Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A two-time graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Biletnikoff Award.
Tigers too much
Arkansas drops season opener 45-21
Auburn quarterback Nick Marshall pushes past Arkansas defender Josh Liddell to score a touchdown in the third quarter of a game Saturday, Aug. 30, 2014 at Jordan-Hare Stadium in Auburn, Ala.
AUBURN, Ala. Arkansas stayed close for a while, but No. 6 Auburn pulled away for a 45-21 win Saturday at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
The Tigers outscored the Razorbacks 24-0 in the second half after the game was tied at halftime. The game, which was delayed 88 minutes because of lightning early in the fourth quarter, was Arkansas' program-record 10th straight loss overall and 13th straight loss in Southeastern Conference play.
Auburn (1-0) took the lead for good on a 19-yard touchdown run by quarterback Nick Marshall early in the third quarter. Jermaine Whitehead returned an interception thrown by Brandon Allen 33 yards for a touchdown later in the quarter to give the Tigers a 35-21 lead.
Daniel Carlson kicked a 45-yard field goal just before the weather delay to extend the Tigers' lead to 38-21 and Corey Grant scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:15 remaining in the game.
Auburn's defense held Arkansas to only 61 yards of total offense in the second half, including only 2 yards rushing. The Razorbacks ran for 151 yards before halftime.
Arkansas trailed by as much as 21-7 in the first half, but the Razorbacks scored twice in the second quarter to tie the game 21-21 at halftime.
Allen's 17-yard touchdown pass to tight end AJ Derby pulled Arkansas within 21-14 with 11:06 left in the second quarter and the Razorbacks tied the game on a 6-yard touchdown run by Jonathan Williams with 4:28 left before halftime.
Even with Marshall, the starting quarterback, suspended for the first half, Auburn started fast behind the play of its backup quarterback Jeremy Johnson. The Tigers scored on touchdown drives of 75, 75 and 98 yards in their first three possessions to take a 21-7 lead.
Johnson threw touchdown passes of 49 yards to Melvin Ray and 18 yards to Duke Williams in the first half, and completed 12 of 16 passes for 243 yards. Williams had 9 catches for 154 yards.
Cameron Artis-Payne led the Tigers with 178 yards on 26 carries, and scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 4:01 remaining in the first quarter.
Auburn had 595 yards total offense - 302 rushing and 293 passing.
Allen completed 18 of 31 passes for 175 yards for the Razorbacks and threw two touchdowns in addition to the interception. Arkansas answered Auburn's first score with a quick one of its own, capped with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Hunter Henry.
Alex Collins had 10 carries for 68 yards to lead Arkansas' rushing attack.
The Razorbacks will host Nicholls State next Saturday at Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.