Matt Jones has been the online sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette since 2010. He is also a feature writer for Hawgs Illustrated magazine and is currently pursuing a Masters degree in journalism.
Allen leads Arkansas to opening win
Bielema era begins # 1-0
Brandon Allen calls out plays Saturday, Aug. 31, 2013 during the fourth quarter of the game against Louisiana at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
FAYETTEVILLE Bret Bielema's one game at a time mantra yielded desired results in his opener as the head coach of Arkansas.
Behind a balanced offensive attack, the Razorbacks wore down Louisiana-Lafayette on one of the hottest days of the year, beating the Ragin' Cajuns 34-14 in front of 69,801 fans Saturday at Razorback Stadium.
Making his second career start, Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen complemented an impressive rushing attack to pass for 230 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Fayetteville native had touchdown passes of 6 and 49 yards to Javontee Herndon in the first half as the Razorbacks built a 20-7 halftime lead.
Allen was aided by running backs Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins, often working off play-action as the defense crowded the line of scrimmage to stop the run. The duo became the first pair of Razorbacks to rush for at least 100 yards each since Darren McFadden and Felix Jones in 2007.
Williams, who had left the game in the second quarter with an apparent shoulder injury, used good downfield blocking from Herndon and Nate Holmes for a 75-yard touchdown run in the third quarter to extend the Razorbacks' lead to 34-14.
Williams rushed for a career-high 151 yards and the touchdown. Collins added 131 yards, becoming the first player since Jones in 2005 to rush for at least 100 yards in his debut.
Arkansas (1-0) achieved the balanced offensive stats its coach preached in the off-season. The Razorbacks passed for 230 yards and rushed for 294 yards, outgaining the Ragin' Cajuns' offense 524-283.
Arkansas rushed seven consecutive times to open the game, netting 57 yards. Allen capped the drive with a 6-yard touchdown pass to Herndon, giving the Hogs a 7-0 lead.
After driving inside the Arkansas 10 and missing a field goal on its opening drive, Lafayette tied the game with a 2-yard touchdown run by Alonzo Harris early in the second quarter. Allen responded with a 49-yard scoring pass to Herndon off play-action five plays later to give the Razorbacks the lead for good.
Zach Hocker booted a pair of field goals from 22 and 35 yards to give Arkansas a 20-7 halftime lead. Hocker became the school's career scoring leader with 295 points. He didn't play in the second half.
After a fumble gave Lafayette prime field position near midfield early in the second half, Arkansas' defense forced a fumble to set up the Razorbacks' next score. Trey Flowers' sack of Terrance Broadway was one of four in the quarter for Arkansas, including three in the Ragin' Cajuns' first five plays.
Allen's third touchdown was 10 yards to Kiero Small. After Lafayette responded quickly with an 11-yard scoring pass from Broadway to Jacob Maxwell, Williams capped the scoring with his long touchdown run.
Arkansas won its season opener for the seventh consecutive season and improved to 5-0 all-time against Lafayette. The Ragin' Cajuns fell to 0-37 all-time against Southeastern Conference teams.
The Razorbacks will play next week against Samford at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium. That game is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m.