The Razorbacks are .500 on the season once again, taking a major victory over rare SEC East opponent Tennessee 24-13 on Saturday night.
The Vols made it clear it would be a long night on their game opening drive. Rushing eight times and completing three passes, the Vol offense took 5:35 off the clock. The Hogs, showing a variety of defensive fronts, gave up a third down early in the drive but Jalen Catalon, who exited the A&M loss in the second quarter due to targeting, shut down a screen pass, forcing a 50-yard field goal.
The Razorbacks’ first drive was less successful, getting 30 yards with De’Vion Warren and ending in a punt, downed at the Georgia 19-yard line.
Jarrett Guarantano picked up a big 3rd and 8 to keep the Vols’ second drive alive–rushing for 20 yards on a scramble across midfield. Another third down conversion on 3rd and 5 put them in the redzone. Sophomore running back Eric Gray finished the first quarter with 64 yards rushing and knocking on the endzone.
Tennessee had the ball for 12:39 of the first quarter
With seven linemen blocking for him, Gray scored on a 1-yard run making it 10-0 Tennessee.
Solid rushing by Rakeem Boyd gave the Razorbacks a couple easy 3rd-and-one conversions. Aided by a Mike Woods reception, a 24-yard pickup across the middle by Blake Kern and a 3rd-down reception by Treylon Burks in the redzone, the Hogs drove 71 yards… only to miss three shots at the endzone and a 21-yard field goal wide right.
The Volunteers start their third drive with 8:51 left in the first half. Two run stops by the Hogs and an incomplete pass on third down force Tennessee off the field without points for the first time Saturday night and the Hogs get the ball back with 7:34 to play.
Trelon Smith sprung his longest run of the season (23 yards) to start Arkansas’s third drive. The drive then got very weird with a botched backwards pass, a botched pass by Warren to Smith that was negated by an illegal formation call on the Hogs and then on 3rd and 20, Franks ran up the middle and fumbled… retrieving his own fumble and almost gaining the necessary yards for first down.
Reid Bauer was close to pinning the Vols inside their 10 but the coverage unit couldn’t stop the touchback, another failing of the Arkansas special teams.
A couple chunk runs by Gray, a holding called on Hudson Clark and an 18-yard reception put the Vols past midfield with more than three minutes left to score. Ladarrius Bishop made the score-saving play but the Vols wouldn’t be denied, grabbing three from 48 yards out.
To avoid a scoreless first half, the Razorbacks have all three timeouts with 1:50 left on the clock. A decent return by Warren sets Franks up at the 26-yard line. Franks completes a pass behind the line of scrimmage to Warren who picks up 19. The Hogs try to go quickly on a 3rd and 7 but a Tennessee defender goes down on the field with a sudden injury. Franks’ pass intended for Burks fell incomplete and Sam Loy’s punt 33 yards, downed at the Volunteer 22 yard line with 42 seconds until halftime. Jeremy Pruitt and his squad jog it into the locker room up 13-0
The Vols and Razorbacks had a 2:1 split in time of possession and Tennessee out-passed, out-rushed and out-converted Arkansas in the first half. Guarantano was 5-of-8 for 42 yards while Franks finished the first half 6-of-9 with 37 passing yards and 15 rushing yards on five attempts.
Differing to the second half, the Razorbacks began at their own 25 and drove 75 yards on 16 plays for a score. The Hogs converted five third downs–a (banged-up) Henry catch, Boyd rush, Smith rush, Burks catch, Kern catch–and punched it in with a 1-yard pass to Woods to make it 13-7 Tennessee. It was Woods’ first touchdown of the season after snagging four in 2019.
A three-and-out by Tennessee on the next drive set Arkansas up to take the lead with 7:35 left in the third quarter. The Vols replaced Guarantano with sophomore Brian Maurer after the senior took a major hit.
After a 5-yard rush by Boyd on first down from the 33, Franks took a deep shot, resulting in a touchdown by Woods, eventually called out of bounds at the 6-yard line. After the review, Franks completes a 6-yard touchdown pass to Kern over the middle, taking the Hogs’ first lead of the game with 6:35 left to play in the third quarter. Arkansas 14, Tennessee 13.
The Razorback defense stopped the Vol running game to force another three-and-out, taking the ball back and scoring in two plays–a 22-yard rush by Smith and a 59-yard catch and run by Burks. Hogs pushed the lead to 21-13 with 4:13 left in the third.
A run and two incomplete passes by Maurer later, Tennessee punted the ball back to Arkansas for their fourth drive of the third quarter. A rushing pickup of 24 yards for Franks and a pass interference call for Warren put the Hogs in field goal range. Reed knocked through a 48-yarder, his first from 40+ this season. Razorbacks had just four minutes more in time of possession but outscored the Vols 24-0 in the third quarter.
Arkansas’ 24-point outburst is tied for the most points it has ever scored in the third quarter against an SEC opponent. It also had 24 points against South Carolina in 1998.
Franks threw for 11-of-13, 170 yards and three scores in the third quarter with the Hogs out-gaining Tennessee 257 yards to 16.
Desperately needing to get something going, Mauer was sacked by Joe Foucha to start the first fourth-quarter drive. A tackle for loss by Julius Coates on Gray and a quarterback hurry by Bumper Pool forced Tennessee to punt once again, giving Arkansas the ball back with 13:13 to play and an 11-point lead.
The Razorback offensive line gave up their first sack of the game on their ninth drive. Tennessee got their second just two plays later, creating a 4th and 24 with 10:49 left on the clock in Fayetteville.
The Arkansas defense, stacking the box for a young quarterback, set up a 3rd and 9 on the Volunteer’s next drive and sent them off the field after three plays for the fifth drive in a row. Pool and Gregory were credited with the run-stopping plays.
Ball back in Arkansas territory, Tennessee sacked Franks on first down again, a loss of 4, with 8:41 to play. On third down, the Vols stripped the Hog quarterback but it was recovered by Dalton Wagner. Bauer’s punt didn’t make it past midfield, giving Tennessee freshman quarterback Harrison Bailey the ball for the first time at the Arkansas 48 with 7:07 remaining. Mauer was 0-3 on passes and gained just three yards on the ground before exiting.
Pruitt shifted to the ground-and-pound game with Gray to chip away at the field separating the Vols from the endzone but Jonathan Marshall and Pool combined for a TFL to set up 4th and 4. Instead of settling for three points, Bailey goes for it on a slant over the middle, which is popped up and picked off by redshirt freshman defensive lineman Eric Gregory.
Gregory’s pick is the 11th for Arkansas this season, matching the combined total from the Hogs over the last two seasons.
With 4:32 left to play, Franks and company lined up at the 32. After chipping away at the clock with runs, the Hogs punt the ball back to Tennessee with 2:07 remaining and the same 11-point lead they started the fourth quarter with.
Catalon capped off the game with the Hogs’ 12 pick of the season, his third, as the Vols tossed it towards the endzone in a last-ditch attempt.
Franks finished 18-of-24 for 215 passing, three touchdowns, 14 runs and 18 rushing yards. Burks led all receivers with five catches for 95 yards and a touchdown, followed by Woods’ three catches for 64 yards and a score. Kern’s touchdown was the first of his career.
Smith averaged eight yards per carry with nine rushes and 72 rushing yards. Boyd followed with 19 runs for 64 yards (3.4 avg). Pool led all defenders with 14 tackles, followed by Catalon, Morgan and Foucha.