PROVO, Utah (ABC4 Sports) – After a fumble and a punt on its first two drives of the game, the Arkansas offense could not be stopped.
The Razorbacks scored on eight consecutive possessions in route to a 52-35 win over BYU Saturday afternoon at LaVell Edwards Stadium.
KJ Jefferson threw for 367 yards and a career-high five touchdowns to lead Arkansas to a 52-35 victory over BYU on Saturday.
“You won’t win a lot of games if you give up 52 points,” said BYU head coach Kalani Sitake. “I think what’s frustrating is losing the turnover battle, becausethat’s not our identity. We’re focused on taking care of the football, and I didn’t feel like we did well enough at that today. There were quite a few mistakes on the coaches and myself, as well as the players. So, we’ll fix those.”
Raheim Sanders added 175 yards and a pair of touchdowns on the ground for Arkansas (4-3), which snapped a three-game losing streak after rolling up 644 total yards on the Cougars.
Third-down efficiency contributed greatly to fueling the Razorbacks’ potent offensive showing. Arkansas went 12-of-14 on third down.
“I’m really focused on third downs,” Sitake said. “That’s the biggest issue for me. Third downs are the only down, when it comes to defense. So, you have to get off the field. Arkansas converted 12-of-15 third downs, and that’s not good defense. The other area of concern is fundamental tackling and mistakes onthe field. We had some guys not doing their 1/11th, and that’s on the coaches to make sure they get that done and execute their assignment.”
“We left some plays out on the field and missed opportunities,” said linebacker Ben Bywater. “Fortunately, football is week-to-week, and we have a chance to get out again next week at Liberty and prove ourselves.”
Jaren Hall threw for a career-high 356 yards and three touchdowns to lead BYU (4-3). Puka Nacua had 141 receiving yards and Kody Epps added 125 receiving yards for the Cougars. Nacua also scored three touchdowns.
BYU tallied 471 total yards, but the Cougars lost their second straight game after repeatedly allowing quick scoring drives and committing three turnovers.
“My biggest thing is just execution,” Nacua said. “There’s a lot of good things we did out there, but ball security is one that stands out. I’m thinking of my fourth down play and our fourth down fumbled snap. Arkansas didn’t do anything to get usout of our game plan, and we knew we were coming in for a shootout, but there were struggles with execution in all phases of the game.”
BYU cut the deficit to 38-35 on a 33-yard catch by Nacua in the third quarter. Arkansas rallied with back-to-back touchdowns – culminating in a 64-yard scamper down the sidelines by Sanders – that extended its lead to 52-35 early in the fourth.
Hall picked apart the Arkansas defense early in the first half. He threw a pair of first quarter touchdown passes to give the Cougars a 13-7 lead. Nacua’s 31-yard grab along the sideline on 4th-and-8 set up the first score. Kody Epps dashed in for BYU’s second touchdown on a 21-yard catch-and-run.
The Razorbacks answered both touchdowns and seized a 14-13 lead early in the second quarter after Jefferson completed seven straight pass attempts, culminating in a 6-yard toss to Trey Knox.
BYU regained a 21-14 lead on a 5-yard run by Nacua but then lost momentum for good on back-to-back turnovers.
Hall fumbled the snap on fourth down at the BYU 34, setting up a go-ahead touchdown for the Razorbacks on a 4-yard grab by Matt Landers. Then, after Hall threw an interception to Hudson Clark, Arkansas extended its lead to 31-21 before halftime on a 15-yard catch by Rashod Dubinion – the third touchdown pass for Jefferson in the second quarter.
The Razorbacks shook off a slow start and scored on eight consecutive drives extending deep into the fourth quarter. Arkansas ran 82 total plays and averaged 7.9 yards per play. Jefferson racked up five touchdown passes over the second and third quarters.
The Cougars took a half before they generated any consistent production in the run game. BYU tallied just 29 rushing yards on 11 running plays before halftime. Then, in the third quarter, the Cougars rushed for 77 yards and a touchdown while averaging 5.1 yards per carry.
The Cougars (4-3) next play at Liberty Saturday, October 22nd.