FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Arkansas improved to 5-2 on the season and 1-2 in SEC play with a thrilling 34-30 home victory Saturday over Ole Miss.
There were several Razorback players who made the victory possible, but here’s a quick look at the five biggest:
5) K Adam McFain, Sr.
McFain replaced sophomore Cole Hedlund as the Hogs’ kicker last week and drilled two field goals against the Rebels, the first of which was from 43 yards. That may seem like something a kicker should be able to do — and it is — but make no mistake: In a 4-point victory, two field goals are the difference. And there’s plenty of reason to believe that if Hedlund was still kicking field goals for the Hogs, they might have lost this game.
4) RB Rawleigh Williams III, So.
Williams rushed for a career-high 180 yards on 27 carries and also “caught” a touchdown pass, which came on an option play near the goal line. Technically, Allen pushed the ball forward to Williams, so the play was ruled a pass. It was Williams’ first career touchdown reception.
3) QB Austin Allen, Jr.
Yes, Allen’s fourth-quarter interception — which was the result of intense pressure — set up Ole Miss’ go-ahead touchdown. But once again, Allen was clutch when it mattered the most and led his team to a victory. He finished with 229 passing yards and 3 touchdowns. He spread the ball around to eight different receivers. If the offensive line continues to improve and doesn’t take a major step back next year, this guy could be great.
2) WR Keon Hatcher, Sr.
The senior from Owasso, Okla., is proving to be an incredible clutch receiver. He made a huge 10-yard catch on fourth-and-4 that extended the Razorbacks’ game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. Then three plays later, his 11-yard reception converted a third-and-9.
Hatcher’s size (6-foot-2, 207 pounds) and skills make him an ideal target for NFL teams looking for a possible bargain in the middle or late rounds of next spring’s draft. He might not have the name recognition because of the foot injury that cost him nearly all of the 2015 season or overall statistical numbers that stand out.
But this guy is damn good.
1) SS Santos Ramirez, So.
Ramirez has been criticized a whole lot over the past couple of years, and much of it was deserved. He even missed a tackle on a play that became a second-quarter Ole Miss touchdown.
But this guy came up huge in the final minutes of the Hogs’ victory. He made several big hits that prevented the Rebels from getting even 1 first down in the final 8 or so minutes of the game.
None was bigger than on 4th-and-16 with around two minutes to play. The Hogs held a 4-point lead when Ole Miss quarterback Chad Kelly scrambled out of the backfield and appeared headed toward a first down that would have kept the Rebels’ hopes alive. But Ramirez’s helmet landed squarely on the football, forcing a fumble that secured Arkansas’ win.
Maybe this was just the confidence boost Ramirez needed to become the player many around the program believe he can be.