Razorbacks beat FIU to snap home losing streak

By: Matt Jones Matt Jones's Twitter account
Published: Saturday, November 18, 2023
Arkansas safety Al Walcott returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against Florida International on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Fayetteville.
( Hank Layton)
Arkansas safety Al Walcott returns an interception for a touchdown during a game against Florida International on Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, in Fayetteville.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas’ football team snapped a three-game home losing streak Saturday night. 

The Razorbacks defeated Florida International 44-20 in front of an announced, tickets-sold attendance of 61,442 at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. The actual attendance, which was not announced, appeared much smaller. 

Arkansas (4-7) won its first home game since a 28-6 victory over Kent State on Sept. 9. The Razorbacks had lost three consecutive home games to BYU, Mississippi State and Auburn, the final of which was a 48-10 thumping last week to deny Arkansas any chance of bowl eligibility. 

It looked like FIU (4-7) might give the Razorbacks a scare, too, but Arkansas scored 24 consecutive points in the second quarter to stake a 31-13 halftime lead. 

Quarterback KJ Jefferson threw a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Broden with 11:58 remaining before halftime to give the Razorbacks a 14-13 lead. A little more than a minute later, defensive back Al Walcott intercepted FIU quarterback Keyone Jenkins and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown. 

It was the fifth defensive touchdown of the season for Arkansas — the Razorbacks’ most since at least 1992 when they joined the SEC. 

Following a 31-yard field goal by Cam Little, Arkansas running back Dominique Johnson ran 31 yards untouched for a touchdown with 1:08 to play in the half. It was Johnson’s first touchdown run since a Nov. 20, 2021, game at Alabama. 

Jefferson threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Jaedon Wilson less than three minutes into the game to give the Razorbacks a 7-0 lead. The drive began at the 32 after Arkansas stopped FIU on a fourth-down attempt. 

But the Panthers scored on two of their next three drives. Jennings ran for a 1-yard touchdown with 10:42 left in the first quarter, one play after an 80-yard pass to Kris Mitchell. 

FIU led 13-7 when Jenkins threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Dean Patterson with 1:21 remaining in the first quarter. Chase Gabriel’s extra-point attempt was wide left. 

The Panthers pulled within 31-20 early in the third quarter when Mitchell caught a contested 12-yard touchdown pass from Jenkins. Mitchell finished with six receptions for 157 yards, mostly before halftime. 

Arkansas answered the touchdown late in the third quarter on a 32-yard pass from Jefferson to Isaiah Sategna. 

Jefferson finished 15-of-28 passing for 187 yards and 3 touchdowns, and rushed 14 times for 98 yards when adjusted for sacks. His first touchdown pass was the 65th of his career, which broke Brandon Allen’s career record at Arkansas. 

With 7,909 yards, Jefferson also broke Tyler Wilson's record for career passing yards. 

Jacolby Criswell replaced Jefferson as the quarterback midway through the fourth quarter.

Little kicked field goals from 39 and 41 yards to put the Razorbacks ahead 44-20 in the fourth quarter. Little, who had missed twice prior to the game, missed wide right on a pair of field goals from 34 and 48 yards in the third quarter. All of his attempts were from the left hash mark. 

The Groza Award semifinalist for the nation’s best kicker has made 20 of 24 attempts. He has made multiple field goals in six games this year. 

Arkansas freshman Isaiah Augustave rushed 14 times for a team-high 101 yards in his most extensive playing time. Running backs Raheim “Rocket” Sanders and Rashod Dubinion both left the game with injuries before halftime. 

The Razorbacks rushed 53 times for a season-high 324 yards before an end-of-game kneel down. Johnson’s 62 yards on six attempts were a personal season high. 

Jenkins was 21-of-36 passing for 256 yards and 2 touchdowns, and was intercepted twice by Walcott. The Panthers lost their third consecutive game and for the sixth time since a 3-1 start. 

The teams met for the second time. The Razorbacks won the first meeting 58-10 in October 2007.

Arkansas is scheduled to conclude the season Friday with a 3 p.m. game against ninth-ranked Missouri.


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