Rapid Reaction: Second-half heavy Razorbacks pull off upset over Vols
For a half, Arkansas was struggling and Tennessee was in pretty good shape. The Vols held a 13-0 advantage over Arkansas at intermission, but the Razorbacks exploded for a 24-0 second half to grab the victory over a struggling Tennessee squad.
Tennessee opened the scoring with a 50 yard field goal from Brett Cimaglia after a 12 play 42 yard drive to open the game. The Vols stretched their advantage with a 1 yard scoring run from Eric Gray to cap a 16 play, 81 yard drive early in the second quarter. Gray topped 100 yards rushing, and Tennessee took advantage of a stingy defense and an opportunistic offense in the first half. The Vols again benefited from a big kick from Cimaglia when he connected on a 48 yard field goal with 1:57 to play in the first half to make it 13-0 at intermission.
But in the second half, Arkansas flipped the script, allowing almost no offensive movement by Tennessee. Feleipe Franks fired a trio of third quarter touchdown passes to swing the game. His first, to Mike Woods from 1 yard out, capped a 17 play, 75 yard drive to open the second half. After a three and out by the Vols, Franks hit a 56 yard bomb to Woods before reaching the end zone with a 6 yard strike to Blake Kern. The extra point game Arkansas a lead it would never relinquish.
Franks was superb, passing for 215 yards on 18 of 24 passing, and generally managing the offense well throughout the game. His third score came another UT three and out, with the Vols beginning to shuffle QBs. Arkansas followed the Tennessee punt with a 22 yard run and then a Franks-to-Treylon Burks 59 yard pass that extended the Razorback lead to 21-13.
From there, the two defenses essentially traded blows. Tennessee played not only Jarrett Guarantano (5 for 8 for 42 yards), but backups Brian Maurer (0 for 4) and Harrison Bailey (6 for 9 for 65 yards but 2 interceptions) without any improvement in offense. The Razorbacks did add a 48 yard field goal from A.J. Reed in the final seconds of the third quarter. Reed have previously missed a 21 yard kick just before halftime.
Arkansas continued its usual formula, playing physical defense which held UT to just 292 total yards while avoiding significant offensive mistakes. UT’s two interceptions were the only turnovers of the game.
The win improves Arkansas to 3-3 ahead of next week’s trip to Florida. The Gators could well be overconfident off their beatdown of Georgia. Meanwhile, Tennessee drops to 2-4, and will host Texas A&M next week in what looks to be a significant challenge for the Vols, who are almost certainly facing a losing season.