7:00 PM ET, September 3, 2005
Razorback Stadium, FAYETTEVILLE, AR
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Felix Jones knew why his 80-yard touchdown run was so easy.
"I didn't believe it," said Jones, who scored on his second college carry in Arkansas' 49-17 win over Missouri State on Saturday night. "It was my very first touchdown -- a long run like that. All I can do is give credit to the line and my receivers that made the blocks."
Arkansas' highest rushing output in 30 years was a team effort. Peyton Hillis ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns, Jones had 137 yards and De'Arrius Howard added 120. The Razorbacks rushed for 483 yards, their most since running for 501 against Air Force in 1975.
Arkansas led 28-3 at halftime, but Division I-AA Missouri State made it 28-17 on an 86-yard touchdown run by P.J. Ikner in the third quarter. Hillis then scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards in the fourth.
"I don't even count those touchdowns," Hillis said. "(De'Arrius) Howard, he got the ball down there. He had some pretty good runs. I just wish that he could've got them, because they weren't mine."
Hillis also scored Arkansas' first touchdown with a 32-yard run in the first quarter. Freshman Darren McFadden had 70 yards on nine carries and his first college touchdown, a 3-yard run in the fourth.
Marcus Monk had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown for the Razorbacks, who shrugged off a sloppy start to win their ninth straight season-opener. Missouri State, known as Southwest Missouri State until changing its name last week, fell to 1-20 against Division I-A teams since moving to I-AA in 1982. The Bears beat UNLV in 1990.
"I'm happy the way our kids came out in the second half," Missouri State coach Randy Ball said. "We missed too many tackles on defense and turned the ball over way too much on offense. We just challenged our kids at halftime to show their character."
Missouri State's Jon Scifres began the game with a low kickoff that hit Arkansas' Freddie Fairchild near midfield and bounced straight back to Scifres. The strange carom gave the Bears possession and set the tone for a first half filled with turnovers.
Each team fumbled inside the other's 10 in the first quarter, and Missouri State lost two more fumbles in the period, one of which Darius Vinnett returned 44 yards for a touchdown to put Arkansas ahead 14-3.
Robert Johnson, making his first start at quarterback for the Razorbacks as Matt Jones' replacement, went 12-for-22 for 88 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Backups Alex Mortensen and Cole Barthel also played.
"I felt pretty comfortable, to tell you the truth," Johnson said. "I wasn't nervous -- I was confident in our team."
Hillis had two touchdowns in Arkansas' season-opener last year, 63-13 win over New Mexico State. Against Missouri State, he surpassed his career high of 66 yards rushing by the end of the first quarter.
He also lost two fumbles in the game, and Monk lost one in the second quarter.
"We've got to teach Peyton that there is nothing wrong with putting two hands on the ball when he is about to get tackled," coach Houston Nutt said. "Those fumbles stop our momentum and we can't do that."
The Razorbacks' running game more than made up for the turnovers. Jones made it 21-3 early in the second quarter -- the freshman ran around left end and breezed untouched for the score. Johnson found Monk for a 5-yard touchdown with 2 seconds remaining in the half.
Jones had 116 yards on his first three carries.
"We did a good job, but I am so upset about those fumbles because we worked so hard on not doing that," Nutt said. "Overall I am proud of our effort. We are 1-0, which was our goal and that is a good feeling."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||3-16||5-10|
|4th Down Conversions||2-4||1-2|
|FG||8:31||JON SCIFRES 29 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 18 yards.
|TD||4:51||PEYTON HILLIS 32 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 70 yards.
|TD||0:11||DARIUS VINNETT 44 YD DEFENSIVE FUMBLE RETURN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)||3||14|
|TD||12:41||FELIX JONES 80 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||0:02||MARCUS MONK 5 YD PASS FROM ROBERT JOHNSON (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 49 yards.
|TD||8:40||JEREMY NICHOLSON 6 YD PASS FROM SCOTT CARROLL (JON SCIFRES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||5:38||P.J. IKNER 86 YD RUN (JON SCIFRES KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||13:09||PEYTON HILLIS 1 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 53 yards.
|TD||10:31||PEYTON HILLIS 4 YD RUN (CHRIS BALSEIRO KICK)|
Drive info: 4 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||7:21||DARREN MCFADDEN 3 YD RUN (STEPHEN ARNOLD KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 55 yards.