NO. 23 TCU 28, ARKANSAS 7:

Worn down: Razorbacks offense stalls, defense sputters in loss to TCU

By: Tom Murphy
Published: Sunday, September 10, 2017
Arkansas tight end Austin Cantrell (44) reaches for an overthrown pass during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.
Photo by J.T. Wampler
Arkansas tight end Austin Cantrell (44) reaches for an overthrown pass during a game against TCU on Saturday, Sept. 9, 2017, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- After a crisp week of practice, the Arkansas Razorbacks thought they had an offensive game plan to take down No. 23 TCU again.

Instead, the Horned Frogs dominated in both trenches, repelled two drives inside the 5-yard line and pulled away late for a 28-7 victory before a crowd of 73,668 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in the Hogs' on-campus opener.

The Horned Frogs (2-0) avenged a 41-38 loss in double overtime to Arkansas last year and won in Fayetteville for the first time since the teams were Southwest Conference opponents in 1984.

TCU beat the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville (1-1) at its own game, outrushing the Razorbacks 195-129 and dominating time of possession 33:52 to 26:08 behind senior quarterback Kenny Hill.

"I think it really came down to wanting it more and executing, and I feel like they outwilled us," Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez said.

The Horned Frogs took 39 of their 73 offensive snaps in Arkansas territory, converted 10 of 14 third-down plays and limited the Razorbacks to 4 of 14 on third downs.

"I wish I had words to describe the way I feel and the way our guys feel," Arkansas Coach Bret Bielema said. "As coaches we've really got to self-assess what we're asking our guys to do, especially in the second half offensively, and figure out what we can do better, because obviously it didn't work."

The Arkansas defense notched a pair of turnovers -- a Ramirez interception and Briston Guidry's fumble recovery at the Arkansas 6 -- and held the score at 14-7 from midway through the second quarter until the Horned Frogs scored twice in a span of 14 seconds in the final 2:18.

"Credit to our defense because they kept us in that game. They played their tails off," said Arkansas quarterback Austin Allen, who couldn't get on the same page with his receivers for much of the game.

TCU took 11 of 17 offensive snaps in the the fourth quarter in Arkansas territory, including Sewo Olonilua's 13-yard touchdown run up the middle in the Wildcat formation on the first snap after Deon Stewart fumbled away a kickoff return.

"The fourth quarter, I don't know what happened," Ramirez said. "It felt like all hell broke loose. We focused on finishing, but there comes a point in time where you can't sit there and talk about it. It's time for action, and we've got to be about that action, and today we weren't."

Allen was held to 9-of-23 passing for 138 yards, including a 49-yard touchdown strike to Jonathan Nance that tied the game 7-7 in the first quarter.

"We've been practicing really well," Allen said. "Tuesday and Wednesday, I don't think we had one incomplete ball. It's just things didn't go the way we planned."

The Horned Frogs got consistent pressure against Allen in the passing game, notching three sacks, and clamped down on the run. The Razorbacks averaged 4.2 yards per carry, and that included a 26-yard run from David Williams and scrambles by Allen of 16 and 20 yards in the second half.

TCU Coach Gary Patterson was asked whether he was surprised the Horned Frogs controlled both sides of the line.

"You guys are surprised by this. That's why you're asking me those questions," Patterson said. "I'm not surprised by it. I've been telling you, but you haven't been listening."

TCU tailback Darius Anderson rushed for 106 yards and a 14-yard touchdown on 15 carries. Hill completed 21 of 31 passes for 166 yards, with no touchdowns and 1 interception.

"We need to come out and score some more points, but the defense played unbelievable," Hill said. "We've got a long way to go, but that was a big win. I love it."

The Razorbacks' futility in the red zone hearkened back to some of last year's struggles. Arkansas ran five plays from the TCU 5-yard line or closer and netted 1 yard. To compound the red-zone problem, kicker Cole Hedlund missed field goals from 23 and 20 yards early in the second and fourth quarters, respectively.

"It's very disappointing, especially after last year when we had those same kind of problems," Arkansas center Frank Ragnow said. "We stressed it so much in fall camp, in the offseason, in spring ball. To come up short is very disappointing, and we have to get it fixed."

TCU started at the Arkansas 45 on its first possession after the Hogs opened the game with a penalty on the kickoff return, a dropped pass by Jared Cornelius and a third-down sack. Hill converted a third-and-7 play with an 18-yard swing pass to Kyle Hicks, and Olonilua took a Wildcat snap in for a 1-yard score for the first of his two touchdowns.

Arkansas responded with a 75-yard touchdown drive, converting a third and 5 on Cheyenne O'Grady's 5-yard catch. After two runs by Williams netted 16 yards, Allen found Nance running alone on a bootleg pass for a 49-yard touchdown.

With the score tied 7-7, Ramirez picked off a deep Hill pass down the middle, and Arkansas drove 53 yards to the TCU 5. The drive at the end of the first quarter featured pass plays to tight ends Jeremy Patton and O'Grady for 32 and 20 yards, respectively.

But the Horned Frogs stiffened, stopping Devwah Whaley for no gain on second and 4, then forcing a throwaway by Allen on third down. On the first play of the second quarter, Hedlund pulled a 23-yard field goal wide left.

After Allen's 16-yard scramble converted a third and 14 late in the third quarter, Williams popped a 26-yard run, then Whaley broke free at left guard for a 13-yard gain to the 3. But the Horned Frogs stymied two Whaley runs for just 1 yard, then tight end Austin Cantrell caught Allen's third-down bootleg pass while standing on the back line out of bounds.

Many in the crowd booed when Bielema sent on the field goal unit, and the disappointment deepened when Hedlund's 20-yard try clanked off the left upright.

"It's a team sport," Allen said. "The offense has to finish in the red zone. That's our job. If we get the ball on the 2-yard line, we've got to finish."

Game sketch

RECORDS TCU 2-0; Arkansas 1-1

STARS TCU tailback Darius Anderson had 15 carries for 106 yards and a TD. ,

Arkansas receiver Jonathan Nance had 3 catches for 75 yards, with a 49-yard -

TD.

TURNING POINT TCU turned back Arkansas on three consecutive plays inside the Horned Frogs’ 3 spanning the third and fourth quarters, then Cole Hedlund missed his second chip shot. field goal of the day from 20 yards as the Horned Frogs preserved a 14-7 lead. KEY STATS TCU was 10 of 14 on thirddown conversions, while Arkansas was 4 of 14. The Horned Frogs won time of possession 33:52 to 26:08.

UP NEXT The Razorbacks have an open date before playing Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, on Sept. 23.

— Tom Murphy

Sports on 09/10/2017

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