Bob Holt is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Missouri, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy, Biletnikoff Award and AP Top 25 basketball poll. Holt was awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year in 2000 and 2015.
No ‘buts’ this time
Razorbacks’ Hamilton finally gets to celebrate
Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton (11) tries to fend off Tulsa defender Mitchell Osborne as he runs for 19 yards in the third quarter of Saturday’s game at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas receiver Cobi Hamilton has finally had a record-setting game this season he could enjoy.
Hamilton is the Razorbacks’ single-season record-holder with 69 receptions after making 11 catches for 177 yards to help Arkansas beat Tulsa 19-15 on Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Earlier this season, Hamilton set SEC and Arkansas records with 303 yards on 10 receptions and tied the school record with 3 touchdown catches against Rutgers, but the Razorbacks lost 35-26. Then he had 11 catches for 162 yards the next week at Texas A&M to become the Razorback with the most receiving yards (465) in back-to-back games, but Arkansas lost 58-10.
Last week, Hamilton had a career-best 12 catches for 146 yards against Ole Miss and became the first Razorback to have three games with 10 or more catches in his career, but Arkansas lost 30-27.
There was no “but” to ruin Hamilton’s game Saturday.
“Everything’s fun and everybody’s happy,” Hamilton said. “The locker room is happy. It’s fun for me to go home and enjoy it with my teammates. It’s just a great day.”
Hamilton came up especially big on Arkansas’ game-winning drive, turning and grabbing a Tyler Wilson pass for a 41-yard gain to the Tulsa 15, then catching a pass over the middle and taking it 14 yards to set up Dennis Johnson’s 1-yard that put the Razorbacks ahead 19-15 with 10:08 to play.
“Just competing,” Hamilton said. “That’s really what it comes down to, who wants to make a play. In that kind of situation at that point in the game, it was big time.”
Hamilton, who won the Crip Hall Award for the outstanding performance by an Arkansas senior at homecoming, came into Saturday’s game fourth on Arkansas’ list for receptions in a season with 58. He passed D.J. Williams (61 in 2008), J.J. Meadors (62 in 1995) and finally Jarius Wright, who had 66 receptions last season.
Hamilton said he didn’t know he’d broken Wright’s record until offensive coordinator Paul Petrino congratulated him after the game.
“I was like, ‘What record?’ ” Hamilton said. “He told me I’d broken Jarius’ receptions record and said, ‘Good job, now let’s go get the yards record.’
“Hopefully, we can get that next week and finish the season well.”
Wright has 1,077 receiving yards this season, 40 shy of Wright’s Arkansas record of 1,177 set last season.
“Cobi’s had a great year and he just keeps improving,” Petrino said. “He really tries to carry the team. He’s the one guy with a lot of experience that’s left to throw to, and I’m just really proud of him.”
Hamilton said he would share a laugh later with Wright, a rookie with the Minnesota Vikings, about breaking his record.
“It means a lot as far as a personal goal, but the big thing was getting the win,” Hamilton said.
Wilson said it’s vital for a quarterback to find a goto receiver he can trust. Last season it was Wright. Now it’s Hamilton.
“You’ve got to have a guy you go to when it’s crunch time, and he’s done an incredible job,” Wilson said of Hamilton. “I think he’s one of the best receivers in the country.”
Saturday was the fourth time in the past five games that Wilson has thrown to Hamilton on the Razorbacks’ first offensive snap. They connected for a 19-yard gain to get Arkansas going on a 75-yard touchdown drive.
“I heard the [Tulsa] coaches saying on the sideline, ‘It’s coming to you. It’s coming over here,’ ” Hamilton said with a laugh. “I was like, ‘Yeah, it is.’
“You can know it’s coming, but you’ve still got to defend it and you’ve still got to make the play.”
Petrino smiled when he learned Hamilton didn’t know he’d broken Wright’s record Saturday until being told about it after the game.
“It’s good he’s more worried about us winning than worried about the records,” Petrino said. “It’s all about winning and losing, so he can’t be jumping up and being happy about a record when we lose a game.
“So it was good today that he breaks the season record and gets to be happy about it because we won.”
Sports, Pages 34 on 11/04/2012