first play of the second quarter to give Arkansas a 14-3 lead. Howard scored his second touchdown on a 5-yard run late in the third quarter.
Sorahan completed 3 of 4 passes on his second possession, which started at the Arkansas 47. His 8-yard touchdown pass to George Wilson gave the Razorbacks a 21-3 lead.
Sorahan converted two third downs on the drive and he hit tight end Jason Peters for a 12-yard reception.
Peters had a good performance in passing game coordinator Roy Wittke's first effort. Wittke put more emphasis on throwing to the tight end and Peters, who had seven receptions in two years, made three tough catches in the game for 20 yards.
An interception by Ahmad Carroll gave Jones his fourth series and the junior quarterback needed two plays. Jones took an option keeper 53 yards for a touchdown, leaving Blackshire grasping for air once again and giving Arkansas a 28-3 lead.
Wittke's new offensive wrinkles also include more downfield passes and Jones provided them, too. He hit Smith on a 41-yard touchdown down the middle of the field midway through the fourth quarter.
"I think the offense as a whole did pretty well tonight," Jones said.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||5-16||5-11|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|TD||12:20||CEDRIC COBBS 58 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||8:14||BRAD DEVAULT 48 YD FG|
Drive info: 9 plays, 47 yards.
|TD||14:56||DE'ARRIUS HOWARD 2 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||9:55||GEORGE WILSON 8 YD PASS FROM RYAN SORAHAN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||2:49||MATT JONES 53 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 61 yards.
|FG||10:10||BRAD DEVAULT 31 YD FG|
Drive info: 10 plays, 66 yards.
|TD||1:29||DE'ARRIUS HOWARD 5 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 46 yards.
|TD||9:54||URIL PARRISH 5 YD RUN (BRAD DEVAULT KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||8:27||RICHARD SMITH 41 YD PASS FROM MATT JONES (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 80 yards.
|FG||5:26||CHRIS BALSEIRO 29 YD FG|
Drive info: 5 plays, 19 yards.