Arkansas beats Samford
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas on Saturday did what it couldn't last season at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium - go home with a victory.
Samford (1-1), a Southern Conference team from the Football Championship Subdivision, gave the Razorbacks a scare by taking a third quarter lead, but Arkansas was able to put the Bulldogs away for a 31-21 victory.
Arkansas (2-0) was able to pull away largely because of the running tandem of Alex Collins and Jonathan Williamson, who combined for 298 yards.
"As a group, we kind of wanted to step in there," Collins said.
Quarterback Brandon Allen, who threw for two touchdowns, said the running game kept Samford defenders on their heels, which set up the pass.
"We established the run game early on like we did last week. It really opens up the play action passes. Credit the O-line for selling it and the receivers getting open for me," Allen said. "Anytime we can pound the ball and then go play action, that's good for us."
A year ago, things didn't go nearly as well from Arkansas. Allen made an unexpected debut against Louisiana-Monroe when starter Tyler Wilson was hurt when he hit the War Memorial Stadium turf.
Louisiana-Monroe went on to win in overtime. Arkansas lost again in November, also on the game's last play, to Ole Miss.
First-year Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said the victory shows his young team is making progress.
"So many negatives that we can turn to positives these next seven days. You know, everybody in the world of college football gets 12 guaranteed games. We took two steps forward. We took a step last week when we won a game. We took a step forward (Saturday). We just can't afford to go back anymore," Bielema said.
Arkansas hosts Southern Miss on Saturday in Fayetteville.
Allen said players thought about the Louisiana-Monroe result after Samford took a 21-17 lead in the third quarter.
"Yeah, we were talking about on the sideline. We can't have the mishaps and the lull and just let the game slip away when we have it won. So, real proud we were able to come out and control the game there in the second half, late in the second half and really get that run game going and just control it," Allen said.
Collins rushed for 172 yards on 24 carries while Williams added 126 yards on 17 carries. They had a touchdown a piece.
Arkansas scored consecutive touchdowns to start the game. The first came when Allen hit Mitchell Loewen on a 24-yard pass to cap a six-play, 75-yard drive. Allen hit Javontee Herndon on a 7-yard pass for the second score.
Samford answered on a 2-yard touchdown run by Kelsey Pope.
In the second half, Collins broke a 55-yard run to set up on touchdown and Williams had a 46-yard run to set up another.
Williams ran in from the 1 to give Arkansas the lead, 24-21. Then Collins ran in from 2 yards out for the 31-21 final measure.
Fullback Kiero Small did his part blocking for Collins and Williams, but he also had a key first down with 2:01 to play that enabled the Razorbacks to run out the clock. Small had five carries for 25 yards.
Williams scored on a 1-yard run to give Arkansas a 24-21 lead with 13:38 left in the fourth quarter. Collins put the game away with a 2-yard run on a drive in which he broke loose for 55 yards.
Heading into halftime, Arkansas kicker Zack Hocker kicked a 53-yard field goal, a career long, to give the Razorbacks a 17-7 lead at the break.
Then Samford scored two consecutive touchdowns to start the third quarter and take the lead.
Andy Summerlin hit Zeke Waters on a 2-yard pass, then Fabian Truss ran 16 yards for a TD.
Samford QB Andy Summerlin threw for 117 yards and a touchdown on 19 of 28 passing. Tailback Fabian Truss finished with 103 yards on 16 carries. Summerlin hit Kelsey Pope three times for 29 yards as he spread the ball around to nine receivers. He threw to 10 players if counting a batted pass Summerlin caught on the rebound for 1-yard loss.
Samford moved the ball effectively for three quarters, but Arkansas outgained the Bulldogs 458-231 in total yards. Arkansas gained 333 yards on the ground to 114 for Samford.
Samford defensive coordinator Bill D'Ottavio said his team played well. D'Ottavio filled in for head coach Pat Sullivan, who is recovering from back surgery.
"They (Arkansas) made the plays to beat us, so you've got to give them credit. I thought their coaches did a great job adjusting, too," he said.
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