Like It Is

Razorbacks got aggressive before closing bell

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson (center) holds the Liberty Bowl trophy following the Razorbacks' 55-53 victory over Kansas in three overtimes on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.

MEMPHIS — In 2000, Mike Tyson knocked out Lou Savarese 38 seconds into the first round.

In 2012, Prince William, working as a rescue helicopter pilot in the Royal Air Force, needed 38 seconds to find two girls who had been swept out to sea.

Wednesday night in the Liberty Bowl at Simmons Bank Liberty Stadium, the Arkansas Razorbacks scored two touchdowns in 38 seconds to take a 17-7 lead en route to a 31-13 halftime lead and a false sense of security.

Kansas outplayed the Hogs in the final 30 minutes of regulation, outscoring the Razorbacks 25-7. The game went into overtime tied 38-38.

Arkansas was not as aggressive on offense in the second half, sticking mostly to its run game.

The Razorbacks showed some moxie in the second overtime after scoring a touchdown, going for two and converting. They seemed to have it won when they stopped the Jayhawks’ two-point attempt, only to be flagged for targeting.

In the third overtime, when teams just go for two-point conversions, KJ Jefferson hit Rashod Dubinion in the corner of the end zone. Kansas tried to get cute and attempted a pass by a receiver — why is the question of the game after quarterback Jalon Daniels had passed for 544 yards and five touchdowns — and the ball sailed out of the end zone.

Arkansas escaped with a 55-53 record-setting Liberty Bowl victory.

The Razorbacks dominated the first half, fueled by a 59-yard pass from Jefferson to Matt Landers with 6:05 to play in the first quarter. The two-play, 68-yard drive took 30 seconds and after Cam Little added the extra point.

Kansas fumbled the ensuing kickoff that Harper Cole, a redshirt walk-on receiver recovered. Then eight seconds later, Jefferson passed 17 yards to Ty Washington for a touchdown.

Arkansas made it 24-7 with a 73-yard, 11-play drive with Jefferson scoring from the 3 with 23 seconds to play in the first quarter, which set a Liberty Bowl standard for points scored in a quarter.

Arkansas added its final touchdown of the first half with a 78-yard drive, and AJ Green got the final 30, first on a 10-yard pass from Jefferson and the last 20 on a run.

KU did answer that time and went into the locker room down 31-13 after a two-point attempt was knocked down by Chris Paul Jr.

Arkansas appeared to have the mindset in the second half of running out the clock. Going into the fourth quarter Kansas had closed it to 38-20 and was knocking on the door at the Arkansas 22.

The Hogs passed only two times in the third quarter. When the Jayhawks settled for a field goal with 14:07 to play to make it 38-23, it was game on.

The Razorbacks’ defense was great against the run and almost nonexistent against the pass. The Jayhawks had only 59 yards rushing, but Daniels was looking like he should have been in New York for the Heisman Trophy announcement.

Why the Jayhawks even called a run play was puzzling.

It did appear that the Hogs were going to walk softly into the night when Jackson Woodard, one of many new faces who played like wild Razorbacks, tipped a fourth-down pass and gave Arkansas the ball with 3:52 to play.

Jefferson’s sixth pass of the second half went for 43 yards to Landers, but two downs later the receiver lost the ball and Kansas scooped and raced 37 yards to the Arkansas 48.

Kansas, out of timeouts, passed itself into the end zone, and with just 1:05 the Jayhawks trailed 38-30.

The onside kick went between two Razorbacks, and KU was in action at the 50. Four plays later the Jayhawks were in the end zone.

Arkansas, which did have 681 yards of offense, went aggressive in overtime and was able to add to its trophy case.