Sanders, Arkansas roll past uninspired Rebels
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — No. 14 Ole Miss was pummeled early by Arkansas Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
That’s putting it kindly.
Arkansas running back Rocket Sanders rushed for 232 yards and three touchdowns, leading the Razorbacks to a 42-27 win over Ole Miss.
Ole Miss fell to 8-3 overall and 4-3 in the Southeastern Conference. Arkansas improved to 6-5 overall and 3-4 in the league.
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson was 17-for-22 passing for 168 yards and three touchdowns. Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart completed 21 of 36 passes for 240 yards,. a touchdown and an interception. Freshman running back Quinshon Judkins was once again terrific, rushing for 214 yards and a touchdown. Zach Evans added 207 yards rushing and a score of his own.
Ole Miss finished with 703 total yards, with 394 of those coming in the second half.
Jefferson connected with Matt Landers capping a seven-play, 68-yard drive to give Arkansas an early 7-0 lead with 8:28 left in the first quarter.
The Razorbacks were just getting started.
Ole Miss appeared to counter with a touchdown drive of its own. However, a fourth-and-nine, 33-yard touchdown throw from Dart to Dayton Wade was negated by a holding penalty called on offensive tackle Micah Pettus.
Arkansas made the Rebels pay for the holding penalty, answering with an eight-play, 73-yard touchdown drive. It was Jefferson and Landers connecting on the scoring play, this time a 23-yard throw into the end zone to extend the Razorbacks’ lead to 14-0 with 3:44 left in the opening quarter.
Jonathan Cruz got Ole Miss on the board with two minutes left in the first quarter with a 45-yard field goal.
Arkansas’ offensive onslaught continued. Jefferson connected with Ketron Jackson Jr. on a 20-yard touchdown pass, capping a seven-play, 75-yard drive to extend the Hogs’ lead to 21-3.
Another potential Ole Miss touchdown was called back in the second quarter for holding, this time on left tackle Jayden Williams. The Rebels were forced to settle for a 32-yard Cruz field goal, cutting Arkansas’ lead to 21-6 with 4:38 left before halftime.
Arkansas answered the field goal with another touchdown. This time, it was on the ground. Sanders just punished the Rebels on the drive, finally capping it with a 20-yard touchdown run off the left side to push the Hogs’ lead to 28-6 with 2:20 left in the half.
Dart was intercepted by Arkansas linebacker Drew Sanders on Ole Miss’ next possession, giving the Razorbacks the football at the Rebels’ 48 with 1:07 left in the half.
Arkansas made the Rebels pay, using six plays and all but five seconds before Sanders scored from eight yards out to push the Razorbacks’ lead to 35-6 at halftime.
Arkansas wasted no time sending a second-half message. The Razorbacks needed just two plays to extend its lead to 42-3. Sanders’ 68-yard run, one in which the Ole Miss defense split like a gulf, turned Reynolds Razorback into a party and left the Rebel fans in the corner wondering just what had happened.
Judkins scored from one yard out with 14:02 left. The two-point conversion attempt failed, cutting Arkansas’ lead to 42-12.
Zach Evans added a 48-yard touchdown run with 8:02 left. Dart’s 2-point pass to Jonathan Mingo cut Arkansas’ lead to 42-20.
The Rebels scored one final time with 2:55 left, getting a 13-yard pass from Dart to Malik Heath to close to within 42-27.
Ole Miss will return home Thursday night to close out the regular season with the annual Egg Bowl game against Mississippi State. Arkansas closes out its regular season Friday at Missouri.
— Judkins set the single-season rushing record Saturday, breaking a record Kayo Dottley had held since 1949.