October of discontent ends in 1 kick for Hogs

Posted: October 29, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

Arkansas kicker Connor Limpert kicks a 34-yard field goal with 4 seconds remaining in the Razorbacks' 38-37 win over Ole Miss on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2017, in Oxford, Miss.

OXFORD, Miss. -- They had more opportunities than Bill Gates at a job fair.

Staring at an ugly streak of 18 consecutive losses when trailing at halftime, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville had its back against the wall Saturday.

The cold reality of being the only winless team in the SEC West was all too real when the Hogs trailed Ole Miss 31-7 early in the second quarter.

Fast forward -- although it wasn't fast -- to seven seconds on the clock when Connor Limpert kicked a 34-yard field goal, and suddenly the Razorbacks were 1-0 when trailing at the half and tied with the Rebels in the SEC standings at 1-4.

October had been Hades for the Hogs, who were outscored 141-51 in three SEC losses this month until Limpert's field goal.

Arkansas suddenly got lucky. It cut into the 24-point deficit after an Ole Miss fumble turned into a Razorback touchdown after a 10-play drive. Later in the second quarter, an interception and 54-yard return by Josh Liddell put the Hogs at the Ole Miss 21. After a sack, Cole Kelley hooked up with Deon Stewart for a 23-yard touchdown and a 31-21 score at the half.

The Razorbacks closed to within three early in the third quarter by driving 73 yards on eight plays, with the touchdown coming on a 9-yard throw to Cheyenne O'Grady.

The Hogs defense had given up 415 yards in the first half but clamped down in the second half, holding the Rebels to 151 yards and just two field goals, but Ole Miss was leading 37-28 and had the ball with 6:01 to play.

Time, it seemed, was on the Rebels' side, but on first down they fumbled and Kevin Richardson scooped and scored, going 22 yards, and all the Hogs needed to do was hold the Rebels one final time, which they did. With 4:04 to play and trailing 37-35, the Hogs took over on their own 22.

They ran it out to the 39, and on third and 6, the Hogs made their own luck with Kelley passing 7 yards to O'Grady with less than two minutes to play. With 1:08 left, the Hogs faced fourth and 4 but an incompletion was wiped out by defensive pass interference.

Arkansas was nailed for holding on first down, but Kelley then passed 19 yards to Jonathan Nance and bulled ahead for 6 yards and a first down.

It appeared the Hogs had messed up on first down from the 26 when David Williams ran wide and was tackled with seven seconds left at the 17, leaving it to their kicker.

The Hogs took a timeout and sent Limpert and the field goal team onto the field. The next few minutes were spent with Ole Miss trying to ice the sophomore kicker, but each of the three timeouts it took gave Limpert a practice kick.

With everything on the line, he nailed it and the Hogs had their first lead in the month of October.

All things considered, it wasn't pitiful or pretty.

It was just two teams who are trying to avoid the cellar. Two teams with backup quarterbacks and plenty of other injuries.

They combined for 1,015 yards of offense, otherwise known as a lack of defense. Arkansas' leading rusher was seldom seen T.J. Hammonds, who had 84 yards on 11 carries. Kelley was sacked four times, and the Hogs suffered six more tackles for a loss.

The first half was so ugly and one-sided it wouldn't have come as a surprise if ESPN had canceled its SEC Network contract.

Yet, given golden opportunity after golden opportunity, the Razorbacks kept grinding. With a season of frustration on their backs, the Hogs took advantage of everything offered and came away with the win.

Sometimes it is better to be lucky than good, and Saturday was one of those days for the Razorbacks.

Sports on 10/29/2017