In a surprise, the University of Arkansas took the field against Missouri on Saturday without senior starting quarterback Feleipe Franks under center.
Backup quarterback KJ Jefferson, a redshirt freshman, was ready. But Missouri had the answer in the fourth quarter of a roller-coaster 50-48 victory at Faurot Field in Columbia, Mo.
Trailing 40-26 with 13:15 to play, Missouri scored 21 unanswered points to take a 47-40 lead. Arkansas took a 48-47 lead with 43 seconds left on a Mike Woods' touchdown reception from Jefferson, followed by a two-point conversion pass between the two.
But the Arkansas defense couldn't hold Missouri's offense, and Harrison Mevis kicked a 32-yard field goal as time expired.
The loss was the Razorbacks' fifth consecutive in the Battle Line Rivalry against Missouri.
Jefferson finished 18-of-33 passing for 274 yards, 3 touchdowns and zero interceptions. He also ran 13 times for 32 yards and 1 touchdown.
Franks missed the game with a rib injury. During a halftime interview, Coach Sam Pittman said it was determined Saturday morning that Franks wouldn't be able to start.
After a slow start that saw Missouri (4-4) take a 10-0 lead, Jefferson and the Arkansas offense put up 27 second-quarter points to lead 27-20 at halftime.
Trelon Smith ran for 172 yards on 26 carries and 3 TDs for the Razorbacks (4-5) in his first start since senior co-captain Rakeem Boyd opted out of the remainder of the season last week. Treylon Burks had 10 catches for 206 yards and 1 TD for Arkansas.
Missouri finished with 653 total yards to the Razorbacks' 566 yards.
FIRST QUARTER: Missouri 10, Arkansas 6
Arkansas contributed 20 yards to Missouri’s field goal drive on Isaiah Nichols’ low hit on QB Connor Bazelak and Julius Coates being offsides on a muffed snap that would’ve gone for lost yardage. Larry Rountree had a 10-yard run to the Hogs’ 29, but Coates sacked Bazelak for a 13-yard loss. Harrison Mavis nailed a 51-yard FG. With KJ Jefferson at QB, the Razorbacks went 3 and out, as Treylon Burks dropped a third down slant. The Tigers failed to convert on 3rd and 5, but offsetting penalties gave them another shot, and Tauski Dove caught a 5-yard slant. Rountree had 6 carries for 20 yards and scored from the 2 after Bazelak’s 29-yard deep ball to Keke Chism. Jefferson engineered a 75-yard TD drive that took 4:29. The Tigers had two defensive penalties, Burks caught a 15-yard pass and Jefferson had a 16-yard scramble to the 9. Jefferson hit Blake Kern with a 2-yard play-action pass for his first career TD. A.J. Reed missed the PAT. The Tigers had three consecutive double-digit gains: Jalen Knox’s 13-yard pop pass, Chism’s 11-yard catch and Rountree’s 10-yard run. Arkansas safety Myles Slusher came off woozy on the final play of the period at the Hogs’ 40.
SECOND QUARTER: Arkansas 27, Missouri 20
Larry Rountree ran 13 yards, then Barrett Banister grabbed a 9-yard pass on 3rd and 7. The Hogs held on their 12 and Harrison Mavis booted a 29-yard FG. Nathan Parodi was tackled on the 11 on a short kickoff return. TJ Hammonds bolted over the right side for a 2-yard gain. KJ Jefferson overthrew an open Hammonds deep on the next snap, then rebounded to connect with Treylon Burks for a 68-yard touchdown on the next snap to forge a 13-13 tie. After Connor Bazelak hit Keke Chism with a 29-yard strike on a flea flicker, another defensive offsides aided the Tigers. Banister’s 9-yard catch converted 3rd and 8. Rountree scored from the 6. Burks caught a 14-yard pass then added a 10-yard run. Hammonds had runs of 9 and 6 yards. Trelon Smith took a pitch from Burks 5 yards on 3rd and 3 and Smith scored from the 8 two plays later. Arkansas forced its first 3 and out. Missouri LB Nick Bolton was ejected for targeting. Jack Lindsey raced 20 yards with a fake punt from the 25. Smith had five carries for 34 yards and Jefferson sneaked in from the 1 to give Arkansas the lead. The Tigers moved to near midfield but drew a delay of game as the half came to a close.
THIRD QUARTER: Arkansas 33, Missouri 23
Trelon Smith gained 7 yards on first down but the Hogs went three and out. Larry Rountree had a 34-yard burst at left end to open the Missouri series. Montaric Brown was called for pass interference. Grant Morgan had a 3-yard TFL. Harrison Mavis made a 37-yard FG to cap the 60-yard series. Smith had a 13-yard burst to open the series. KJ Jefferson found Treylon Burks for 41 yards to convert 3rd and 15. Smith ran four plays in a row for 26 yards, the last a 15-yard TD. Missouri moved the chains once on Barrett Banister’s 6-yard catch, then punted 40 yards to the Arkansas 34. Smith bolted 21 yards around the left edge. Safety Martez Manuel broke up a third down pass and Reid Bauer punted to the 16. Missouri overcame a holding penalty. On an incomplete pass on 2nd and 11, the officials flagged Arkansas safety Joe Foucha for a suspect unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Arkansas LB Grant Morgan came out with a left leg injury after a pileup on a run up the middle. Connor Bazelak found Tauskie Dove for a 13-yard gain to convert a 3rd and 5 to the Arkansas 27. Missouri faced 3rd and 6 after the last play of the quarter.
FOURTH QUARTER: Missouri 50, Arkansas 48
Connor Bazelak threw incomplete on 3rd and 6, and Harrison Mavis came on for his fourth FG, a 40-yarder. Treylon Burks somehow got a left foot toe tap and caught a 19-yard pass. Trey Knox took a slant for 22 yards, then Burks caught a 14 yard pass. Trelon Smith took a fake toss counter play over the left edge for a 16-yard TD. The Tigers were in the end zone two plays later. Damon Hazelton caught a 29-yard pass. Tyler Badie got free around the left side and raced 46 yards for the score. A couple of Smith runs netted 11 yards, but the Razorbacks punted three plays later to the Tigers’ 18. Hazelton’s 32-yard grab converted 3rd and 7. Keke Chism caught a 25-yard deep ball vs. Malik Chavis. Larry Rountree scored a 9-yard TD. Burks caught a 10-yard pass, but Trajan Jeffcoat sacked him on the next sequence, forcing a punt. Rountree ripped off a 46-yard run and Badie completed the four-play drive with a go-ahead 25-yard TD. The Hogs drove 75 yards. Burks converted a 4th and 1 with a 1-yard run. Jefferson hit Mike Woods with a 14-yard throwback TD. Sam Pittman went for the win and Woods brought in a would-be interception for the 2-point conversion. Bazelak went 4 for 4 for 54 yards and Mevis converted a 32-yard FG on the game’s final play.