Wally Hall is the managing sports editor for the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette. A graduate of the University of Arkansas-Little Rock after an honorable discharge from the U.S. Air Force, he is a member and past president of the Football Writers Association of America, member of the U.S. Basketball Writers Association, past president and current executive committee and board member of the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame, and voter for the Heisman Trophy. He has been awarded Arkansas Sportswriter of the Year 10 times and has been inducted into the Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Hogs check all the boxes on a cold night
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson (1) walks onto the field prior to a game against Ole Miss on Saturday, Nov. 19, 2022, in Fayetteville.
On a freezing cold night, the Arkansas Razorbacks were red hot on offense early and good enough at keeping Ole Miss out of the end zone to check off all the boxes.
Beat Ole Miss? Check, 42-27.
Bowl eligible? Check.
Raheim Sanders won the battle of running backs? Check, but barely. Ole Miss’ Quinshon Judkins is outstanding, too.
KJ Jefferson back? Check. Double check and triple check.
Jefferson, who has been struggling since falling on his right shoulder in a win over Auburn, was the field general, reading Ole Miss’ defenses almost perfectly as he threw for 168 yards on 17 of 22 passes and 3 touchdowns. He rushed for 58 yards.
The game was actually over two plays into the second half when Sanders bolted 68 yards for a touchdown and a 42-6 lead.
The junior finished with 231 yards and 3 touchdowns on 21 carries, bringing his season totals to 1,379 yards. Judkins, who edged Sanders out last week, remains No. 1 in the SEC, barely, with 1,383 yards.
After taking a 42-6 lead, the Razorbacks went ultra conservative on offense and Ole Miss tried to fire back and managed three touchdowns. But it was too little too late for a team that had three turnovers and were penalized 12 times for 116 yards.
There was more than 1,100 yards of offense between the teams, but the only numbers that will be remembered are the final score.
After losses to Liberty and LSU by a total of five points, the Razorbacks needed this one almost as much as Ole Miss needed sideline heaters with temperatures in the 20s.
Arkansas scored touchdowns of five of its seven first-half possessions while holding Ole Miss, which wiped out two touchdowns with penalties, to a pair of field goals.
No one expected the No. 14 Rebels, who came into the game averaging 36 points per game, to be trailing the unranked Razorbacks. But with Jefferson back at full speed, the Hogs displayed incredible offensive balance, rushing for 205 first-half yards and getting two touchdowns from Sanders.
In the first two quarters, Jefferson completed 14 of 18 passes for 164 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Arkansas took a 7-0 lead on its second possession, driving 69 yards with Matt Landers getting the first of his two touchdowns. But Trey Knox had two catches for 36 yards.
The Rebels appeared to tie it on their next possession when they converted a fourth and 9 with 33 yards and a touchdown, but it came back because of a hold.
Landers capped the next drive by making a hard catch look easy. With a step on the defender, he caught the ball over his right shoulder for 23 yards and a 14-0 lead.
Ole Miss got a field goal and Arkansas answered with another touchdown, this one a 75-yard drive that ended with Ketron Jackson’s 20-yard catch in the end zone.
Again the Hog defense held the Rebels to a field goal and this time the Razorbacks appeared to go conservative. But it was Rocket’s red glare as Sanders carried all seven times for 75 yards and a 28-6 lead.
Alabama transfer linebacker Drew Sanders pulled down an interception, returned it to the Ole Miss 48 and with just 1:07 to play the Hogs drove 48 yards with Raheim Sanders going the final 8 for a 35-6 halftime lead.
Arkansas has 369 yards of offense in the opening half, 164 through the air and 205 on the ground.
Ole Miss had 309 yards of total offense but seven penalties for 62 yards and the Razorback defense held the visitors to one field goal on two trips to the red zone while Arkansas scored touchdowns on all four of its trips inside the 20.
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