Tom Murphy is a reporter for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of Louisiana Tech University, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America, and voter for the Heisman Trophy and AP Top 25 football poll. Murphy was the 2017 Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year.
Call rubs Hogs' QB wrong way
Arkansas quarterback Ty Storey throws a pass during a game against Mississippi State on Saturday, Nov. 17, 2018, in Starkville, Miss.
FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas had a touchdown called back on a critical offensive pass interference call when the Hogs had a chance to pull within one score early in the second half during Saturday's 52-6 loss at No. 21 Mississippi State.
The Razorbacks had driven 68 yards to the Mississippi State 6 on the first possession of the third quarter, thanks mostly to La'Michael Pettway's catch over safety Mark McLaurin down the left sideline for a 47-yard gain.
On third and 4 from the Bulldogs' 6, Deon Stewart came in motion left to right across the formation and ran an out-breaking route as Pettway, who lined up in the slot right, ran inside. His rub route took his man and sealed off safety C.J. Morgan.
Stewart caught the pass from Ty Storey and scored easily but the officiating crew threw a penalty flag on Pettway.
The Razorbacks wound up settling for Connor Limpert's 32-yard field goal to pull within 17-6, when the touchdown could have made it a 17-10 game.
Arkansas Coach Chad Morris did not comment on the call.
"I haven't seen it," Morris said. "My view was obstructed. I just saw what was on the Jumbotron."
Storey had a stronger opinion.
"I saw my guy get open," Storey said. "I don't know. A lot of people have that play in their playbook and I don't know how we decide when to call it and when not to.
"I don't know. I'm not an official, so I can't make that call. But ... they've got to call it all the time or not call it at all. One of the two."
Up and over
Rakeem Boyd provided one of the best highlight-reel runs of the season for the Razorbacks during a field-goal drive in the second quarter.
The Razorbacks had just moved the chains on Boyd's 4-yard run to the Arkansas 41 yard line when he got the call again on a pitch play. Boyd broke clean off right tackle and was nearing first-down distance when defensive back Jamal Peters came at him and began lowering for a tackle. Boyd leaped cleanly over the 6-2 cornerback and got a couple of more yards before Johnathan Abrams and Tim Washington brought him down on the 13-yard run.
Mississippi State's only turnover against Arkansas came from its defense during a wild two-fumble sequence in the second quarter.
The craziness began when Johnathan Abrams hit quarterback Ty Storey on a strip-sack, recovered the loose ball and began heading toward the end zone. Abrams got a couple of yards before tailback Devwah Whaley hammered him, jarring the ball loose. Arkansas receiver Mike Woods and offensive guard Johnny Gibson both dove for the loose ball and Gibson wound up snatching it away from linebacker Leo Lewis for a recovery at the Arkansas 30.
De'Vion Warren's 71-yard kickoff return in the fourth quarter was the second-longest of the season for the Razorbacks and the third-longest of Warren's career.
Warren caught the ball several yards deep in the end zone, picked up some blocks over the right side and motored all the way down to the Ole Miss 29.
"I was just thinking 'Relax and play,'" Warren said. "The score was what it was, don't get down and keep playing. Take the opportunity you get."
Warren had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown last season against Auburn.
Arkansas had just its second no-sack game of the season against the elusive Nick Fitzgerald. The other sackless outing came in the Hogs' 65-31 loss to Alabama.
The Razorbacks completed 15 passes to its wide receivers against Mississippi State, the most combined catches by the wideouts since they combined for 15 in the 55-20 season-opening victory against Eastern Illinois.
Deon Stewart led the way with 6 catches, though they only went for 13 yards, while La'Michael Pettway had 4 receptions for 83 yards. Mike Woods had three catches, and Jordan Jones added the final two.
In the season opener, Pettway and Jones had 5 catches each, Chase Harrell had 4 and Stewart had 1.
Mississippi State converted on 7 of 10 third-down plays against the Hogs, a 70 percent conversion rate that was easily the best by an Arkansas opponent.
The previous high this season had been 60 percent (6 of 10) by Ole Miss in the Rebels 37-33 victory on Oct. 13. Arkansas entered the game holding opponents to 34.6 percent conversions on third down to rank 37th in the country.
Arkansas converted 5 of 17 third-down plays against the Bulldogs.
Mississippi State backup tailback Aeris Williams, who got extended time with starter Kylin Hill out with a lower leg injury, took advantage with 104 yards on 15 carries in the Bulldogs' 52-6 victory over Arkansas.
Sports on 11/19/2018
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