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Arkansas pulls away in second half for 41-27 win at Auburn

Rocket Sanders ran for 171 yards as the Razorbacks pick up their first win over the Tigers since 2015.
Credit: AP
Arkansas running back Raheim Sanders (5) stiff arms Auburn cornerback Nehemiah Pritchett (18) as he carries the ball during the first half of an NCAA college football game Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022, in Auburn, Ala. (AP Photo/Butch Dill)

Going into Saturday's meeting at Jordan-Hare Stadium, Sam Pittman had yet to beat Auburn since becoming Arkansas' head coach.

That is no longer the case.

Leading by four at the half, the Razorbacks scored 21 straight points to start the second half, eventually coming away with an emphatic 41-27 win on the Plains.

The win marks Arkansas' first win over Auburn since 2015, lifting the Hogs to 2-3 in SEC play and 5-3 overall on the season.

KJ Jefferson tallied 279 total yards (234 passing, 45 rushing) and three total touchdowns. Rashod Dubinion scored on two short touchdown runs, and Rocket Sanders racked up the yardage as he picked up 171 yards on 16 carries. 

Jadon Haselwood recorded the only touchdown catch of the game for the Hogs en route to posting a 5-catch, 61-yard day. Matt Landers went over the century mark, hauling in four receptions for 115 yards.

A big key to the Hogs' victory was their success in the red zone.

Arkansas came into the day ranked 106th in FBS in red zone offense. The Razorbacks flipped that script, going a perfect 7-for-7 in the red zone, with five touchdowns and two field goals.

How it Happened

Arkansas got off to a slow start on offense, with its first two drives ending in a three-and-out and then a fumble near midfield by Jadon Haselwood.

Auburn was only able to turn the good field position into three points. Anders Carlson attempted two 46-yard field goals on the first two drives, missing the first but converting the second to take a 3-0 lead.

The Hogs then responded on their third drive. Some strong running from Rocket Sanders and a 29-yard catch by Warren Thompson set the Hogs up in the red zone.

On 3rd and goal, KJ Jefferson punched in a 1-yard TD to put Arkansas on top 7-3.

Jefferson would again find the endzone in highlight fashion early in the second quarter. On 3rd and 7 from the Auburn 13, Jefferson evaded three separate Tigers' defenders before rumbling into the endzone.

Auburn would find the endzone for the first time midway through the quarter. 

The Tigers drove 93 yards in just five plays, capping the drive with a 41-yard Tank Bigsby touchdown run that cut the Arkansas lead to 14-10.

Arkansas responded on the next drive with a 55-yard pitch and catch from Jefferson to Matt Landers.

That set the Hogs up inside the 10-yard line, but Arkansas was forced to settle for a short Cam Little field goal, giving them a 17-10 advantage.

Carlson then added another field goal before half to make the score 17-13 Arkansas at halftime.

Out of the break, it would be the Razorbacks who would strike first.

Isaiah Nichols blocked Carlson's 52-yard field goal attempt early in the third quarter, setting up the Arkansas offense with good field position at its own 36-yard line.

Sanders carried four times for 36 yards on the Hogs' first drive of the second half, and the Razorbacks capped the drive with an 11-yard TD strike from Jefferson to Jadon Haselwood. 

The score pushed Arkansas' lead back to two possessions, 24-13.

After forcing a quick punt, the Hogs' offense went back to work.

Specifically, Rocket Sanders.

Sanders ripped off a 76-yard run down the left sideline that led the SEC Network broadcast crew to compare him to a former Arkansas running back to wear #5, Darren McFadden.

A direct snap to Rashod Dubinion for a short TD run pushed the Arkansas lead to 31-13.

Dubinion then added another short touchdown run early in the fourth quarter to put Arkansas up 25, essentially putting the game out of reach.

Up next, Arkansas returns home for the start of a three-game home stand, beginning with homecoming against Liberty on November 5.

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