Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a past president and member of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
LIKE IT IS:
Hogs prevail; kudos heaped on Hamilton
FAYETTEVILLE On a beautiful, sunny Saturday, a picture-perfect day for football, the Arkansas Razorbacks survived what could have turned into a dismal day.
They found a way to win a football game in the fourth quarter and avoided their fifth home loss, 19-15.
It was a victory against a pretty good Tulsa team, one that is definitely better than Auburn and Kentucky.
In the final analysis, the Golden Hurricane could not find an answer for Cobi Hamilton, who had consecutive catches of 41 and 14 yards to give the Razorbacks first-andgoal at the 1 with slightly more than 10 minutes to play.
From there Dennis Johnson, who also was outstanding, bulled his way into the end zone, although the officials missed it until a review was demanded by interim head Coach John L. Smith.
The stadium replay clearly showed Johnson scored, but it took almost four minutes for the review official to correct the embarrassing mistake.
The final outcome, however, was not decided until there were 41 seconds left when Tulsa suffered its only turnover of the game, a fumble that Byran Jones recovered at the Golden Hurricane 15.
A large part of the homecoming crowd of 64,451 were on hand to celebrate a game that teetered toward disaster much of the time.
Arkansas gained 141 yards and jumped out to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter, but the Hogs had 17 yards in the second quarter and 92 in the third and trailed 15-13 going into the last period.
Tulsa had not run a screen pass all season, until Saturday, and the next time the Razorbacks defense stops a screen pass will be the first.
It was obvious the Golden Hurricane took note of how successful Ole Miss was with screen passes, once running four in a row successfully.
No doubt Steve Spurrier, who is struggling with his quarterback play, will have South Carolina practicing screen passes this week.
A loss Saturday would have officially made this season a disaster, but with three games remaining the 4-5 Hogs have not been mathematically eliminated from a postseason bowl.
That is really up to them at this point.
A loss also would have meant that Athletic Director Jeff Long would need to win the news conference when he announces the new head coach, which is expected to happen in December.
While a hearty crowd showed up for the 11:21 a.m. kickoff — a spot reserved for lower-tier SEC teams — there were dozens and dozens of empty parking spaces in the lots reserved for Broyles-Mathews donors, which is the highest level of giving to the program.
Surviving Tulsa doesn’t take away the bad taste of a season that was highly anticipated but has become one that is barely being endured by many.
Tulsa is good, but it was not an inspired effort that allowed the Hogs to escape.
The Razorbacks got a punt return to the Tulsa 30, managed 1 yard and kicked a field goal.
Too many times it seemed they were about to take the momentum and a drive would fizzle after 50 yards.
It also should be pointed out that Tulsa hurt itself on numerous occasions. The Golden Hurricane fumbled four times, and even though they recovered three of those, the bobbles killed drives. The Golden Hurricane also missed one extra point, had another blocked, and had a first-and-10 at the Razorbacks 11 but settled for a field goal after three consecutive incomplete passes.
Yet, without Hamilton, who was named the winner of the Crip Hall Award, given to the outstanding senior of the homecoming game, it might not have happened.
His 11 catches for 177 yards were all big, his yards after catch were huge, and the new single-season record holder with 69 receptions accounted for 6 of the Hogs’ 18 first downs and had everything to do with the Razorbacks surviving Tulsa.
Sports, Pages 25 on 11/04/2012