12:30 PM ET, November 13, 2004
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- After struggling since September, Arkansas got it together and made it look easy against Mississippi.
Saturday's 35-3 win snapped a four-game losing streak and preserved a chance the Razorbacks (4-5, 2-4 Southeastern Conference) could qualify for a seventh straight bowl game if they win their last two games.
"I was so glad to see the guys smile in the locker room after the game," said coach Houston Nutt. "Today we had our best intensity with offense, defense and special teams. It was a big effort by everyone."
Matt Jones ran for 126 yards and a touchdown on five carries and passed for two more scores. One of Jones' runs -- for 72 yards -- was a career high. The senior was 11-of-16 through the air and was pulled from his last game in Fayetteville with a little over five minutes to go in the third quarter.
Junior tight end Jared Hicks also had a landmark game for Arkansas with the first two touchdowns of his career.
Ole Miss (3-6, 2-4) struggled through much of the game, turning the ball over on downs three times and losing a fumble. The loss put the Rebels out of contention for a bowl bid.
"We can't take anything away from Arkansas; they were outstanding. It's tough to put a finger on why we played so poorly," said coach David Cutcliffe. "There have been things all year long to plague us. We lacked consistency on both sides of the ball."
The Rebels played two quarterbacks, and they were the team leaders. Ethan Flatt was 11-of-21 for 126 yards and Robert Lane was the leading rusher with 94 yards on nine carries.
Arkansas scored on its first drive and led 14-0 at the end of the first period. Jones' longest run came on the first play of the second quarter.
From his own 28, Jones faked the pitch on an option, split two defenders as he turned upfield and outraced everyone down the right sideline for the score. He then dunked the ball over the goal post crossbar, drawing a celebration penalty.
"Everybody knows he's a playmaker. He had a great day," said Ole Miss defensive lineman Michael Bozeman. "We practiced against his scheme. We just didn't stop him."
Ole Miss trailed 28-3 at intermission, after finally getting on the scoreboard on the final play of the first half with a 33-yard field goal by Jonathan Nichols.
The Razorbacks' next two scores were courtesy of Hicks. The junior tight end, who had 10 career catches before the game, caught three passes, including touchdown receptions of 2 and 23 yards.
"It's great to throw my last TD pass in this stadium to Hicks, who is one of my closest friends," Jones said.
Both teams were plagued by penalties. Arkansas had eight for 60 yards; Ole Miss was flagged seven times for 48 yards.
Ole Miss' most serious threat came late in the fourth quarter when the Rebels drove to Arkansas' 16. But Lane made a bad option pitch that was fumbled and recovered by Dallas Washington, who returned it 10 yards for the Razorbacks.
"I do think, personally, some of our team gave up early on," said Rebel defensive lineman McKinley Boykin. "We have just got to keep playing at all times. We need to give our max."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||2-12||9-16|
|4th Down Conversions||0-3||1-1|
|TD||12:22||PEYTON HILLIS 1 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||1:42||DECORI BIRMINGHAM 11 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||14:48||MATT JONES 72 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 87 yards.
|TD||9:30||JARED HICKS 2 YD PASS FROM MATT JONES (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 49 yards.
|FG||0:00||JONATHAN NICHOLS 33 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||7:19||JARED HICKS 23 YD PASS FROM MATT JONES (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 65 yards.