Razorbacks, Jefferson Subdue Gators in Overtime

Ken Cross

November 07, 2023 at 12:36 pm.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – At points during Arkansas’ 39-36 overtime win over Florida on Saturday, the game felt like two teams going in opposite directions. The outcome of the schedules might have disproved this idea though.

Arkansas came into one of Saturday’s most dramatic games with six losses in a row … and five of those were by seven points or less. The only other loss was a 34-22 decision against Texas A&M in Dallas where the Razorbacks battled the Aggies throughout the game.

On the flip side, Florida was looking for its sixth win which would have qualified them for a postseason bowl bid. A tough end of the schedule sees the Gators travel to No. 12 Missouri and No. 14 LSU before No. 4 Florida State heads to The Swamp to bring down the curtain on what has been another un-Gator-like season.

Arkansas has struggled on both sides of the ball as in most games, neither the offense nor the defense could take over when the Razorbacks were problematic on either side of the ball.

Saturday was different as quarterback KJ Jefferson completed 20-of-31 passes for 255 yards and two scores while rushing for 92 yards on 17 carries and another touchdown.

Rocket Sanders was the perfect complement in the Arkansas running attack as he had by far his best game of the season with 102 yards on 18 carries. He has missed five games with an injured knee after rushing for 1,443 yards and 10 touchdowns last season.

“To be the first (Razorback) team to ever win here is a big deal,” said Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman. “Congratulations to (offensive coordinator) Kenny Guyton. He did a great job. We had the most yards we have had all season. We’re really excited about the win.”

Pittman was elated about Guyton’s communication with the players.

“He’s got a little swag about him, and a lot of charisma to him, and kids believe in him,” noted Pittman. “I said last week we lost our edge and passion on offense. Evidently, you can get it back because we had it back today.”

Jefferson drove the Razorbacks late as he pushed them 44 yards on eight

plays and kicker Cam Little connected on a 49-yard field goal to tie the game at 33-33 with 46 seconds remaining. Little’s field goal forced the OT after the Gators’ Trey Smack missed from 44 yards with three seconds remaining.

In overtime, the Razorbacks’ offense and defense complemented each other well.

Arkansas used solid pressure from linebacker Trajan Jeffcoat to hurry Florida quarterback Graham Mertz into an incompletion on first down.

Two plays later, Hogs defensive back Jayden Johnson broke up a third-down pass from Mertz to Arlis Boardingham. The result then was Smack’s 39-yard field goal.

Jefferson then ran for 20 yards up the middle before Raheim Sanders found 11 yards to the Florida four-yard line. Jefferson then threw the game-winner to Tyrone Broaden in the middle of the end zone; hence, the 39-36 win.

“To be that excited, they had to earn that,” acknowledged Pittman. “We never have had a bad football team. We have had some bad luck, bad results and bad coaching by me.”