Agim, Watts lead Hogs to first shutout since 2014

By: Scottie Bordelon
Published: Saturday, October 20, 2018
Arkansas defenders tackle Tulsa running back Corey Taylor II (24) during the first quarter of a football game, Saturday, October 20, 2018 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Charlie Kaijo
Arkansas defenders tackle Tulsa running back Corey Taylor II (24) during the first quarter of a football game, Saturday, October 20, 2018 at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

— Arkansas junior defensive lineman McTelvin Agim on more than one occasion Saturday said no team deserved a win more than the Razorbacks, who entered Week 8 on a six-game losing streak.

And perhaps no Arkansas defensive player played a bigger role in slowing Tulsa's offense, ranked 32nd in the FBS in rushing, and recording the Razorbacks' first shutout since the 2014 season than Agim. Arguably John Chavis' most NFL-ready player, Agim finished the game with a season-high seven tackles and a career-high 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks.

He is the first Arkansas player to finish with two-plus sacks in a game since defensive end Deatrich Wise did against Missouri in 2015.

"We continue to fight each week no matter how close," Agim said. "We keep working and like Coach (Chad) Morris said, it was going to take something deep down in us to keep fighting and get this win. We stayed focused and I think that's what we did today."

Chavis, to open Tulsa week, told media members he was looking forward to the day when he can enter the interview room with a smile on his face. Agim said Chavis did just that in the Arkansas locker room following the 23-0 win over the Golden Hurricane. It was the first shutout Chavis has been a part of since Texas A&M blanked Prairie View A&M 67-0 in 2016.

It was Arkansas' first shutout since a 30-0 win over Ole Miss in 2014.

On Tulsa's first possession of the game, Agim recorded a tackle for loss at the Arkansas 12 then tallied his first quarterback hurry on Golden Hurricane quarterback Seth Boomer. The forced incompletion led to the first of two misses by Tulsa kicker Nate Walker.

Agim and Michael Taylor teamed up for a sack early in the second quarter, and more pressure from Agim in the closing seconds of the first half led to cornerback Ryan Pulley's third interception of the season. Boomer struggled throughout the game, completing just 8 of 25 passes for 127 yards and the pick. Ninety-seven of his 127 passing yards came on two completions, including a 65-yard strike to receiver Keylon Stokes with just more than one minute to play.

While Agim had one of his better individual performances of his Arkansas career, senior Armon Watts made his presence felt with four tackles and a strip sack in the third quarter. Randy Ramsey recovered the fumble and Connor Limpert later added a 35-yard field goal to extend the Razorbacks' lead to 13-0.

Watts, who did not record a single sack in his first three seasons at Arkansas, has a team-high five this season to go with three forced fumbles. For his play against Tulsa, he was named the Crip Hall Award winner, given to the most outstanding senior on Homecoming.

"I don’t think words can really describe it," Watts said. "In my opinion you’ve got to believe in yourself before anybody believes in you. You’ve got to put it in the work. I had to keep my head down and work and it’s paying off. It’s like a dream every day that I wake up.

"You’ve got to keep learning and you’ve got to keep getting better."

Arkansas coach Chad Morris was complimentary of his defense following the win, calling the unit the team's "rock" of late. Linebacker Dre Greenlaw and Briston Guidry, in his first action since playing Texas A&M, each totaled a sack in the win as well.

Morris said Arkansas' defensive front did a poor job getting off blocks in early going, but he brought that to his players' attention and was proud of the way they answered the call.

"We felt like we could play a little bit better," Morris said. "It's like everything else, it's contagious. They feed off each other and when one guy gets a big play then the next one wants one. They do a great job, and when they work in sync like that, it's a credit to those guys continuing to respond to what we challenge them with."

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