Morris asks Hogs to keep improving

By: Bob Holt
Published: Monday, October 22, 2018
Chad Morris, Arkansas head coach, congratulates right tackle Brian Wallace and as players return to the bench after scoring an extra point in the 3rd quarter vs Tulsa Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.
Photo by Ben Goff
Chad Morris, Arkansas head coach, congratulates right tackle Brian Wallace and as players return to the bench after scoring an extra point in the 3rd quarter vs Tulsa Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, at Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE -- The Arkansas Razorbacks made sure they ended their losing streak and extended Tulsa's woes.

The Razorbacks were able to enjoy a locker room celebration for the first time in seven weeks after beating Tulsa 23-0 on Saturday.

"We knew that something was going to happen our way if we continued to get back up," University of Arkansas Coach Chad Morris said. "These guys did. I'm very, very proud of them."

The Razorbacks broke a six-game losing streak -- the longest for the program since a nine-game streak in 2013 -- and earned their first victory over a Football Bowl Subdivision team this season. They opened the season by beating Eastern Illinois 55-20.

"It definitely felt great to finally get another one on our win column," Arkansas senior defensive tackle Armon Watts said. "We're just going to try to keep moving forward."

Morris, who began his college career as Tulsa's offensive coordinator in 2010, evened his record as a head coach against the Hurricane at 2-2. He was 1-2 against Tulsa as SMU's coach.

"It's always good to win," Morris said. "You love winning. But it's so much about just how you respond. Win or lose, it's about our response. It's about us coming back in here tomorrow and getting better.

"This football team has to continue to improve."

Tulsa lost its sixth consecutive game since beating the University of Central Arkansas 38-27 to open the season, and it was the Golden Hurricane's most-lopsided loss of the season.

Like Arkansas, the Hurricane hadn't been able to hang onto fourth-quarter leads in some losses, but the Razorbacks left no doubt about Saturday's outcome.

"I think we played fundamentally great," senior guard Hjalte Froholdt said. "Our defense was lights out the whole game. Gave up a couple of big plays, but then quickly put out the fire.

"As a team, I think we played a really well-rounded game."

With true freshman quarterback Connor Noland making his first start -- and playing in his second game -- because Ty Storey was sidelined by a concussion, the Razorbacks relied on their defense and a ball-control running game.

"Our starting quarterback got hurt, we've got a freshman in, and everyone rallied around him," Froholdt said. "We have a feeling now we can still win games and we don't have to blow up a lead."

Noland threw an interception on Arkansas' first series, but didn't have another turnover He completed 10 of 16 passes for 124 yards -- including a 7-yard touchdown pass to tight end Grayson Gunter -- and rushed 5 times for 20 yards.

"I thought he did some good things," Tulsa Coach Philip Montgomery said. "He has a lively arm."

The Razorbacks avoided breakdowns in any phases that could get them beat.

"It was good to see us work in tandem with each other," Morris said. "That's what you want."

Arkansas crushed any hope of a Tulsa rally by holding the ball for 9:39 and driving 74 yards in 16 plays, capped by Connor Limpert's 24-yard field goal to push its lead to 23-0 with 1:20 left.

Tulsa helped keep the drive alive with a roughing the punter penalty and backup quarterback Cole Kelley twice ran for first downs.

"To be able to take that last drive and burn a lot of time off the clock, I thought that was big," Morris said. "It was a combination of getting Cole in there and running and creating some first downs.

"When you work together like that and your special teams are playing well, good things happen."

Arkansas' defense had 8 tackles for losses totaling 42 yards, 5 pass breakups and 4 quarterback hurries.

"I don't think another team deserved to win more than us," Razorbacks junior defensive end McTelvin Agim said. "Like Coach Morris said it was going to take something deep down in us to keep fighting and get this win."

Arkansas (2-6, 0-4 SEC) plays Vanderbilt (3-5, 0-4) in another 11 a.m. kickoff Saturday at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The Commodores come in after losing 14-7 at Kentucky.

"Obviously, everybody was real excited about this one," Noland said of beating Tulsa. "I think you just try to get on a roll. You get one under your belt and then it starts to help out for the next game.

"So I think we have good momentum going into this next game. Just a really big shift in the locker room."

Sports on 10/22/2018

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