Matt Jones is the online sports director for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A double graduate of the University of Arkansas, he is a member of the Football Writers Association of America and National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association, and voter for the Heisman Trophy.
O'Grady's finish finished the Rams
Arkansas tight end C.J. O'Grady (left) pulls away from several Colorado State defenders during a game Saturday, Sept. 14, 2019, in Fayetteville. O'Grady broke away from five tacklers on the play that resulted in a 62-yard touchdown.
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas' game against Colorado State was far from over Saturday when C.J. O'Grady had the highlight of the Razorbacks' season to this point.
With just less than six minutes remaining, Arkansas led the Rams 41-34 and faced a second-and-9 from its own 38. Lined up as the tight end on the left side of the formation, O'Grady ran what equated to a wheel route and found himself one-on-one and with a step on Colorado State sophomore linebacker Cam'ron Carter.
Quarterback Nick Starkel put good touch on the ball that O'Grady caught near the Arkansas sideline at the Rams' 46. Carter tried to make a tackle, but O'Grady's momentum carried the defender for nearly 10 yards until two other Colorado State players closed in near the 35-yard line.
It was there that O'Grady pulled away from Carter. A few steps later he pulled free from four other Rams - safety Logan Stewart, cornerbacks Rashad Ayashi and Marshaun Cameron, and linebacker Max McDonald - and, aided by a block from receiver Treylon Burks, raced to the end zone.
"That was a huge play for us," Arkansas coach Chad Morris said. "Determination, will, drive - that was a great finish."
No one was stopping Cheyenne O'Grady 💪 💪— SEC Network (@SECNetwork) September 14, 2019
NO. ONE. pic.twitter.com/o1bfJQXdER
Not only was a great finish to the play, but a fitting one to the game as the Razorbacks pulled away for a 55-34 victory. The game was tied at 34 apiece entering the fourth quarter.
If there was any thought the Rams would catch the Razorbacks, it was erased by O'Grady's terrific individual effort on the 62-yard touchdown. It came at the end of a week in which O'Grady missed multiple practices with what was described as strep throat.
O'Grady didn't enter the game until the first play of the second quarter. He finished the game with three receptions for 74 yards.
"I told him I was going to get him the ball this game, and did just that," Starkel said. "Let him go make a play. I didn't see how he got out of it or anything, but he did his job that play."
Of the five Colorado State defenders who got their hands on O'Grady, only two tried to wrap up to make a tackle. The others tried to strip the ball or push O'Grady down. When those efforts were unsuccessful he broke free.
"We have got to get a guy on the ground when they are trying to strip him and make a play," Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. "That guy did a great job of keeping his feet and scoring a touchdown.”
"Probably wasn't the smartest thing to do given that we had the lead and they were obviously trying to strip the ball out," O'Grady said, "...but I fought to stay up and ended up slipping out."
It was the first touchdown this season for O'Grady, who led the team with six touchdown receptions last season. O'Grady missed the Razorbacks' season opener against Portland State after having a minor knee operation in August.
"I really wanted to get into the end zone," O'Grady said. "It's been too long for me.
"By the time I got to the end zone, I couldn't breathe. So, I couldn't even celebrate."
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