Arkansas overcomes injuries to defeat MississippiBy KURT VOIGT, AP Sports Writer Sunday, Oct 24, 2010
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP)—Ryan Mallett was on the sidelines for the second time in two weeks and Mississippi just wouldn’t go away.
This time, Arkansas didn’t suffer a fourth-quarter collapse.
The 21st-ranked Razorbacks (5-2, 2-2 SEC) instead overcame the loss of their starting quarterback and two top receivers to beat Ole Miss and former coach Houston Nutt at his own game: running the football.
The result was a 38-24 win Saturday, delivered by the legs of Razorbacks running back Knile Davis. The sophomore, who entered the game with the dubious distinction of leading the SEC’s worst rushing attack, ran for a career-best 176 yards and three touchdowns.
“I was proud of the fact that we finished the game running the ball,” Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. “Knile obviously did a great job running the football, and our offensive line did really well.”
Davis ran for 114 of his yards in the fourth quarter when Ole Miss (3-4, 1-3) twice closed within a touchdown the Razorbacks. Both times, he answered touchdowns with scores of his own, including a 71-yard burst through the heart of the Ole Miss defense and eventually down the left sideline that put Arkansas ahead 31-17 with 11:11 remaining.
Arkansas outgained the Rebels, who entered the game second in the SEC in rushing, 197-185 on the ground. The Razorbacks gained 114 of those yards in the fourth quarter, all by Davis.
His 100-yard effort was the first for an Arkansas runner since Broderick Green ran for 134 in a win over Eastern Michigan last season. It’s the third straight game Davis has rushed for a career high, the fourth time this season. The 22 carries were also a career high for Davis.
“I’ll probably be a little sore, but that is a good thing,” Davis said. “It won’t feel so bad with a win.”
His strong second half took any pressure off Arkansas’ SEC-leading passing attack, which was held to 207 yards in its first game after Mallett sustained a concussion against Alabama.
The Razorbacks played much of the game without leading receivers Greg Childs and Joe Adams, who left the game with ankle injuries. Mallett threw for 196 of those yards before leaving in the third quarter with a bruised throwing shoulder.
Petrino said Mallett, who left in the first half of last weeks 65-43 loss, was hurt on a hit early in the third quarter, moments before the first of two lightning delays in the second half.
The junior warmed up after the first delay, which lasted 58 minutes, but Petrino said the decision to sit Mallett had already been made at that point and his warming up was a way to disguise the injury from Ole Miss.
“I think he landed on it, and when we came off the field (for the first delay), he went in and saw the doctors and there’s no damage or anything like that,” Petrino said. “But he had lost strength in his arm.”
The Rebels’ Allen Walker intercepted Mallett’s first pass of the game, giving Ole Miss possession at the Arkansas 28. However, Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette sacked Ole Miss quarterback Jeremiah Masoli on third down, causing a fumble that Jerico Nelson recovered to keep the game scoreless.
The Razorbacks went up 7-0 five plays later when Davis rushed for his first touchdown, and the missed early chance was on Nutts mind following the loss.
“We’ve been a team like this all year. We had too many missed opportunities,” Nutt said. “When you get an opportunity like the interception in the first quarter, you have to take advantage of it and get them down.
“We’ve been consistent at doing that were we don
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