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FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas dialed up another stellar defensive performances to win its first SEC home game in four years Saturday afternoon.
The Razorbacks intercepted six passes – including three by walk-on Hudson Clark – and hung on for a 33-21 win over Ole Miss. They hadn’t won a conference game at home since beating No. 10 Florida in 2016.
It was the most interceptions by Arkansas since 2003, when it also had six against Mississippi State.
Entering the game with one of the most explosive offenses in the country and having turned the ball over just once in their first three games, the Rebels lost seven turnovers and managed just 21 points – about half of its season average.
Senior Grant Morgan put the exclamation point on the victory when he picked off Corral and returned it 23 yards for a score. Clark’s third interception officially sealed it and the Razorbacks eventually went into victory formation at the 1-yard line.
Things did not go well for Arkansas early on, though.
After yet another three-and-out on their opening drive, the Razorbacks gave Ole Miss excellent field position with a 28-yard punt by Reid Bauer.
As they’ve done all year, the Rebels immediately started marching down the field. They got all the way down to the 1-yard line, but Jerrion Ealy was stuffed on third down and then Matt Corral fumbled the ball on fourth down.
The goal-line stop was the start of a momentum shift. Ole Miss seemed to get another three-and-out on the ensuing possession, but was penalized for roughing the punter.
With new life, the Razorbacks’ offense finally got going. Trelon Smith had a couple of nice runs and then Franks completed a pass to Burks, who turned up the sideline and gained 55 yards on the play.
Inside the red zone, Arkansas turned to its ground game. Five straight runs – one by Smith and four by Rakeem Boyd – were capped when Boyd punched it into the end zone from 1 yard out. The Razorbacks’ first rushing touchdown of the season gave them a 7-0 lead.
The Razorbacks’ defense took over at that point. They forced three punts, notched a turnover on downs and picked off two passes by Corral – who had thrown just one interception in the first three games – on Ole Miss’ next six possessions before halftime.
Making his second straight start, Clark came down with the first interception and Arkansas turned it into points with a 23-yard field goal by A.J. Reed.
On the Rebels’ very next possession, Jalen Catalon – who recovered the fumble near the goal line – jumped a route and returned the interception 35 yards for Arkansas’ second pick-six in three weeks.
Following a three-and-out forced by their defense, the Razorbacks drove inside the red zone again before settling for a 32-yard field goal by Reed. That gave them a 20-0 lead going into halftime.
Despite playing one of the most explosive offenses in the country, Arkansas held an SEC opponent scoreless in the first half for the first time since posting back-to-back shutouts against LSU and Ole Miss in 2014.
The second half started similarly. Ole Miss received the opening kickoff and drove it right down the field before stalling out near the goal line. Myles Mason and Greg Brooks Jr. combined to stop Snoop Conner on fourth-and-goal from the 1.
This time, Arkansas’ offense couldn’t capitalize. It did manage one first down, but Burks dropped what would have been a third-down conversion to keep the drive alive.
Given the ball again, the Rebels finally put points on the board. They converted a key third and fourth down before Corral hit Elijah Moore for a 7-yard touchdown. That pulled Ole Miss within 20-7.
A string of four straight turnovers started after that score. Franks fumbled and gave the Rebels the ball back in the red zone, but Greg Brooks Jr. got the ball back with an interception.
Arkansas seemed to move the ball well on its next possession, but De’Vion Warren tipped a pass into the air and the ball fell into Jon Haynes’ arms. Franks had gone 86 straight attempts without throwing an interception.
The Razorbacks got the ball back when Clark jumped over the receiver he was defending and came down with his second interception of the game.
Unfortunately, the Razorbacks still couldn’t do anything on offense. They went three-and-out and Ole Miss made them pay.
It took the Rebels just eight plays and 2:34 to cover 66 yards. Jonathan Mingo hauled in a 21-yard pass from Corral to pull them within 20-14 with 12:06 remaining.
Desperately needing to move the ball, Arkansas put together an 11-play, 70-yard drive to answer Ole Miss’ score. Burks capped it with a spectacular one-handed grab in the corner of the end zone. The two-point try failed, so the Razorbacks led 26-14.
Burks finished the game with 11 receptions for 137 yards – the most by an Arkansas player in an SEC game since Jared Cornelius had 146 against Alabama in 2016.
The defense seemingly forced a three-and-out on the ensuing possession by the Rebels, but they were caught the Razorbacks off guard with a fake punt that not only moved the chains, but also gained 47 yards.
Three Ealy runs later and with 5:30 left, Ole Miss was in the end zone to pull within 26-21. Arkansas had to punt the ball back to the Rebels with 3:46 remaining, but on the second play of their potential game-winning drive, Morgan had the aforementioned pick-six.