FAYETTEVILLE — A day after its offensive line was named the best in the country by Pro Football Focus, Arkansas certainly didn’t look like it in the first half Saturday.
Facing whose coach even admitted had the best offensive line it’s played in a while, Rocket Sanders was bottled up for much of the first quarter and the Razorbacks find themselves in a 21-3 halftime deficit against No. 23 Liberty.
The Flames racked up eight tackles for loss, including two sacks, and forced Arkansas into a three-and-out on three of its first four possessions. Had it not been for a pair of long completions and a flag in the final 42 seconds, the Razorbacks would have been shut out in the first half for the first time since last year’s loss at eventual national champion Georgia.
Instead, KJ Jefferson’s 18-yard pass to Jadon Haselwood and 22-yard pass to Matt Landers, coupled with a hands to the face penalty on Liberty, set up a 50-yard field goal by Cam Little as time expired.
Meanwhile, the Flames didn’t have much trouble moving the ball against Arkansas’ defense once it got into a groove.
After punts on its first three possessions, Liberty found the end zone in three of its next four drives. Each of them were capped by touchdown passes by Johnathan Bennett, who began the season as the Flames’ third-team quarterback, to three different receivers.
One of the touchdowns was caught by Demario Douglas, who has been Liberty’s top target with six receptions for 103 yards. Bennett is 10 of 17 passing for 152 yards and three scores, while Jefferson is just 8 of 15 for 115 yards and has an interception.
The pick came on Arkansas’ penultimate drive of the half, when it was finally starting to move the ball.
Rocket Sanders ripped off three straight runs that gained 50 yards, after his first nine runs resulted in a loss of 5 yards, and the Razorbacks took a shot into the end zone. Trey Knox appeared to bobbled the ball and Daijahn Anthony came down with it for Jefferson’s second interception of the season.
Arkansas Football Stats – First Half
- KJ Jefferson: 8 of 15, 115 yards, 1 INT; 4 carries, minus-13 yards
- Rocket Sanders: 12 carries, 45 yards
- AJ Green: 3 carries, 31 yards
- Jadon Haselwood: 4 receptions, 37 yards
- Matt Landers: 2 receptions, 58 yards
- Warren Thompson: 2 receptions, 20 yards
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