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Hogs Get to Be Apollo from Original Rocky, Avoid Rocky II

Petrino, Shelley prove formidable underdogs in wild game at Razorback Stadium
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FAYETTEVILLE – All week long we talked about how Jason Shelley's skills made him a terrible match-up for Arkansas as receivers tend to run free, and unlike the previous two quarterbacks Arkansas faced, Shelley has tremendous accuracy on the deep ball. 

He also is very athletic. Combine Shelley with a determined Bobby Petrino who has out-coached many college coaches, and the recipe was there for a long night. 

Fans were warned to expect to stick around until the fourth quarter instead of getting an early start to crashing Dixon Street, and that's exactly what happened.

In a fight that swung back and forth like it was ripped straight out of the original Rocky movie, Arkansas was glad to come away with the win, and in the words of the immortal Apollo Creed, "Ain't gonna be no rematch."

That is, until 2025.

There was even a Rocky IV moment as the crowd turned on Arkansas coach Sam Pittman twice, raining down boos for choices with which they didn't agree, including a rather unusual play call on a 4th & 9 attempt.

Petrino played it by his typical script. Play after play perfectly mirrored so many memorable plays from the late 2000s. The 4th & 1 home run ball was straight out of ULM 2008. 

In a moment of balance, Rocket Sanders finished with 167 yards on 22 carries, the exact amount E.D. Jackson had in the infamous upset by The Citadel. Quarterback KJ Jefferson finished with 385 yards. 

Arkansas needed every inch in a game where Missouri State dominated for over three quarters.

The win allows the Hogs to head into Dallas Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas to face the Texas A&M Aggies with an undefeated record and a mountain of teachable film. 

It will be an interesting week for Sam Pittman and his team.

Pregame:

It's a warm one at Razorback Stadium. As of 5 p.m. it hasn't gotten below 91 degrees this afternoon. However, the shadows are getting long, which should provide a great deal of relief for all the Arkansas fans looking to suffer through an entire game in a Bobby Petrino neck brace in hopes of trolling the former coach.

Both Andy Hodges and Kent Smith will give you video updates along with images and notes throughout the game.

A young Razorback fans puts on the war paint as he prepares to watch his first ever Arkansas football game in person.

A young Razorback fans puts on the war paint as he prepares to watch his first ever Arkansas football game in person.

Pre-Game Analysis with Hodges & Smith

First Quarter

15:00, 1Q 0-0

Bobby Petrino-Sam Pittman

A penalty on the opening kick-off starts Missouri State deep in its own territory, but the ability to get around the end on Arkansas has pushed the Bears out of the shadow of their own end zone to the Missouri State 24.

Shelley had a receiver pull away at the 50-yard line on a deep pass, but the receiver dropped it, forcing third down. However, he finds Jahod Booker over the middle for a fresh set of downs.

11:52, 1Q (0-0)

Shelley continues to pick apart this Arkansas secondary as the Bears make their way to midfield. However, the secondary finally holds, giving Marcus Henderson time to finally get to Shelley in the backfield to force 3rd and 16. 

Shelley scrambled on the next play and threw across his body to an open receiver, but couldn't make the connection. Arkansas will have its first possession of the game.

10:50 1Q (0-0)

Big Play Alert

Arkansas gets a huge return from Bryce Stephens on the punt. Unfortunately, the Hogs were hit with a holding call and will start inside their own 30-yard line.

The Razorbacks respond with a quick three and out as Jefferson goes a little low to Haselwood over the middle, resulting in a drop.

Arkansas punts and Missouri State will take over at the 20.

So far the first round goes to the Bears.

9:50 1Q (0-0)

Jordan Domineck continues to make his presence felt. Five-yard sack of Shelley on the first play of the drive. 

Arkansas barely misses blocking the punt. Stephens gets a decent return, but once again the Hogs punish themselves with another special teams flag. This will move a return to the Arkansas 42 back to the 30-yard line.

7:59 1Q (0-0)

Big Play Alert

Arkansas finally gets something positive on defense as Jefferson hits Matt Landers over the middle for 26 yards. However, success isn't the Razorback way today. On the following play, Jefferson takes off on a quarterback draw and ends up fumbling to Missouri State at the 36-yard line.

On third down, Shelley scrambles and throws across the middle to Naveon Mitchell to the Arkansas 46-yard line for a first down. Shelley then hit Kevon Latulas who spun away to move Missouri State into field goal range at the Arkansas 29-yard line.

