Arkansas Razorbacks End Six-Game Skid With Overtime Win

arkansas-razorbacks

KJ Jefferson and Tyrone Broden connected for a 4-yard touchdown in overtime to lead Arkansas to a 39-36 victory at Florida on Saturday after a six-game losing streak. It was the Razorbacks’ first victory in the Swamp in six attempts.

The Arkansas Razorbacks (3-6, 1-5 SEC) ended Florida’s five-game winning streak at home and may have eliminated the Gators (5-4, 3-3) from bowl contention in troubled coach Billy Napier’s second season. This was Kenny Guiton’s first game in charge of playcalling duties following a staff shakeup at Arkansas.

Guiton took over for offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach Dan Enos on October 22, just before the team had a bye week. Enos was fired after the team lost to Mississippi State 7-3.

On Saturday, Jefferson ran for 92 yards and a touchdown in addition to throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns. Though most of his damage was done in the fourth quarter, the highlight play was a 20-yard scamper in overtime by Jefferson that took several defenders by surprise. Two plays later, he found Broden for the winning play.

“It’s a big deal to come to Florida and win,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “They earned that. We have never had a bad football team. We’ve had some bad luck and bad coaching mistakes but never a bad team.”

At the end of regulation, Trey Smack had a chance to win it for Florida, but he missed a 44-yard field goal attempt wide right.

Given their problems throughout the season, it was not surprising that Florida’s special teams were largely a disaster. In the third quarter, the Gators missed an extra point, and an illegal substitution penalty made Smack’s attempt five yards longer than anticipated.

Under Napier, the Gators had been aiming to regain bowl eligibility. At this point, victory number six seems unlikely at best.

Florida’s final three regular-season games are against No. 13 LSU, No. 14 Missouri, and No. 4 Florida State at home. This is a daunting stretch for Napier’s team, as they may be double-digit underdogs in each contest.

Early on, Arkansas appeared to be a dominant team. After stripping Ricky Pearsall, Jaylon Braxton returned a fumble 33 yards for a score on the following play, as the Razorbacks drove 75 yards for a touchdown on their opening possession. Before the Gators had a first down, the score was 14-0.

However, Florida came back and capitalized on multiple short fields to not only tie the score but also take the lead in the second half.

Raheim “Rocket” Sanders’ comeback aided Arkansas’s cause. In his 18 carries, he finished with 103 yards after his knee injury. Sanders had missed five of the previous seven games and the previous two against Arkansas. In 2022, the preseason All-American choice scored 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns on the ground.