Zero drama

By: Bob Holt
Published: Sunday, October 21, 2018
Arkansas defensive lineman Randy Ramsey (10) runs off the field with the ball after recovering a fumble during a game against Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Arkansas defensive lineman Randy Ramsey (10) runs off the field with the ball after recovering a fumble during a game against Tulsa on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Drama remained in the final seconds of the University of Arkansas' football game against Tulsa on Saturday.

Not about which team would win, but whether the Razorbacks would get a shutout.

Arkansas junior defensive end McTelvin Agim made sure the answer was yes.

With Tulsa facing fourth and 7 from the Arkansas 11, Agim sacked quarterback Seth Boomer for a 7-yard loss with 10 seconds left to punctuate the Razorbacks' 23-0 victory.

"I knew I needed to get some type of pressure on the quarterback," said Agim, a starter playing mostly with backups on the final defensive series. "We needed to go ahead and get off the field and complete the shutout.

"It was at a time where we needed it."

The shutout was especially timely for a defense trying to regain its footing after allowing a combined 1,250 yards the previous two games in losing to No. 1 Alabama 65-31 and Ole Miss 37-33.

"I've said it all year long that these guys have been our rock and the most consistent part of our football team," Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said of the defense. "They felt it, and they wish they could have some things back, but unfortunately you can't do that.

"All you can do is respond, and these guys responded really well this week."

Morris praised defensive coordinator John "Chief" Chavis for the preparation for Tulsa.

"Chief did a great job getting these guys ready to play, and we really challenged them all week long," Morris said. "So I was glad to see our defense step up today."

Arkansas had 6 sacks for 35 yards in losses, including 2 by Agim. Six Razorbacks were credited with at least a half-sack.

"It was a sack party for the defense, and it was just great to see," Razorbacks guard Hjalte Froholdt said.

Senior safety Santos Ramirez led Arkansas with 10 tackles and got a half-sack. Senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw had 9 tackles and a sack.

It was the first shutout for a Morris team in four seasons as a college head coach at SMU and Arkansas.

Previously, the fewest points allowed by a Morris team in college was in SMU's 31-13 victory over North Texas in 2015.

The last time Morris was the head coach of a team that recorded a shutout came on Oct. 30, 2009, when Lake Travis (Texas) High School beat Dripping Springs 52-0.

"A shutout is always great," Morris said. "It's really good when you can see it on those defensive kids' faces, because that's something you work really hard for.

"It's hard to shut anybody out. It really is. I'm just proud for our players and our coaching staff. That's really impressive to me."

Arkansas got its first shutout since 2014 when the Razorbacks beat LSU 17-0 and Ole Miss 30-0 in back-to-back SEC games.

Tulsa hadn't been blanked since a 45-0 loss to No. 12 Oklahoma in 2009. The Razorbacks became the first unranked team to shut out the Golden Hurricane since Navy's 29-0 victory in 2004.

"It was big," said Arkansas senior defensive tackle Armon Watts, who had a sack and forced a fumble. "It was definitely momentum for our defense. We've got to carry this with us and keep it up."

Tulsa, which came into the game averaging 381.2 yards and 24.3 points, was held to 260 yards by the Razorbacks. The Hurricane's previous scoring low this season came in a 31-17 loss to Temple.

"When you see those guys over on the sideline on that last play, you'd have thought that [Tulsa was] fixing to kick a game-winning field goal," Morris said of Agim's sack on the Hurricane's final snap. "They were wanting that shutout bad, so you celebrate for those guys."

Agim said Chavis "didn't do any crazy antics" after the game, but he was smiling.

"He told us he appreciates us," Agim said. "He kept it real simple."

Arkansas true freshman quarterback Connor Noland, making his first start, threw an interception on his first series to give Tulsa the ball at the Razorbacks' 23. The defense forced a field-goal attempt, and Nate Walker missed from 28 yards.

"One of our goals was to hold them to a field goal," Watts said. "Make a stand when you can. We put it on our backs to help the offense. I thought it was big."

Walker also missed a 42-yard field-goal attempt on Tulsa's second possession.

Agim, who had 3½ tackles for losses of 18 yards and 3 quarterback hurries, said the defense stresses responding after a turnover.

"Putting the fire out on sudden change," Agim said. "Whatever you do, you try to hold them to a field goal. Sometimes they miss the field goal. If you can hold them to three or fewer points. Just make sure they don't get seven."

Sports on 10/21/2018

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