FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There’s just something about an Arkansas running back wearing the number 5 shirt and having a road with the South Carolina Gamecocks.
In the Razorbacks No. 16’s opening 44-30 SEC win over South Carolina, the second team running behind Raheim ‘Rocket’ Sanders hit the ball 24 times at 156 yards and two touchdowns.
On the other side of the ball, full-back Drew Sanders excellently scored 11 tackles, 2 tackles, 3 tackles lost, 2 forced fumbles and 1 missed pass.
The Gamecocks slashed Razorback’s lead to five points in the third quarter, but a run that touched KJ Jefferson was followed by a clumsy recovery by Hudson Clark and then a connection from Jefferson to Warren Thompson bring Hogs to 35-16 with 12:09 left in the game.
A 34-yard bounce on the field by Bumper Pool resulted in a hasty 2-yard touchdown from AJ Green over the next two innings, taking the lead 42-24. With this score, Green became the fourth Hog to score a quick touchdown of the day.
Gamecocks full-back Spencer Rattler earned a deliberate free-kick in his end area with a 1:33 margin, which resulted in a safety that put Hogs ahead 44-30.
Arkansas controlled the ball at 34:31 compared to South Carolina’s 23:56.
Here’s a rundown of how things went down:
After winning 32 yards in three innings in the opening leg, the Gamecocks stalled and after a penalty and a footwork, the Hogs continued at their own 37-yard line.
The Arkansas driver quickly evolved into the ‘Rocket Sanders Show,’ as he took 49 of Hogs’ 63 yards and punched the 1-yard score to put Hogs on the first board.
On the next driveway in South Carolina, Rattler connected with MarShawn Lloyd on a 43-yard pass. The Razorback defense held tight inside their own 15-yard line and forced the Gamecocks to settle for goal at 28 yards, leaving them 7-3.
In the next possession, Arkansas hit a 12-play, 75-yard hit capped by an 11-yard touchdown made by Sanders, giving the Hogs an 11-point advantage.
The Sanders Show continues for the Razorbacks, this time on a Drew Sanders sack to pin the Gamecocks back on their own 15-yard line. Arkansas continued its dominant slam attack when real freshman Rashod Dubinion scored his first college touchdown with a 1-yard strike to put the Hogs into a 21-3 lead.
South Carolina made an 11-yard, 70-yard hit in a 5:12 time that was capped by a 7-yard score from Lloyd. After a missed PAT, the Gamecocks took a 12-goal lead late in the first half.
Neither team could take the lead in the final minutes of the half, and Razorback’s Cam Little shot from 50 yards with the clock at 0:50.
The Razorbacks were unable to get anything in the opening move of the half, capped by a pass from Matt Landers, who likely scored.
After Arkansas competed for the first time in the afternoon, Rattler connected with Antwane Wells Jr for a 62-yard touchdown in turns 3 and 18.
In possession of the Razorback afterwards, the Hogs failed to convert in 4 and 1 and the Gamecocks took over at their own 19-yard line. The Arkansas defense did its job, thanks in part to Pool, who fired Rattler in third.
The Hogs took advantage of the stop and drove 59 yards over 14 innings, taking a 2-yard score from Jefferson to make it 28-16.
Two innings later, Latavious Brini made a mess that was found by Clark at the 41-yard line of South Carolina.
A few innings later, Jefferson found Thompson alone in the back yard to extend the lead against Arkansas to 19 points.
Rattler connected with Wells for a 64-yard pass to send the Gamecocks into the red zone with just over seven minutes left. JuJu McDowell punched the ball from long distance and South Carolina successfully converted to 2 points to make it 35-24 with 6:25 remaining.
Pool recovered the kick later and returned it 34 yards to South Caroline’s 9-yard line. Two plays later, Green punched from over 2m to bring Hogs to 18.
The Gamecocks dashed down the field quickly, surging 75 yards in eight innings to set up Jaheim Bell in a hasty 1-foot touchdown. Attempts to convert 2 points were unsuccessful, making the score 42-30.
A deliberate landing on the Rattler’s end with 1:33 on the left led to safety and put Hogs up two points.
The Gamecocks were unable to get any more points in their final leg, leading to a 14-point victory by the Hogs.