FAYETTEVILLE (UofA) - Senior wide receiver Jarius Wright broke UA's career receptions record as No. 8 Arkansas defeated Tennessee 49-7 inside Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
Wright, who had five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown, broke the record with a 14-yard reception in the third quarter and finished the game with 155 career catches. Teammate Joe Adams is not far behind on the career receptions list, as his two-catch performance moved him into a tie for second with Anthony Eubanks, the previous record holder, at 153 receptions.
With the win, Arkansas improves to 9-1 this season and 5-1 in conference play. It's the team's best start under head coach Bobby Petrino and the first 9-1 start for the Razorbacks since 2006, the only other time UA started 9-1 or better since joining the SEC.
The win also ties the longest winning streak for Arkansas under Coach Petrino at six games. With the victory, the Razorbacks are guaranteed a winning SEC record for the second consecutive season, marking the first time the Razorbacks have done so in school history.
"I thought the team did well in preparation all week long," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "It was all about the seniors this week, winning their last game in Fayetteville. We were really concerned about our effort and performance and we knew if we did those things the scoreboard would take care of itself."
The Razorbacks got the first score of the night after stopping a fake field goal attempt on Tennessee's first offensive drive. Arkansas took over on its own 25-yard line and marched down the field in 13 plays for the first touchdown of the game. The drive was capped by a 7-yard pass from Wilson to Wright and pushed Arkansas in front 7-0 with 3:39 to play in the first quarter.
The touchdown catch by Wright also gave him 22 for his career and moved him one behind Anthony Lucas for second on UA's all-time list.
With less than one minute remaining in the first quarter, the Arkansas defense caused another three-and-out and forced Tennessee to punt. On the ensuing return, Joe Adams broke several tackles on the way to a 60-yard punt return, which sent the sold-out crowd into a frenzy.
It was the NCAA-leading fifth kick return touchdown for Arkansas this season, and third punt return for a touchdown. It was also Adams' third punt return this season, which is tied for the second-highest single-season total in SEC history. Kicker Zach Hocker added the extra point to double Arkansas' lead to 14-0 with 17 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
"We had a lot of big plays tonight," Coach Petrino said. "We've certainly played well in our last three games at home, and what else can you say about our special teams. They've been great all season, scoring five touchdowns."
Heading into the second quarter, Arkansas tacked on seven more points, and this time it would only take two plays. Starting the drive at their own 29-yard line, running back Dennis Johnson received the handoff on second down and proceeded to cut through tackles before finding open space all the way to the end zone. A 71-yard scoring run was Johnson's second rushing touchdown of the season and gave the Razorbacks a huge 21-0 lead with 11:25 left on the clock in the second quarter.
Tennessee did answer back on their next possession with an 11-yard touchdown run by Rajon Neal to cut the lead to 21-7, but that would be the last score of the half as the Razorbacks took a 14-point lead into the locker room.
The Razorbacks continued the scoring in the third quarter on their second possession of the half. With the drive already beginning at their own 48-yard line, Arkansas needed only five plays to go the distance for seven more points. Johnson scampered into the end zone from 15 yards out for his second touchdown of the game, and Arkansas built its lead to 28-7 with 7:07 to play in the third quarter.
The defense stepped up big again on Tennessee's ensuing possession as the Volunteers were forced to go for it on 4th-and-1 from their own 40-yard line. The pass from Tennessee quarterback Justin Worley to DeAnthony Arnett fell incomplete and the Arkansas offense took over with good field position.
One play later, Wilson connected with Adams on a 40-yard touchdown pass and the Razorbacks continued to extend their lead to 35-7 with 4:17 to play in the third. The touchdown by Adams was his first of the night and second of the season.
Arkansas carried the 28-point lead into the final period and scored on its first two possessions of the fourth quarter. The first score came after a huge 40-yard run by senior Broderick Green, who followed up with a 10-yard touchdown catch from Wilson two plays later. The score extended Arkansas' lead even further to 42-7 with 10:58 to go in the game.
Arkansas' final score came from 26 yards out as De'Anthony Curtis got in on the scoring barrage. The senior from Camden, Ark., found a seam through the tackles and saw nothing but green as he scored his first touchdown of the season to light the scoreboard up one more time. The Razorbacks saw their lead go up to 49-7, which would be the final numbers as the game ended.
Wilson led the way throughout the game in passing and was 16-of-26 for 224 yards and three touchdowns. With that performance, he is now third on UA's single-season passing yards list, passing Clint Stoerner. This season, Wilson has amassed 2,850 yards through the air. The junior from Greenwood, Ark., also moved to third on UA's single-season completions list. His 16 completions gave him 211 this season and passed Casey Dick's 205 completions from 2008.
Johnson was the leading rusher in the game as he collected 97 yards on 11 carries. His scoring run in the second quarter was the longest rush of his career, bettering his previous long of 54 yards against LSU in 2008.
The Razorbacks wrap up their home schedule next week against Mississippi State at War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark. Kickoff is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. for the game that will be televised on CBS.