OXFORD, Miss. — Arkansas defeated Ole Miss, 38-37, Saturday at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.
Connor Limpert kicked a game-winning field goal from 34 yards with 4 seconds remaining to give the Razorbacks (3-5, 1-4 SEC) their first lead of the game. Arkansas trailed 31-7 in the first half before rallying for the win. The Hogs will host Coastal Carolina next Saturday.
Here’s how SEC Country graded the performance of each position group from the victory on Saturday:
Arkansas’ offensive line played its best game of the season. The Hogs rushed for a season-high 260 yards with three running backs rushing for at least 52 yards. T.J. Hammonds led the way with 84 yards on 11 carries.
The line also blocked exceptionally well on a handful of successful screen passes and gave quarterback Cole Kelley adequate time on most of his drop-back passes. By normal standards, it was a slightly above-average day for an offensive line. By the standards of this offensive line, it was a great day.
Third down conversions and red zone performance were also major keys to the victory. The Hogs converted 12 of 19 third downs and scored on all four trips to the red zone.
Arkansas trailed, 31-7, with just under 9 minutes remaining in the second quarter. To that point, the Hogs defense had been about as awful as it gets. Ole Miss executed plays of 26, 28, 31, 44, 49 and 64 yards. There was nothing to suggest Arkansas had any shot at stopping the Rebels.
But with 8 minutes and 30 seconds to play in the second quarter, junior safety Santos Ramirez made what coach Bret Bielema called the biggest play of the season. The team captain stripped the ball loose from Rebels receiver Octavious Cooley as he broke free for what would’ve another gain of more than 25 yards. The Hogs recovered and promptly drove for a touchdown. Ole Miss’ following possession ended in an interception by senior safety Josh Liddell, who returned it 54 yards to set up another Arkansas touchdown.
Suddenly, thanks to a huge play from Ramirez, the Hogs were well on their way to rallying for the victory.
The second half was a vast improvement as Arkansas limited Ole Miss to 151 yards after allowing 415 yards in the first half. It wasn’t pretty overall, but it was good enough to win, especially when it mattered most.
Special teams: A+
Limpert, a sophomore kicker, was the hero. He nailed a game-winning field goal from 34 yards with only 4 seconds left. Considering all of Arkansas’ kicking woes over the last three seasons, that’s something that should excite Razorbacks fans.
Kick returner De’Vion Warren was exceptional as well. A week after returning a kick 100 yards for a touchdown, the freshman returned 5 kicks for an average of 28 yards per return. His longest return was 45 yards. He gives Arkansas a spark it hasn’t had in some time returning kicks.
The coaching staff made halftime adjustments as the Hogs finally broke their second-half curse. Under Bielema, they hadn’t won a game when trailing at halftime in 18 tries coming into Saturday. They also hadn’t outscored an opponent in their past 10 games against FBS teams. Both of those streaks were snapped Saturday, and the adjustments made by the staff after the horrible start were a major reason why.
The start was extremely ugly. The finish was incredibly strong. Overall, that equates to an average performance with a slight bump for pulling out a much-needed win.