Arkansas beats No. 8 Ole Miss 30-0 to become Bowl Eligible
FAYETTEVILLE, AR (arkansasrazorbacks.com) – Propelled behind a stifling Arkansas defense, the Razorbacks trounced their second consecutive Southeastern Conference foe en route to a 30-0 shutout over No. 8 Ole Miss Saturday evening in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Three interceptions highlighted the pesky Arkansas (6-5, 2-5 SEC) defense that forced six turnovers against the Rebels, while holding the Ole Miss (8-3, 4-3 SEC) offense to their lowest rushing production this season (63).
Arkansas opened scoring after forcing the Rebels to a three-and-out and capitalizing on the ensuing drive. The Razorbacks marched down the field, until junior wide receiver Keon Hatcher dove for a toss from junior quarterback Brandon Allen in the end zone from 25 yards out. The scoring drive spanned 52 yards, three plays and 1:12, the shortest scoring drive for Arkansas since Alabama.
On Ole Miss' next possession, the Razorback defense allowed the Rebels just two plays before senior linebacker Martrell Spaight forced a fumble out of the hands of Ole Miss quarterback Bo Wallace which was recovered by senior defensive end Trey Flowers.
The turnover placed the Razorback offense in dangerous territory on the Rebels' 29-yard line. After inching its way as close as it could to Ole Miss' end zone, Arkansas deployed sophomore kicker Adam McFain to split the uprights and extend the Razorbacks lead to 10-0.
Arkansas held the Ole Miss offense to six yards on its following possession forcing the Rebels to punt, placing the Razorbacks on Ole Miss' 49. Sparked by receptions from sophomore wide receiver Drew Morgan and senior tight end AJ Derby, Arkansas inched its way to the one-yard line. From one yard out on a fourth down, sophomore running back Alex Collins punched in Arkansas' second score and his 12th of the season.
After trading possessions in the second frame, the Rebels came within striking distance of the Arkansas end zone. Ole Miss' Wallace heaved a toss to a receiver in the Razorbacks' end zone, but senior corner back Tevin Mitchell beat him to it, picking the ball off in the end zone and placing the Razorbacks on their 20-yard line and shutting out its second-consecutive SEC game at half.
Following a field goal from McFain to open the second quarter, the Arkansas defense stepped up to make the play of the day.
The Ole Miss offense lined-up within striking distance on Arkansas' 38-yard line with under four minutes remaining in the third quarter. History repeated itself as Wallace tossed to a Rebel receiver in the end zone, but watched as junior safety Rohan Gaines picked off his pass on the one-yard line and returned it to the Ole Miss end zone. Gaines' 100-yard interception return was the first interception return for a touchdown since Tevin Mitchel's 23-yard touchdown at Rutgers in 2013. It was Arkansas' longest play since Jerell Norton returned an interception 100 yards vs. North Texas in 2007. The return also ties the program record for longest interception return in school history.
McFain knocked in another field goal to extend Arkansas' lead and an interception from sophomore linebacker Brooks Ellis dosed the Rebels' hopes for a comeback. Arkansas' 30-0 shutout win over the Rebels marked the first time the Razorbacks have shut-out back-to-back opponents since 1965 when Arkansas defeated Texas A&M and Rice in the Southwestern Conference.
The Razorbacks will next take on the Missouri Tigers in Colombia, Missouri on Friday, Nov. 28. Kickoff is slated for 1:30 p.m. and will be nationally televised on CBS.