Johnson, Hamilton lead Arkansas past Tulsa 19-15
11/03/2012 8:01 PM
11/03/2012 8:02 PM
Dennis Johnson and Cobi Hamilton made the plays Arkansas needed most — keeping Arkansas' slim bowl chances alive and once again crushing upstart Tulsa's hopes in the process.
Johnson rushed for 109 yards and two touchdowns, and Hamilton set the school's single-season receptions record, as the Razorbacks rallied for a 19-15 win over the Golden Hurricane on Saturday afternoon.
The win keeps the slim bowl chances alive for the Razorbacks (4-5) with three games remaining, and it extends their winning streak to 18 games over a Golden Hurricane (7-2) team that appeared ready to take down its Southeastern Conference neighbor.
It was also a welcomed bit of relief after yet another disheartening loss, this one the week before to Mississippi, in a season full of disappointment for the Razorbacks — who began the season ranked in the Top 10.
"It's fun," Hamilton said. "Everything is fun. Everybody is happy. The locker room is happy. The atmosphere is happy, so you get these records and all these big games, it's fun. It's fun for me to go home and enjoy it with my teammates. It's just a great day."
Arkansas escaped with the win thanks to the efforts of Johnson and Hamilton, two seniors who have been part of the school's run of success over the last three seasons. Johnson's 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter put the Razorbacks up for good, and it came after a pair of catches by Hamilton — who finished with 11 catches for 177 yards.
Hamilton now has 69 catches for 1,077 yards this season, breaking Jarius Wright's mark of 66 catches in a season. None were bigger Saturday for Hamilton than his 41-yard catch, followed by a 14-yard grab that set up Johnson's go-ahead touchdown.
The Razorbacks' relief following the win was only equaled by Tulsa's disappointment. The Golden Hurricane had won seven straight games entering the contest, and coach Bill Blankenship and the players talked openly throughout the week about how much a win against Arkansas would mean.
Tulsa appeared poised to earn its first win over the Razorbacks since 1976 after taking a 15-13 lead in the third quarter following a 29-yard field goal by Daniel Schwarz.
The Golden Hurricane had a chance to extend that lead late in the third quarter after driving to the Arkansas 5, but quarterback Cody Green's fourth-down pass was batted down by Trey Flowers after Blankenship elected to bypass the short field goal attempt.
"We thought we had it, so it will sit bad in our stomach for a while," Green said. "We wanted it, but know we have to live with it."
The Razorbacks took advantage of the new life behind quarterback Tyler Wilson and Hamilton. Wilson, who finished 21 of 31 passing 272 yards, found Hamilton for the back-to-back catches early in the fourth quarter to take Arkansas to the Tulsa 1.
The catches were Hamilton's 67th and 68th of the season, and the senior is now just 40 yards behind Wright's school single-season yards record of 1,117.
"Cobi, what do you say about Cobi," Arkansas coach John L. Smith said. "He made a couple of plays in the second half that were just ... And great receivers will do that. Great receivers will go up and get them one-on-one, get the ball anywhere up in the air, and they should come down with it."
Johnson finished the drive with his second touchdown run of the game, and the Razorbacks held off a pair of late Golden Hurricane chances for their third win in their last four games. Arkansas must now win two of its final three games — against South Carolina, Mississippi State and LSU — to reach bowl eligibility for the fourth straight season.
Tulsa outgained Arkansas 203-158 in total yardage in the first half, and trailed 13-12 at the half after a pair of failed extra-point attempts and a missed field goal by Schwarz.
"We felt like we were outplaying them, but we didn't outscore them," Blankenship said. "Credit Arkansas for making the plays they had to make."
Green was 15 of 18 passing in the half, finding Keyarris Garrett for 10 of his completions, but he struggled in the second half and finished 22 of 37 passing for 222 yards. Garrett finished with 12 catches for 94 yards, while Trey Watts had 81 yards rushing on 19 carries and 53 yards receiving.
With the Razorbacks leading 19-15 late in the fourth quarter, kicker Zack Hocker pulled a 26-yard field goal attempt left — giving Tulsa the ball back with 3:35 remaining.
The Golden Hurricane, however, was unable to earn a first down after Green's fourth-down pass was dropped by Garrett.
Still, Tulsa had another late opportunity after Arkansas bypassed a field goal attempt and failed on a fourth-and-one on the Golden Hurricane 16 — giving Tulsa the ball back with 1:07 remaining.
That drive was put to an end when Razorbacks defensive end Chris Smith sacked Green on second down, forcing a fumble that Byran Jones recovered to a collective sigh of relief in Razorback Stadium.
"This will really help us," John L. Smith said. "You always have a little bit of ups and downs, and we have been pretty up for the entire year."
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