Instant Replay

Hogs add defensive touchdown

Arkansas defensive back Alfahiym Walcott (13) strips Florida International wide receiver Dean Patterson (11) and returns the fumble for a touchdown, Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, during the second quarter at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville. Visit for today's photo gallery..(NWA Democrat-Gazette/Hank Layton)

FAYETTEVILLE -- The University of Arkansas has scored five defensive touchdowns in a season for the first time since joining the SEC in 1992.

Senior safety Alfahiym Walcott provided Arkansas' fifth defensive score when he took the ball from Florida International receiver and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown in the Hogs' 44-20 win Saturday night at Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

Walcott's touchdown put Arkansas ahead 21-13 with 10:53 left in the second quarter.

It was the second career touchdown for Walcott, who transferred from Baylor this year.

Walcott had a 96-yard interception return for a touchdown in Baylor's 21-7 victory over Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl to cap the 2021 season.

Walcott's interception return gave the Bears a 7-0 lead in the second quarter and set a Sugar Bowl record.

Saturday night's play was originally ruled a forced fumble and return but later changed to an interception. It was similar to Arkansas freshman cornerback Jaylon Braxton's play at Florida when he took the ball from Gators receiver Ricky Pearsall on Florida's first offensive snap of the game and returned the fumble 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Razorbacks ahead 14-0 in a game they won 39-36 in overtime two weeks ago.

Other scores by Arkansas' defense this season are interception returns by linebackers Brad Spence against Western Carolina and Antonio Grier against Kent State and cornerback Lorando "Snaxx" Johnson against Texas A&M.

Including Isaiah Sategna's 88-yard punt return against BYU, the Razorbacks have six non-offensive touchdowns.

It's the most non-offensive touchdowns for Arkansas since 2011, when the Razorbacks had eight.

Second TD

Arkansas redshirt sophomore receiver Jaedon Wilson scored his second career touchdown on a 10-yard pass from KJ Jefferson with 12:22 left in the first quarter.

It was Wilson's first touchdown since the season-opener when he took a short pass from Jefferson and turned it into a 65-yard scoring play in the Razorbacks' 56-13 victory.

Wilson's touchdown catch with 13:03 left in the first quarter in the opener at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium put Arkansas ahead 7-0.

Jefferson's touchdown pass to Wilson against Florida International was the 65th of his career and set the Razorbacks' career record.

Going into the game, Jefferson had been tied with Brandon Allen for most career touchdown passes by a Razorback with 64.

Johnson scores

Arkansas junior running back Dominique Johnson, who has come back from two major knee surgeries, scored his first touchdown in two years when he burst up the middle and got to the end zone on a fourth-and-2 play with 1:08 left in the second quarter.

It was Johnson's first touchdown since he scored on a 1-yard run in Alabama's 42-35 victory over Arkansas on Nov. 20, 2021. He scored seven touchdowns in 2021.

For starters

Arkansas senior linebacker Antonio Grier and senior cornerback Kee'Yon Stewart each made their second starts of the season.

Grier was in the lineup for junior Jaheim Thomas, who came into the game with a team-high 87 tackles and didn't start for the first time this season.

Thomas played late in the game and Coach Sam Pittman said it was a coaching decision to start Grier, who led the Razorbacks with six tackles.

"We just thought Grier had a good week," Pittman said. "We thought he earned the right to start. Jaheim is a good player for us and hopefully he'll get back next week and help us."

Stewart started in place of freshman Jaylon Braxton, who didn't play after sustaining a shoulder injury against Auburn last week.

Grier and Stewart each made their previous starts of the season at Alabama.

Arkansas senior offensive lineman Ty'Kieast Crawford made his second consecutive start at left tackle in place of Patrick Kutas, who has missed the past two games after injuring an ankle at Florida.

Little misses

Arkansas junior placekicker Cam Little, who had hit 17 of 19 field goals coming into Saturday night's game, had a tough third quarter when he missed attempts of 34 and 48 yards.

Little's two previous misses were from 49 yards against BYU and 50 at Florida. He's 4 of 5 on attempts from 50 or more yards this season with a career-long of 56 against Texas A&M.

Little hit a 39-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter against FIU. He also made a 31-yarder in the second quarter.

RB injuries

Arkansas running backs Raheim "Rocket" Sanders and Rashod Dubinion both suffered injuries in the first half and didn't play in the second half.

With Sanders and Dubinion out, true freshman Isaiah Augusta got his most work of the season.

Coaching families

FIU receivers coach Jay McIntyre played AAU basketball with Arkansas basketball assistant coach Michael Musselman in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Both now coach with their fathers. Eric Musselman is Arkansas' men's basketball coach and Mike McIntyre is FIU's football coach.

Franks back

Atlanta Falcons tight end Feleipe Franks, who was Arkansas' starting quarterback in 2020 after transferring from Florida, returned to campus for Saturday night's game and led the crowd in a Hog call during a break in the first half.

Franks, who wore an Atlanta Braves cap, is on the Falcons' injured reserve list. He moved from quarterback to tight end after signing with the Falcons as an undrafted free agent in 2021.

Bobby's son

FIU special teams coordinator and tight ends coach Zac Roper is the son of former Razorback and long-time college defensive assistant coach Bobby Roper.

Bobby Roper, who died in 2021 at the age of 78, was a defensive end on Arkansas' 1964 team that finished 11-0 and won a share of the national championship and was the University of Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator in 1976 when the Panthers finished 12-0 and won the national championship.

Another of Bobby Roper's sons, Kurt, is quarterbacks coach at North Carolina State.

Official visits

Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman and his staff were expected to have two official visitors for the FIU game.

Junior college prospects Gregory Genross, a tight end, and Jaekwon Bouldin, an offensive lineman, were planning to visit Arkansas over the weekend.

Genross, 6-7 and 230 pounds, of Dodge City (Kan.) Community College, has scholarship offers from Arkansas, Mississippi State, West Virginia, Utah State, Houston, New Mexico State and other programs.

Genross had 10 catches as a freshman for 92 yards and 1 touchdown. He has 15 receptions for 172 yards and 2 touchdowns with a long reception of 33 yards this season while being named first team All-Kansas Jayhawk Community College Conference..

Genross was a two-sport athlete at John F. Kennedy High School in Bronx, N.Y., where he also excelled in basketball. He spent some time at ASA College in Brooklyn before making his way to Kansas.

Bouldin, 6-7 and 340 pounds, from Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, has offers from the Razorbacks, Auburn, Mississippi State, Purdue, Florida A&M and Tennessee-Chattanooga.

Bouldin planned to make an official visit to Mississippi State prior to the firing of Zach Arnett as the Bulldogs' coach on Monday.

Bouldin, who played at Canton (Miss.) High School before attending junior college, is expected to enroll at his new school in January. Genross is as well.

The Razorbacks hosted former Michigan State offensive lineman Keyshawn Blackstock last weekend for the Auburn football game. He previously visited Ole Miss and North Carolina State, and said he planned to visit Louisville and Penn State after leaving Fayetteville.

Blackstock added he planned to announce a decision around the second week of December.

Richard Davenport of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette staff contributed information for this article