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 to the Arkansas Sports Hall of Fame and Arkansas Sportswriters and Sportscasters Hall of Fame.
Like It Is:
Clark's play changed the game for Arkansas
Arkansas defensive back Hudson Clark (17) tackles BYU wide receiver Keanu Hill (1), Saturday, October 15, 2022 during the second quarter of a football game at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, Utah. Visit nwaonline.com/221016Daily/ for the photo gallery.
It was the play of the game.
It came about 3 1/2 minutes after Arkansas’ Latavious Brini, a transfer from Georgia, recovered a BYU fumble at the Cougars’ 34 during the Razorbacks’ 52-35 victory Saturday at Provo, Utah. It took Arkansas five plays to get in the end zone and take a 24-21 lead with 3:39 to play in the first half.
That was plenty of time for the Coogs, who had scored on three of their first four possessions, to drive 65 yards and take the momentum into intermission with another touchdown.
BYU got 3 yards on the ground, an open receiver dropped a pass, but it converted third-and-7 with an 18-yard completion.
It was obvious if the Razorbacks were going to win they would do so on offense. It was already a shootout.
More from WholeHogSports: Clark earns SEC honor for play at BYU
Then Jaren Hall dropped back and floated a pass down the right sideline. Arkansas’ Hudson Clark timed it perfect and snagged the pass, got both feet down and the Razorbacks were back in business at their 32 with 2:22 before halftime.
KJ Jefferson, on a third-and-11, avoided being sacked multiple times before passing to tight endTrey Knox, who broke two tackles for a 36-yard gain to the BYU 22. Three plays later, Jefferson passed 15 yards to running back Rashod Dubinion for a touchdown and a 31-21 halftime lead.
BYU opened the second half with a touchdown, but the momentum had swung.
Arkansas answered in 33 seconds with Jefferson hitting Matt Landers, who had 8 catches and 3 touchdowns in the game, for 39 yards and a touchdown.
BYU scored another touchdown, but the Razorbacks didn’t so much as blink, putting together a 12-play, 75-yard answer with Landers catching a 5-yard touchdown. The wind was out of the Cougars’ sails.
Arkansas would add an insurance touchdown on a 64-yard run by Raheim Sanders, who finished with a career-high 175 yards on 15 carries. Sanders has 870 yards rushing this season and 1,059 all-purpose yards.
Clark, who also had 11 tackles and a fumble recovery, was selected Arkansas Democrat-Gazette defensive player of the game. On Monday he was named SEC co-defensive player of the week.
Clark’s story is worthy of some consideration by the Brandon Burlsworth Trophy committee for an outstanding player who began his career as a walk-on.
His story sprung to life during his redshirt freshman season, when the defensive back had three of Matt Corral’s six interceptions in the Razorbacks’ 33-21 home win over Ole Miss.
Clark has played a lot of cornerback since then and has moved to safety to help shore up a position racked with injuries. Going into his junior year, he had 69 tackles.
This season he is fifth on the team in tackles with 28, has 1 tackle for loss and 7 pass breakups – 3 more than cornerback Dwight McGlothern.
Clark went 735 days between interceptions, but he’s made them all count, and the interception Saturday swung the momentum for the Razorbacks in the second half.
On both sides of the ball, there were numerous considerations for player of the game.
Landers had all those catches and touchdowns, and Sanders a bunch of important yards, but Jefferson returned after missing a game because of a head injury to complete 29 of 40 passes for 367 yards and a career-best 5 touchdowns.
Trent Gordon, a transfer from Penn State, came into Saturday’s game with just eight tackles and came up with seven big stops. McGlothern, a transfer from LSU, had five tackles and forced a fumble.
It is never easy picking just one player on either side of the ball. But when BYU and its fast-hitting offense could have made a comeback to end the first half, Clark, who had been playing off defenders as part of the bend-but-don’t-break strategy, made the right move at the right time.
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