Razorbacks Draw Penn State In Outback Bowl

Arkansas concluded its best football season in a decade with one more victory Saturday.

The No. 21 Razorbacks defeated Penn State 24-10 in the Outback Bowl at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Fla. It was Arkansas’ first bowl victory since the 2015 season and first ever over a Big Ten opponent in a bowl game. 

Arkansas finished the season with a 9-4 record, the program’s best since an 11-2 season in 2011. The Razorbacks won nine games for the seventh time in 30 seasons as an SEC team. 

Penn State led 10-7 at halftime, but Arkansas outscored the Nittany Lions 17-0 in the third quarter to take control of the game. 

Quarterback KJ Jefferson was masterful on the zone read option in the second half and scored on an 8-yard touchdown run early in the third quarter to give the Razorbacks a 14-10 lead. 

After Cam Little kicked a 36-yard field goal to extend the lead, Florida-native Raheim “Rocket” Sanders scored on a 1-yard touchdown with 2:08 left in the quarter to put Arkansas ahead 24-10. 

The Jefferson and Sanders touchdowns capped 75- and 79-yard drives that only included rushing plays. Arkansas ran the ball 17 times for 176 yards in the third quarter and finished the game with 361 rushing yards on 58 attempts. 

Jefferson led the Razorbacks with 110 yards on 20 carries. Dominique Johnson added 85 yards on 11 attempts and Sanders ran 13 times for 79 yards and 2 touchdowns. 

The 361 yards were the most by a team in the Outback Bowl since Wisconsin ran for a bowl-record 400 yards in 2015. They were also a season high for the Razorbacks, eclipsing their 350-yard rushing performance at Ole Miss on Oct. 9. 

Arkansas dominated after halftime. The Razorbacks out-gained the Nittany Lions 279-94 in the second half, including 256-68 on the ground. 

Penn State (7-6) drove to the Arkansas 10 early in the fourth quarter, but safety Joe Foucha intercepted quarterback Sean Clifford in the end zone to kill a 14-play, 65-yard drive. 

It was one of several key plays that involved Foucha. He also recorded a sack and broke up a pass in the end zone when Penn State attempted a fake field goal late in the first half. 

Backup Arkansas quarterback Malik Hornsby took two kneel downs after reaching the Penn State 8-yard line in the final two minutes. The Razorbacks held the ball for the game’s final 5:59 and had possession for 36:13 overall.

Arkansas squandered multiple scoring opportunities in the first half. Jefferson was intercepted by Ji’Ayir Brown on a pass intended for Warren Thompson in the end zone to end the Razorbacks’ first drive. 

With Arkansas driving inside the Penn State 40, Thompson was intercepted by Brown on a wide receiver pass intended for Tyson Morris with 24 seconds remaining before halftime. 

Penn State went ahead on a 43-yard field goal by Jake Pinegar with 5:19 left in the second quarter. Pinegar missed a 50-yard field goal attempt to end game’s first possession. 

The Nittany Lions tied the game at 7-7 when Clifford hit KeAndre Lambert-Smith for a 43-yard touchdown pass with 10:53 left in the second quarter. Foucha bit on an underneath route, which left Lambert-Smith wide open running toward the end zone. 

Clifford completed 14 of 32 passes for 195 yards. The third-year starter, who has announced he will return for the 2022 season, was replaced by freshman Christian Veilleux in the fourth quarter. 

Arkansas took a 7-0 lead when Sanders scored on a 3-yard run on the final play of the first quarter. Sanders converted fourth-and-2 with a 3-yard run one play earlier. 

The bowl game was the Razorbacks’ first since a loss to Virginia Tech in the 2016 Belk Bowl. Arkansas qualified for the Texas Bowl last season, but the game was canceled when the Razorbacks’ opponent, TCU, backed out due to covid-19 protocols. 

Arkansas coach Sam Pittman became the Razorbacks’ fifth coach to win his first bowl game, joining Frank Broyles, Lou Holtz, Bobby Petrino and Bret Bielema.

5:49, 4Q - Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

The Nittany Lions have inserted backup quarterback Christian Veilleux in place of Sean Clifford, who I believe is injured. Veilleux's first series ends with an incomplete deep ball on third-and-17.

Myles Slusher and Hudson Clark were the two closest players to the pass.

Joe Foucha sacked Veilleux on the drive. Foucha is having a solid day. He has a team-best 6 tackles, 1 sack and 1 interception.

He could easily have 2 interceptions, but he let the Penn State fake punt pass late in the first half slip through his hands.

8:30, 4Q - Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

After the stoppage in play for Dominique Johnson's injury, KJ Jefferson fumbled a read-option handoff in the backfield. He recovered. Jefferson then completed a pass to Bryce Stephens well short of the line to gain on third down.

It was just the fifth pass attempt of the second half for Arkansas.

Reid Bauer's punt pins Penn State at its 9. He has dropped four punts inside the 20 today and two kicks have traveled 50-plus yards.

10:08, 4Q - Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

Dominique Johnson just went down favoring a knee after a six-yard run to the left. Looked like a Penn State defensive back got a helmet/shoulder on the knee of the leg that was planted in the turf.

Johnson has rushed for 85 yards on 11 touches today. He walked off the field with the help of Arkansas' training staff and entered the injury tent.

12:39, 4Q - Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

Sean Clifford had done a good job on this Nittany Lions drive of picking up yardage with his feet and through the air. But his final throw badly missed its mark and Joe Foucha picked it in the end zone.

The Razorbacks have intercepted multiple passes for the fourth time this season and third time in the last six games.

End 3Q - Arkansas 24, Penn State 10

Source : https://www.nwaonline.com/news/2022/jan/01/razorbacks-win-outback-bowl-defeat-penn-state/

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