The Hogs tried to build momentum on defense with a huge hit in the backfield, but Shelley hit Jordan Jones on the wheel route to get a first down at the 15 and then scrambled to the five to set up 1st & goal.

Big Play Alert

Jason Shelley-Missouri State

Shelley scrambled and looked like he might get in, but he was clocked at the 1-yard line to set up 3rd and Goal. He then hit Jacardia Wright as he pushed across the corner of the end zone for the touchdown.

Jacardia Wright-Missouri State

Missouri St. 7, Arkansas 0 (1Q, 2:47)

Arkansas will begin its drive at the 25 hoping to find a spark in what has been an anemic offense today. The Razorback offensive line is struggling to get push along the line of scrimmage.

Big Play Alert

Jefferson drops a perfect pass into the hands of Ketron Jackson for 64 yards. However, when Jackson stretched to try to get the touchdown, the ball came loose. It was recovered by Missouri State in the end zone. The play is now under review.

The tackle at the 1-yard line was confirmed and the Hogs are now in scoring position.

Big Play Alert

Arkansas apparently wanted to make up for not giving up another fumble on the previous play. Rocket Sanders rolled over a Missouri State defender's back and fumbled into the end zone. The Bears recovered and will take over at their own 20-yard line.

End of First Quarter
MISSOURI STATE 7, ARKANSAS 0

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Second Quarter

15:00, 2Q (0-7)

Missouri State will open the quarter with 3rd & 5 just shy of the Missouri State 25-yard line. 

Big Play Alert

Shelley finds Mitchell over the middle who breaks free 45 yards. He then threw a perfect pass into the corner of the end zone that was simply dropped, helping Arkansas avoid going down 14-0 at the moment. 

Jose Pizano kicks it right down the middle from 28 yards to extend the Missouri State lead.

MISSOURI STATE 10, ARKANSAS 0, 2Q (13:29)

Arkansas tries to get something going, but an offensive pass interference on 3rd down deep in their own territory to force 3rd down. The Bears then get a big return on the punt and will set up shop at the Arkansas 45-yard line.

12:00, 2Q (10-0)

Shelley finds his tight end all alone for a first down at the Arkansas 30-yard line.

Bumper Pool just made ESPN. Shelley spun the linebacker right onto his keister and then housed it from 24 yards out to make it 17-0. Missouri State went 45 yards on four plays and it could have been done in three if Shelley's receiver had tried to high point the ball on the play before.

MISSOURI STATE 17, ARKANSAS 0, 2Q (10:36)

Finally Missouri State has the attention of the Arkansas offense. Jefferson hit Landers for 20, followed by big runs by Rocket Sanders to carry Arkansas to the Missouri State 5-yard line. 

Raheim Sanders-Missouri State

Big Play Alert

Rocket Sanders literally walked in from three yards out to finally get Arkansas on the board. That was the first time all game the offensive line has asserted its will. Sanders accounted for 55 of the 75 yards on the drive over five carries.

MISSOURI STATE 17, ARKANSAS 7 2Q (8:25)

8:25, 2Q (7-17)

Shelley wastes no time going back to work in the passing game. He completes  a pass to set up a reasonable second down and then scrambles to set up 3rd & 1. Petrino then calls a rare running play for running back Jacardia Wright who runs over Chris Paul for the first down at the Missouri State 38-yard line.

Keep an eye on the wheel route going forward. The Arkansas secondary hasn't shown a willingness to cover it on fakes.

Arkansas finally catches a break on defense as Shelley's pass is too hot to handle over the middle.

4:47 2Q (7-17)

Arkansas takes over just shy of their own 20.

Jefferson immediately whips a pass over a falling referee to Sanders for 24 yards. He then leaves one off the fingertips of Trey Knox along the right sideline that would have been a huge gain.

Jefferson hit a wide open Warren Thompson between the numbers a yard shy of the first down marker, but he dropped the pass trying to make a play before securing the catch. The Missouri State defense then got to Jefferson to force 4th & 9. However, Pittman is opting to go for it.

Arkansas decides to hand the ball off up the middle which falls woefully short. Missouri State takes over at the Arkansas 34-yard line while boos rain down from everywhere.

The Razorbacks are able to hold after the Bears drive to the 40. Pittman called a timeout with just under two minutes to play in the half. That will allow Arkansas a chance to pull within three at the half if the offense can get moving again.

