Mallett leads record-setting night
FAYETTEVILLE — The Arkansas Razorbacks got bowl eligible with a night filled with record performances in a 56-20 drubbing of Troy University at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
The win moved Arkansas to 6-4 on the season while Troy falls to 7-3.
Head coach Bobby Petrino is now set to take Arkansas into a bowl in his second year with the Razorbacks, but he was characteristically focused after the win tonight.
"We’re happy about that, but now it’s time to win the next game," Petrino said. "We’re focused on Mississippi State."
Sophomore quarterback Ryan Mallett tied his own school record with five touchdown passes, and did so in style by hitting five different receivers for the scores.
The sophomore threw for 405 yards, three shy of his career best, hitting 23-of-30 with one interception to mar his night.
Mallett also claimed the school records for consecutive attempts without an interception before that one miscue, and broke Clint Stoerner’s single-season passing record. He also tied Stoerner with his fourth 300-plus passing game of the season.
"We’ll look at the records when the year is over with," Petrino said. "They are great for the individual and good for recruiting."
In claiming the single season passing mark at Arkansas during the game, Mallett connected with Joe Adams, Greg Childs, D.J. Williams, Jarius Wright and Ronnie Wingo, Jr. He now has 2,882 yards on the season with two regular season games left to play.
"We got a lot of guys involved, and we showed a lot of speed out there," Petrino said. "Ryan looked at the defense and distributed the ball to our playmakers. It’s good to have so many playmakers and it makes it easy."
Wingo had a pair of touchdowns, one rushing and one off an 83-yard reception, as the Razorbacks had touchdowns in every quarter.
The Razorbacks buried the Sun Belt leaders (6-0 in SBC play) with 581 yards of total offense.
While offense got a lot of attention, a hallmark of the game was Arkansas defense, three times ending Troy drives into Razorback territory with field goal attempts, only two of which were good. The Razorbacks were playing without their defensive coordinator, Willy Robinson, who was taken to the hospital from the Broyles Center on Friday. He did not coach tonight’s game, and remained at the hospital being treated for an infection.
"We dedicated the game to Coach Robinson," Petrino said. "We got the word that he’s home now and doing good. Kind of a scary day on Friday, and happy things are good there."
The Trojans made it interesting at the end of the first half with a drive ending in a field goal just before halftime, then another field goal to open the second half.
The difference was Arkansas matched Troy three-pointers with touchdowns. Mallett methodically picked apart the Trojans for a five-play, 80-yard drive on Arkansas’ first possession of the third quarter, going to Williams for the final 28 yards and a 35-13 lead.
The Trojans put together their first touchdown drive of the second half midway through the third, reaching into the bag of tricks for a Wildcat formation reverse that ends in wide receiver Jonathan Chandler’s hands for a pass complete for a 17-yard touchdown to Andrew Davis to cut the spread to 35-20.
Mallett matched the Troy score with yet another 80-yard drive, this one six plays ending with a nine-yard touchdown pass to Wright. It started with a 46-yard run by Johnson from running back, and a punishing run later inside the Troy Red Zone to set the nine-yard TD.
"Ryan showed a lot of toughness," Petrino said. "They hit him hard a few times, they stepped on his hand once. He had his best game of operating the game under center of the year. Ryan did a nice job of getting us out of bad plays into good plays."
Matt Harris ended the longest streak without an interception with only the second pick of his career. The senior spied out Levi Brown on the Trojans’ third drive, ending the nation’s longest streak at 265 and just a handful shy of the NCAA record for consecutive flawless passing.
Harris interception briefly gave the nation’s longest active streak as he broke the Arkansas season mark of Stoerner, but a Troy pick ended his streak at 141 late in the second quarter.
In addition to Mallett’s passing marks, Dennis Johnson’s 37-yard run back on the second kickoff of the game by Troy made him the all-time leader in kickoff returns. Senior Michael Smith got his 2,000th career rushing yard early in the first quarter, and closed with 21 on the day to move his overall to 2,018 yards.
Mallett opened the game with the first of his 80-yard drives. The 10-play march ended with a 23-yard touchdown rifled through the Troy secondary to Adams.
Arkansas picked up its second TD off a one-yard run for Green to cap an 11-play, 55-yard drive to put the Razorbacks up 14-0 at 6:13 in the first quarter.
After managing only 29 yards on its first three drives, Troy came alive for a 10-play, 69-yard drive and the first touchdown of the night for the Trojans, a three-yard pass from Brown to Jason Bruce. Arkansas responded with a pair of short drives, the first for 58-yards and capped with a 16-yard run by Wingo. The next was four plays ending with Mallett’s second TD of the night, this one a 13 yarder to Childs.
Arkansas finished out the game with an 83-yard screen reception for a TD by Wingo after stopping the Trojans on downs in the fourth quarter.
Place kicker Alex Tejada tied the career record for point after attempts with his 125th following Wingo’s late touchdown.
On the night, Wright led the Razorbacks in catches with five for 67 yards, but Wingo had the yardage lead with his single 83 yarder. Adams finished with four catches for 74 yards, and Williams also four for 62. Childs had three for 37.
Johnson led Arkansas’ rushing with 58 yards on four carries, while Green led with eight carries to produce his 45 yards. Smith had six carries for 21 yards.