Published September 9, 2012 - 3:26pm
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It was a devastating loss, one that deals a serious blow to hopes of a BCS bowl game and knocked Arkansas completely out of the AP Top 25.
In short, Kolton Browning is a name Razorback fans won’t soon forget on a nightmarish night in Little Rock.
Louisiana-Monroe’s dual-threat quarterback accounted for 481 yards of offense during the Warhawks’ shocking 35-31 win Saturday, delivering the death blow on 4th-and-1 in overtime with a 16-yard touchdown run.
Louisiana-Monroe threw caution to the wind in a gutsy second-half and overtime performance, erasing a 21-point deficit to capture the program’s first win over a ranked team since joining the FBS in 1994. Nursing a one-score lead throughout the fourth quarter, the Razorback offense sputtered when needed most, going 3-and-out three times and turning it over with a chance to get into game-winning field goal range on its fifth possession of the frame.
Herald Arkansas tailback Knile Davis mustered just 62 yards on 16 carries and looked tentative in the second half with the game’s outcome in doubt. Freshman quarterback Brandon Allen, Tyler Wilson’s replacement after he left the game in the second quarter with an injury, completed 6-of-20 passes for 85 yards.
The ineptitude on offense coupled with a defense that didn’t have an answer for Louisiana-Monroe’s spread created a recipe for disaster and set up Browning’s career-defining moment thus far. After the Razorbacks kicked a field goal on their first overtime possession, the Warhawks elected to go for it on fourth down — for the seventh time of the contest — from inside the 20 rather than attempt a game-tying kick.
Browning rolled to his left and noticed the Razorbacks had bottled up the called shovel pass. He reversed field, saw an opening, and sprinted to the corner of the end zone to shock the home fans at War-Memorial Stadium. Arkansas’ players were stunned after one of the SEC’s top teams had just been embarrassed on national television.
The visiting sideline erupted in jubilation.
“(Browning) did a great job,” Arkansas coach John L. Smith said. “He made play after play after play after play after play. … We couldn’t tackle him, we couldn’t stop him.”
Up next for the Warhawks is a trip to Auburn to face a Tigers squad trying to avoid an 0-3 start. A loss to Louisiana-Monroe would create problems for Gene Chizik who manages a program that is only a few games over .500 since Cam Newton’s departure. Arkansas — perhaps without Wilson — gets top-ranked Alabama in a game that has certainly lost its Top 10 luster. Should Allen start under center, Alabama would be a likely three-touchdown favorite.