7:00 PM ET, September 4, 2004
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Senior quarterback Matt Jones was the star as a young Arkansas team beat overmatched New Mexico State 63-13 Saturday. But freshmen provided some of the brightest highlights for the Razorbacks.
Jones completed 13 of 16 passes for 195 yards and a touchdown. The Razorbacks' only returning offensive starter, Jones also ran for 38 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game after the first drive of the third quarter.
Coach Houston Nutt praised Jones' leadership as well as his play.
"He's excellent in the huddle, he's excellent on the sidelines. He's just a winner for us," Nutt said.
As pleased as the coach was with his most experienced player, he had to be ecstatic over the performance of his freshmen -- who have known since before they arrived on campus last month that they would have to contribute quickly if the Razorbacks are to go to a record-setting seventh straight bowl game.
Among their highlights: Kevin Woods blocked a punt attempt by Steven Smith at the New Mexico State 1 and classmate Chris Houston grabbed the ball and ran it in. Peyton Hillis ran nine times for 32 yards and two touchdowns.
Six-foot-6 freshman Marcus Monk caught a 38-yard touchdown pass from Jones, leaping to catch the ball over defenders at the 5, and keeping his feet long enough to roll into the end zone.
"I'm very proud of them," Nutt said of his least experienced players. "I just don't want them to change. I get so nervous when they have a great (preseason) camp."
Arkansas' defense, an overall more-experienced squad, held the Aggies to 216 yards of total offense. By the time New Mexico State earned its initial first down, with 10:37 left in the second quarter, Arkansas had put together three scoring drives and scored on a blocked punt.
"First of all, their defensive front looks better than the one we faced last year," said New Mexico State coach Tony Samuel, whose Aggies lost to Arkansas 48-20 last season. "I know they had a bunch of young ones, but they penetrated the line of scrimmage really well and that took away some of the things we thought we'd have time to do."
Arkansas improved to 5-0 against New Mexico State and has won 22 straight nonconference games -- 21 under Nutt, who remains undefeated in seven season openers at the school.
The Aggies got on the scoreboard late in the second quarter when quarterback Buck Pierce hit Paul Dombrowski on the right sideline near the goal line for a 29-yard touchdown play. In the third quarter, Pierce threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Lawson.
Pierce was 16-of-21 for 159 yards and both New Mexico State scores. Justine Buries carried 12 times for 40 yards.
Jones and most of Arkansas' first-team offense sat out the majority of the second half. Jones was never sacked, but many of his rushing yards came as he scrambled from the pocket under pressure. Jones scored on a naked bootleg from the 2 -- loping at least 30 yards laterally as he ran for the left corner pylon.
Junior Carlos Ousley was Jones' favorite target, catching six passes for 47 yards.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-13||11-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||0-1|
|TD||7:57||PEYTON HILLIS 1 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 12 plays, 58 yards.
|TD||3:34||MATT JONES 2 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 52 yards.
|TD||12:50||DE'ARRIUS HOWARD 6 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 28 yards.
|TD||11:47||CHRIS HOUSTON 1 YD PUNT RETURN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)||0||28|
|TD||5:46||CHRIS BAKER 74 YD PASS FROM ROBERT JOHNSON (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 77 yards.
|TD||2:13||PAUL DOMBROWSKI 29 YD PASS FROM BUCK PIERCE (RYAN GUARDIA KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 64 yards.
|TD||0:17||MARCUS MONK 38 YD PASS FROM MATT JONES (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 71 yards.
|TD||13:53||PEYTON HILLIS 2 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 74 yards.
|TD||9:22||CEDRIC WASHINGTON 19 YD PASS FROM ROBERT JOHNSON (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 5 plays, 42 yards.
|TD||5:12||JEREMY LAWSON 8 YD PASS FROM BUCK PIERCE (BLOCKED XP)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 63 yards.
|TD||0:05||KYLE DICKERSON 4 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 31 yards.