Arkansas plows over Texas to finish strong

The Sports Xchange

December 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm.

Brandon Allen (10) played well in the win over Texas. (Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports)

HOUSTON — Arkansas completed its first winning season in three years by thumping old rival Texas 31-7 Monday night in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium.

Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen passed for 160 yards and two touchdowns, and running back Jonathan Williams ran for 105 yards and another score. The Razorbacks never trailed in the game.

After two difficult seasons, Arkansas finished 2014 at 7-6 by winning three of its last four in coach Bret Bielema’s second season since leaving Wisconsin. The only late-season loss was by seven points to Southeastern Conference East champion Missouri.

Texas ended 6-7 in coach Charlie Strong’s first year in Austin.

Arkansas built a 24-7 halftime lead against its former Southwest Conference foe behind a diving 36-touchdown catch by wide receiver Demetrius Wilson early in the second quarter and a fumble recovery in the end zone by defensive tackle Taiwan Johnson.

The Razorbacks put the game away in the second half with a 13-play, 57-yard touchdown drive that ate up 8 minutes, 39 seconds. Williams scored on a 1-yard run early in the fourth quarter for a 31-7 lead.

The Longhorns’ offense couldn’t get out of its own way, gaining a mere 59 yards on 43 plays. Arkansas collected 351 yards of total offense.

Texas scored its only touchdown on a 9-yard run by quarterback Tyrone Swoopes late in the first half and managed only seven first downs in the game.

The Razorbacks led by 17 points at halftime behind a solid running game and a key Texas turnover. Arkansas outrushed the Longhorns 110 yards to 16 in the half and outgained them 217 yards to 46.

Arkansas scored first on a 32-yard field goal by Adam McFain, finishing off a 10-play, 33-yard drive. The key play occurred on third-and-10 from the Texas 37-yard line when Allen connected with wide receiver Jared Cornelius for an 11-yard gain. Cornelius fumbled, but tight end Hunter Henry recovered and advanced the ball 8 yards to the Texas 17 to set up the field goal.

The Razorbacks stretched their lead to 10-0 on a 36-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Wilson, who made a diving catch in the end zone on the second play of the second quarter.

Texas took over on its 4-yard line midway through the second quarter following an Arkansas punt. Longhorns tailback Johnathan Gray fumbled on the first play, without being hit, and Johnson recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and a 17-0 lead.

The Longhorns finally got on the scoreboard with 3:57 left in the half. Swoopes led Texas down the field, then completed the 44-yard drive with a touchdown run to cut the deficit to 17-7.

Arkansas finished off the first half with a 61-yard drive, climaxed by Allen’s 5-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Keon Hatcher with 24 seconds remaining.

NOTES: The schools met for the first time since a 52-10 Texas win in 2008 at Austin. … Texas and Arkansas played each other for 60 consecutive years as members of the Southwest Conference before the Razorbacks left for the Southeastern Conference following the 1991 season. … The only previous meeting in a bowl game was the 2000 Cotton Bowl, when Arkansas won 27-6. … Oregon beat Texas 30-7 in last season’s Alamo Bowl in Mack Brown’s final game as coach of the Longhorns. … Arkansas last played in a bowl game at the end of the 2011 season, beating Kansas State 29-16 at the Cotton Bowl in Bobby Petrino’s last game as coach with the Razorbacks. … Texas finished 5-4 in the Big 12 this season. Arkansas went 2-6 in the SEC, shutting out LSU and Mississippi back-to-back in a pair of November upsets. … Texas still leads the all-time series 56-22. … The retractable roof was closed for the game on a cold night.