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OPINION | WALLY HALL: Second-half elixir works nicely for Hogs

by Wally Hall | January 2, 2022 at 3:08 a.m.

TAMPA, Fla. -- Whatever Sam Pittman said or did at halftime should be kept in a time capsule.

The Arkansas Razorbacks went from lethargic to lethal in the second half.

Saying they owned the third quarter would be like saying a few folks around here have a tan.

The first half of the 13th game of the season looked too much like the first half of the first game, but this was Penn State and not Rice Arkansas was playing.

Arkansas put together a good drive late in the first quarter, mostly on the ground as they ran for 45 of 61 yards with Raheim Sanders getting the touchdown on a 3-yard run as time ran out and it was 7-0, a lead that lasted only 4:07.

The Nittany Lions didn't answer on their next position and Arkansas went three and out, losing 4 yards on the possession, then Penn State got an 18-yard punt return that should have ended where it started.

On first down from the Razorbacks' 42, KeAndre Lambert-Smith, a sophomore receiver, appeared to be invisible to the Arkansas defense, as he ran down the middle of the field and caught Sean Clifford's perfect pass for a touchdown.

On its next possession, the Nittany Lions didn't get to a second down until they had driven 52 yards. Then Clifford couldn't complete a pass, and Penn State settled for a 33-yard field goal and a 10-7 lead.

Yet, it was a completely changed Razorback team that came out onto the field for the final 30 minutes and won its fourth trophy of the season, this one the Outback Bowl with a 24-10 win in what would become a dominating performance.

MVP KJ Jefferson was Mr. Football in the second half after struggling through five sacks in the first half.

On the first play of the second half Jefferson went 10 yards. He followed a 2-yard gain by Dominique Johnson with a 14-yard burst that set up a 5 yard gain. Jefferson then went 14 yards again and two plays later he scored on an 8-yard run to give Arkansas the lead 14-10.

Penn State would spend the rest of the game looking back as the Razorbacks ran around and through the Nittany Lion defense.

On the Razorbacks' second possession of the second half, they drove 46 yards for a 36-yard field goal, and before the third quarter would end they would add another touchdown.

Jefferson started it with a 34-yard run and was tackled hard, landing on his back. Sanders would get a 12-yard gain, and in relief of Jefferson, Malik Hornsby looked like a sprinter in a dash down the sideline 32 yards to the 1 where Sanders went in standing up to set the final score.

Hornsby would relieve Jefferson late in the game and drive the Penn State fans toward the exits with a time consuming drive that ended with Arkansas in the victory formation for two snaps to settle this SEC/Big Ten debate.

Despite Arkansas knocking on the door of another score in the red zone, Pittman called to run out the clock and not embarrass Penn State head coach James Franklin.

In the second half, the Razorbacks ran the ball 32 times for 256 yards to finish with 361 yards rushing. They kept the ball for 36:13 in the game.

This season in going 9-4 the Razorbacks picked up trophies in the Southwest Classic, beating Texas A&M, the Golden Boot, beating LSU and the Battle Line Rivalry, beating Missouri.

They rang in the New Year adding a new trophy. In their first-ever appearance in the Outback Bowl, they put it together at the half to win by more than what the score showed.

It was two totally different halves for the Hogs, and whatever was said or done at halftime should be immortalized somehow.

Print Headline: Second-half elixir works nicely for Hogs


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