FAYETTEVILLE — Things couldn’t have started much worse for the Razorbacks in Saturday afternoon’s Arkansas vs Auburn showdown.
A long punt return for a touchdown made it a two-score game before many fans even settled into their seats at Reynolds Razorback Stadium and almost nothing went Arkansas’ way as it fell behind 27-3 at halftime.
Perhaps the biggest sign of life in the first half came on a late hit penalty on Jayden Johnson. The junior lit up Jay Fair after he had stepped out of bounds. Making matters worse, he was also assessed a targeting foul and ejected from the game.
A starting safety was far from the only thing missing from the Razorbacks, though. They’ve struggled to tackle on defense and block on offense, resulting in the Tigers out-gaining them 277-110.
Auburn quarterback Payton Thorne has torched Arkansas on the ground, already rushing for 79 yards and a touchdown on only 11 carries — a 7.2-yard average. He’s also completed 9 of 16 passes for 126 yards and another score.
His lone mistake is the only thing preventing this from being a shutout, as Dwight McGlothern jumped in front of a pass and returned the interception to the 22-yard line.
The Razorbacks’ offense managed just a 39-yard field goal from Cam Little after that play and has moved the chains only four times. Quarterback KJ Jefferson is just 6 of 12 for 66 yards and has 37 yards on 13 carries — which includes four sacks that lost 20 yards.
The first half ended about as horribly as it started, too, with Jefferson fumbling when he was hit as he tried to throw in the closing seconds. Auburn recovered it and was able to tack on another field goal as time expired.
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LIVE UPDATES — Arkansas vs Auburn
Right tackle Patrick Kutas (high ankle sprain) is not dressed out. Ty’Kieast Crawford will start in his place.
The Razorbacks will also be without a pair of key backups — defensive end Jashaud Stewart and cornerback Jaheim Singletary.
On a good note, wide receiver Andrew Armstrong and defensive tackle Anthony Booker Jr. are dressed out and going through pregame warmups.
The family of Chris Smith, the former standout defensive end who tragically passed earlier this year, was recognized as the honorary team captains before the game.
12:37, 1Q — Auburn 7, Arkansas 0
Auburn needed just six plays to cover 75 yards on the game’s opening possession. A 45-yard catch and run by Caleb Burton was the big play, with quarter Payton Thorne keeping it for a 12-yard touchdown to cap the drive.
10:44, 1Q — Auburn 14, Arkansas 0
After a three-and-out by the Razorbacks’ offense, Keionte Scott returned Max Fletcher’s punt 74 yards for a touchdown. He was hardly touched, if at all, on his way to the end zone.
6:28, 1Q — Auburn 21, Arkansas 0
The Razorbacks went three-and-out on their second drive and a 35-yard punt by Fletcher gave Auburn solid field position. The Tigers needed only six plays to cover 56 yards, with Thorne hitting Rivaldo Fairweather for an 11-yard touchdown.
1:54, 1Q — Auburn 21, Arkansas 3
Dwight McGlothern jumped in front of a pass and returned the interception to the 22, but once again, Arkansas’ offense couldn’t do anything. It managed only two yards before settling for a Cam Little 39-yard field goal.
END of 1Q — Auburn 21, Arkansas 3
1:11, 2Q — Auburn 24, Arkansas 3
Starting at their own 5-yard line, the Tigers marched all the way down the field until stalling in the red zone. They had to settle for a 39-yard field goal by Alex McPherson.
0:00, 2Q — Auburn 27, Arkansas 3
The Razorbacks’ effort at a last-minute scoring drive backfired spectacularly, as KJ Jefferson was hit as he threw, fumbled and Auburn recovered. That allowed the Tigers to tack on a 31-yard field goal as time expired.
HALF — Auburn 27, Arkansas 3
9:26, 3Q — Auburn 34, Arkansas 3
After yet another three-and-out by Arkansas to open the second half, its fourth of the day, Auburn went through the defense with very little resistance. Thorne capped the 67-yard drive with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ja’Varrius Johnson.
7:08, 3Q — Auburn 41, Arkansas 3
The Razorbacks actually had something going on offense thanks to a long strike to Isaiah Sategna, but a Rocket Sanders fumble was returned all the way to the 11, setting up another Thorne to Fairweather touchdown. This thing is starting to get out of hand.
0:14, 3Q — Auburn 48, Arkansas 3
Brian Battie’s first carry of the day is a 7-yard touchdown to cap an 8-play, 65-yard drive.
END of 3Q — Auburn 48, Arkansas 3
14:35, 4Q — Auburn 48, Arkansas 10
Jacolby Criswell broke free for a 60-yard run and then threw a nice pass to Isaac TeSlaa for an 11-yard touchdown.
FINAL — Auburn 48, Arkansas 10
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