Big Play Alert

Jefferson hits Landers for 47 yards and then finds Haselwood all alone in a Wal-Mart parking lot for the final 38 to complete the 2-play, 85-yard 16 second drive.

MISSOURI STATE 17, ARKANSAS 14, 2Q (1:04)

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END OF THE 1ST HALF

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FIRST HALF STATS

Passing: 

Mo. St. – Jason Shelley 14-27-176-0-0

Ark. – KJ Jefferson 9-15-237-1-0

Rushing:

Mo. St. – 11-33-1

Ark. – Rocket Sanders 6-10-1 

Receiving:

Mo. St. – Naveon Mitchell 2-63-0

Ark. – Matt Landers 4-97-0

First Half Analysis by Hodges & Smith

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3rd Quarter

15:00, 3Q (17-14)

Arkansas gets the ball to start the quarter hoping to build off the momentum of a huge finish to the first half. Jefferson settles in with short passes that drive Arkansas to the 40.

Big Play Alert

The Razorbacks pick up where they left off to start the first half by turning the ball over. Jefferson hits Trey Knox over the middle, but the ball slips through his hands into the hands of Missouri State's Tahj Chambers.

12:44, 3Q (17-14)

Shelley moves Missouri State down the field into scoring range again, but a cruicial first down play on 3rd down that would have put the Bears at the Arkansas 20 resulted in a penalty the drive Missouri State back to the 48-yard line and it is now deafening in Razorback Stadium. Another penalty pushes the Bears into their own side of the field. 

The Arkansas defense holds as Drew Sanders comes up with a big hit on a screen pass.

10:04 3Q (17-14)

Arkansas gets the stop, but is pinned deep in its own territory at the 7-yard line to begin this drive. Rocket Sanders immediately takes care of that issue with a run to the Arkansas 24-yard line.

Jefferson then hits Haselwood for a quick 9-yard gain.

Another run by Sanders and a quick hitter to Jefferson's security blanket, Matt Landers, and Arkansas has quickly flipped the field. It's 1st & 10 at the Missouri State 42-yard line.

Hogs faced a crucial 3rd & 4. Jefferson found Knox in the flat who looked it in this time and Arkansas is set up with first down at the 27, well within Cam Little's range.

Jefferson had Rocket Sanders open as he pulled away on a wheel route and drifted into the end zone. However, he didn't see him, which set up 3rd & 15 from the Missouri State 32. 

On the following play, Jefferson scrambled up the middle and was pulled down from behind shy of the first down in a nasty looking tackle. Flags were thrown for horse collar, Jefferson looks OK, and the Hogs have 1st & 10 from the 11.

6:07, 3Q (10-17)

Hogs are facing 3rd & 7 from just inside the 9-yard line. They have a chance to either take the lead or tie. Jefferson had Thompson all alone on the right side with open field to at least get a first down. Instead, he opted to wait and wait, choosing to not tuck and run. 

The incomplete pass over the middle brought on Little, who booted the 27-yard field goal to tie things up.

ARKANSAS 17, MISSOURI STATE 17, 3Q (5:36)

Missouri State starts at the 25 to begin the drive. Shelley immediately hits Jacadia Wright in the flat for 19 yards to set up shop at the Bears' 44-yard line. Wright then ripped off a9-yard run to set up 3rd and 1 at the Arkansas 47. 

Big Play Alert

Drew Sanders filled the hole at the last second to blow up Wright with a violent hit to force 4th and 1. Petrino then pulled out the same play he ran at Arkansas on 4th & 1 when Casey Dick hit Chris Gragg to avoid the upset against Louisiana Monroe in 2008. It worked in 2022 also as the Bears' Ty Scott was left all alone and blew kisses to the crowd following a 47-yard touchdown reception.

MISSOURI STATE 24, ARKANSAS 17 3Q (3:28)

Arkansas follows up with a short drive just across mid-field, but when it stalled and Pittman chose to punt, the boos poured onto the field a second time.

2:02, 3Q (24-17)

Shelley goes deep early in the drive and gets a pass interference call combined with a pass to the tight end in the flat to move into Arkansas territory. He then finds Booker for 19 to put the Bears in scoring position again at the Arkansas 31. To make matters worse, Petrino is starting to run the ball, which means he thinks he can eat up clock and come away with a win. Petrino would rather have his eyes plucked out than run the ball.

END OF THE 3RD QUARTER

15:00, 4Q (24-17)

Shelley scrambles for nine yards to set up 3rd & 1 a the Arkansas 22 after Drew Sanders bulldogged him into the sideline.

