Arkansas pours it on hapless Kentucky, 49-7

jsmith3@herald-leader.comOctober 14, 2012 

  • Tennessee at Kentucky

    When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 30

    TV: ESPNU

    Records: Kentucky 2-9 (0-7 SEC); Tennessee 4-7 (1-6)

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In a flash, it was over.

And that was long before the actual lightning storm that rolled over Donald W. Reynolds Razorbacks Stadium caused conference officials to end the game in the third quarter.

The first flash, a 74-yard scoring strike from Tyler Wilson to Jonathan Williams to open the game, showed that Kentucky and its inexperienced, decimated secondary were in for a long, long night.

The first flash of lightning delayed the game and the inevitable, which was a 49-7 beat down of Kentucky by an Arkansas team that has stumbled through most of its season.

It was the second-largest margin of victory for Arkansas in a Southeastern Conference game in school history.

"It's tough," senior center Matt Smith said after the game was called by SEC officials with 5:08 to go in the third quarter. "This is one of the most embarrassing games we've been a part of."

That Wilson strike would be one of five for the quarterback, who tied an Arkansas record for touchdowns in a game. Early in the third quarter when he was pulled, Wilson had completed 23 of his 34 pass attempts for 372 yards.

Coming into the game, UK had given up just eight touchdowns through the air. But that was before Kentucky's secondary was rocked by injuries, which left it with no depth and three true freshmen starting in the secondary against one of the SEC's best passers.

"We knew to win this game we were going to have to play close to our best and we didn't play anywhere close to our best," Coach Joker Phillips said. "We had a huge challenge playing a top quarterback."

The Hogs scored another touchdown, a 3-yard scoring run from Dennis Johnson, before Mother Nature did her part to stop the game and send the announced crowd of 67,153 scrambling for safety. Another round of lightning delays officially ended the game at 10:08 p.m. CT.

Johnson finished with three touchdowns, two on short runs and one on a 5-yard pass from Wilson, as the Razorbacks won their second straight after losing four in a row.

Kentucky lost its fifth straight game and fell to 1-6 overall, 0-4 in the SEC.

"We got a total beating down today," defensive coordinator Rick Minter said. "The run game, the whole deal. We got a total beat down and we've got a lot of work to do."

Wilson completed 11 of his first 12 attempts for 263 yards and three touchdowns after a quarter.

By the end of the first quarter, Kentucky had been outgained 307-48.

Arkansas scored on each of its first six possessions and would have gone a perfect 7-for-7 before the break, but punted in the waning seconds of the first half.

"We allowed runs; we allowed trick plays; we allowed reverses," Minter said. "They beat us in man; they beat us on wheel routes."

The Cats were outgained 444-88 at the half and were allowing nearly a first down per play (9.9 yards). The Hogs converted on six of their seven third-down tries.

In the season opener, Kentucky gave up 466 yards to Louisville, just 22 yards more than UK allowed to Arkansas (3-4, 2-2) in the first half alone.

"You'd like them to play better, no question about that," Phillips said. "We'd like to have all of our guys available, but we don't. You can't have a young team defensively like we do, especially in the secondary."

Jonathan Williams caught two touchdown passes for the Razorbacks and finished with 150 yards on three catches. In all, Arkansas amassed 533 yards of offense.

Kentucky came into the game with its share of injuries and other issues, traveling with just 68 players instead of the allotted 70 because it didn't have enough healthy bodies.

Of the 68 UK players at Arkansas, 42 were freshmen or sophomores, and they looked the part.

True freshman quarterback Jalen Whitlow kept the game from being a shutout midway through the third quarter, finding senior La'Rod King for a 61-yard touchdown pass, the longest of the season for UK. It was the highlight in a game where the Cats managed just 170 yards of total offense.

"We've got some guys playing that probably aren't quite ready for what they're facing right now," coordinator Randy Sanders said of his offense. Whitlow connected on just two of his 10 pass attempts for 83 yards. UK rushed for 66 yards in all, led by Raymond Sanders' 21 yards.

Smith said the offensive line took the blame for the woes.

"We take a lot of responsibility for what happened on us up front," Smith said. "We weren't protecting well enough for the quarterback. We weren't moving guys off the ball to get our run game going. It seemed like our offense stalled and it's mostly our fault up front."

Phillips said there was plenty of blame to go around.

"We all are responsible for it: offense, defense, special teams," he said.

Jennifer Smith: (859) 231-3241. Twitter: @jenheraldleader. Blog: ukfootball.bloginky.com

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