Eagles prove to be Razorback treat
FAYETTEVILLE — On Homecoming evening in Fayetteville, it was Little Rock night for the Arkansas Razorbacks as central Arkansas natives Joe Adams and Broderick Green combined for four touchdowns as the Razorbacks dominated Eastern Michigan, 63-27.
The win moves Arkansas to 4-4 on the season and sends EMU to 0-8.
Adams returned to the lineup for the first time since his mild stroke earlier this year, and the sophomore had three catches for 109 yards and two touchdowns.
“It was a great feeling to be back out on the field today," Adams said. "I knew I was going to be back at some point, but it was just frustrating to have to see my teammates go through two tough games at Florida and Ole Miss.”
"It is good to have Joe back he is a special player and I cannot say enough about him," head coach Bobby Petrino said. "He was fast and fresh. It has been hard on him not being out there and he has been great with his attitude and been very alert. Our training staff did a great job."
Adams wasn’t cleared to return to play until Wednesday of this week.
“Coming back, I knew I wasn’t going to have any rust and that I would be in shape," Adams added. "I had been running a lot during my time out, but to get two touchdowns in today’s game felt great.”
Transfer sophomore Green turned in 131 yards in his first career start. Green touched the ball only eight times, but took two into the endzone.
Another Little Rock native, Seth Armbrust, added a late touchdown as he blocked an Eagle punt, then picked up the loose ball to score.
Arkansas was sharp from the opening play as the Razorbacks hit 11 straight passes and took control with a 21-0 first quarter lead.
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett had an exceptional game, with 14-of-16 comopletions for 248 yards and three toudhdowns. The redshirt sophomore also ran for 42 yards, all off scrambles.
"I thought Ryan executed real well," Petrino said. "It is the only game he has gone 11 for 11. He was focused and practiced hard all week."
For the night, Arkansas racked up over 500 yards while putting up the most points for a Bobby Petrino team at Arkansas.
The Razorbacks had 584 total yards, 292 on the ground and 292 in the air.
Following a disappointing game last week, Petrino went with several changes in the starting line-up. The Razorbacks were also playing without senior tailback Michael Smith.
The Razorback defense saw the most changes in starters, and responded with a complete shutout of Eastern Michigan for the first half. The Eagles could not manage a single first down, and put together only 39 yards on 20 plays.
Freddy Burton’s 50-yard interception return for a touchdown off EMU’s second drive allowed the Arkansas defense to single-handedly defeat the Eagles, at least for the opening 30 minutes.
The Razorback offense, however, made it a rout.
The first half featured five touchdowns, 11 consecutive pass completions to open the game and a pair of one-play touchdown drives.
Arkansas tookthe opening kickoff and drive 73 yards on eight plays with freshman Knile Davis closing the drive with a 36-yard run. A shanked punt by EMU put Arkansas in a short-field position, and afterh three plays the Razorbacks had a 14-0 lead.
Burton’s interception closed the first quarter with a 21-0 Razorback lead, but shortly after the start of the second Adams scored his first TD with a 10-yard reception from Mallett.
Following another three-and-out performance by the EMU offense, the Eagles got what appeared to be their first break of the game as a Zach Johnson punt rolled down to the Razorback one yard line.
Mallett handed off to Green, who broke through the line of scrimmage then hit another gear racing through the Eagles’ secondary. Green evaded pursuit near the Eagles’ 40, then broke for the goal line and a record-setting 99-yard score.
"We blocked well and our running backs did a nice job," Petrino said. "Broderick Green had a nice cut up the middle, Jarius Wright had a great hustle play."
It was only the second 90-yard or longer touchdown run in Razorback history, and exceeded the previous record of 90 yards set by Billy Moore against Tulsa back in 1962.
Arkansas won’t wait long for its next lightning strike as Mallett found a wide open Adams for a 78-yard touchdown reception. The back-to-back one-play touchdown drives made it 42-0 as the teams went to halftime.
The Razorback scoring spree reached 49 straight points after the Eagles’ first drive of the second half. Johnson set to punt, but three Razorbacks broke the Eagle protection, with Seth Armbrust making the block. The ball caroomed to the EMU 10, then bounced among Razorbacks before Armbrust scooped it up at the three and took it in for the score.
Eastern Michigan got both its first first down and its first score early in the third quarter. Kyle McMahon completed a pass for the initial first down at the 11:25 mark of the third, and marched the Eagles down the field for the score. McMahon hit Ben Thayer for the score. The PAT was blocked, but started a mild rally by the Eagles.
McMahon hit Kinsman Thomas for a 77-yard touchdown on EMU’s next possession. The Razorbacks responded by adding a three-play, 60-yard drive. A 55-yard near-touchdown strike from Mallett to Cobi Hamilton set the stage for Davis’ five-yard TD run.
Another long pass, this time a 35-yarder, allowed EMU another touchdown, which Arkansas countered with a five-play, 62-yard drive to take the score to 63-20.
Eastern Michigan’s Dwayne Priest was the Eagles’ workhorse, and finally scored on his 21st carry of the contest. The late 10-yard touchdown run closed out the scoring with 2:14 left.