Wright up the middle for a first down at the Hogs' 19-yard line. At halftime we talked about the line of scrimmage being where this game would be won as players tired in the second half. However, we thought it would be the bigger Arkansas line instead of the Bears.

The Arkansas secondary holds and Shelley decides to throw it away rather than risk losing yards on a scramble. That sets up a 31-yard field goal attempt for Missouri State.

Pizano knocks it through and we have a two-score game again in Razorback Stadium.

MISSOURI STATE 27, ARKANSAS 17, 4Q (12:04)

Big Play Alert

Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson flips the ball to Sanders, who ran to the line of scrimmage, stopped and turned around, then Sanders is able to hold the angle against the secondary to complete a 2-play, 75-yard drive to swing the momentum back in the Hogs' favor.

MISSOURI STATE 27, ARKANSAS 24, 4Q (11:38)

After Shelley hit the Razorbacks for solid gains on first down all night, the defense finally got to him as Jordan Domineck, Landon Jackson and Drew Sanders have decided to put this game on their back and will the Hogs to a victory one way or another. Those two sacks for a total of 12 yards in losses set up what might be the biggest moment of the game.

Big Play Alert

Bryce Stephens, who has been close to breaking long runs on punts all night long, weaves his way 82 yards to give Arkansas its first lead of the game. The press box was literally swaying as he broke free.

ARKANSAS 31, MISSOURI STATE 27

With the crowd rocking, Shelley throws a dart to Latulas and he shakes a tackle for 38 yards. The Razorbacks got lucky he didn't score as it looked like he was gone down the sidelines.

Arkansas fell for the delayed screen over the middle to the running back, but Isaiah Nichols held true to his assignment and avoided a big play. Seconds later, the entire defensive front swarmed Shelley under to force a punt on 4th & 21.

This looks like it will be the Rocket Sanders show the rest of the way as Arkansas looks to close this out with time consuming body blows.

Missouri State forces a 3rd & 12, but Jefferson finds Knox for 21 yards along the sideline to keep the drive alive.

Rocket Sanders then broke free up the middle for 43 yards to give the Hogs a fresh set of downs at the 5-yard line with just under three minutes left. Not scoring on the play may ahve been the best thing for Arkansas to help run the clock.

KJ Jefferson then delivered the knockout blow with a powerful run right up the gut to extend the lead to 38-27.

Big Play Alert

The Missouri State offensive line seems to have finally worn down. Drew Sanders breaks through for the sack on Shelley for a big loss deep in the Bears' own territory. Rather than keep fighting, Petrino concedes and punts. After one heck of a fight, this one is finally over.

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HOGS FEED:

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HOGS' SAM PITTMAN WOULD LIKE TO MAKE WIDE RECEIVER BY COMMITTEE A LITTLE LARGER

HOW TO WATCH-LISTEN TO RAZORBACKS AGAINST MISSOURI STATE ON SATURDAY

HAS HOGS COACH SAM PITTMAN'S PLAN FOR DOMINIQUE JOHNSON WORKED LIKE HE WANTED?

TEXAS HAS LOT TO LEARN FROM ALABAMA, ARKANSAS BEFORE ENTERING SEC

BOBBY PETRINO, JASON SHELLEY PERFECT COMBO TO CAUSE HOGS PROBLEMS SATURDAY AND FANS, BUMPER POOL KNOW IT

PITTMAN DISCUSSES WHETHER DOMINIQUE JOHNSON WILL PLAY SATURDAY

SEC ROUNDUP: DAWGS, VOLS CANCEL ON OU, AUBURN HAS TEMP AD, MANNING CALLS OUT TENNESSEE, JAY-Z PROTEGE EARNS SHOE DEAL AT LSU

HOG FANS NEED TO TAKE WAIT AND SEE APPROACH WITH THIS TEAM

WHAT OFFENSIVE LINEMAN BRADY LATHAM, RUNNING BACK AJ GREEN SAID AFTER TUESDAY'S PRACTICE

COMPLETE PRESS CONFERENCE WITH ISAIAH NICHOLS AND CHRIS PAUL

FANS NEED TO WORRY MORE ABOUT BOBBY PETRINO'S TEAM INSTEAD OF WHAT HAPPENED A DECADE AGO

FAYETTEVILLE BULLDOGS MOVE UP IN LATEST STATE HIGH SCHOOL POLL

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