Arkansas Rockets by South Carolina, 44-30

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – There’s just something about an Arkansas running back wearing number 5 having his way with the South Carolina Gamecocks.

In the No. 16 Razorbacks’ 44-30 SEC opener win over South Carolina, sophomore running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders carried the ball 24 times for a team-high 156 yards and two touchdowns.

On the other side of the ball, linebacker Drew Sanders stepped up considerably, recording 11 tackles, two sacks, three tackles for loss, two forced fumbles and a pass breakup.

The Gamecocks cut Razorback’s lead to five points in the third quarter, but a KJ Jefferson touchdown run was followed by a Hudson Clark fumble recovery and then a Jefferson connection to Warren Thompson that put the Hogs in the lead 35-16 with 12:09 to go. in the game.

A 34-yard onside kick return by Bumper Pool led to a 2-yard rushing touchdown from AJ Green two plays later that put the lead out of reach at 42-24. With the score, Green became the fourth Hog to score a rushing touchdown that day.

Gamecocks quarterback Spencer Rattler picked up a penalty for intentionally grounding in his own end zone with 1:33 to go, resulting in a safety that put the Hogs up 44- 30.

Arkansas controlled time of possession as they held the ball for 34:31 to only 23:56 for South Carolina.

Here’s a recap of how things went:

First half:

After gaining 32 yards in three plays on their first drive, the Gamecocks stalled and after a penalty and a punt, the Hogs took over on their own 37-yard line.

Arkansas’ practice quickly turned into a “Rocket Sanders Show” as he accounted for 49 of the Hogs’ 63 yards and scored from 1 yard to put the Hogs on the board first.

In the ensuing practice in South Carolina, Rattler connected with MarShawn Lloyd on a 43-yard screen pass. The Razorback defense held firm inside its own 15-yard line and forced the Gamecocks to settle for a 28-yard field goal, making it a 7-3 game.

On the next possession, Arkansas put together a 12-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off with an 11-yard touchdown by Sanders that gave the Hogs an 11-point advantage.

The Sanders Show continued for the Razorbacks, this time on a Drew Sanders sack that pinned the Gamecocks on their own 15-yard line. Arkansas continued its dominant rushing offense as true freshman Rashod Dubinion scored his first collegiate touchdown on a 1-yard run to put Hogs in the lead 21-3.

South Carolina worked an 11-play, 70-yard drive in a 5:12 span that was capped off by a 7-yard score from Lloyd. After a failed PAT, the Gamecocks trailed by 12 late in the first half.

Both teams were unable to get on the board in the final minutes of the half, and Razorback kicker Cam Little missed a 50-yard field goal with 0:50 left on the clock.

Second part:

The Razorbacks couldn’t get anything in the opening half-time drive, which was capped off with an abandoned pass from Matt Landers, who would likely have scored.

After Arkansas threw the ball out for the first time in the afternoon, Rattler connected with Antwane Wells Jr. for a 62-yard touchdown on 3rd-and-18.

On the ensuing Razorback possession, the Hogs were unable to convert 4th-and-1 and the Gamecocks took over on their own 19-yard line. Arkansas’ defense did its job, thanks in part to Pool, who sacked Rattler on third down.

The Hogs took advantage of the stoppage and went for 59 yards in 14 games, getting a 2-yard score from Jefferson to go up 28-16.

Two plays later, Latavious Brini forced a fumble that was picked up by Clark at the South Carolina 41-yard line.

A few plays later, Jefferson found Thompson all alone deep in the end zone to extend Arkansas’ lead to 19 points.

Rattler connected with Wells for a 64-yard pass to put the Gamecocks in the red zone with just over seven minutes left. JuJu McDowell hit the ball from a yard and South Carolina made the 2-point conversion to make it 35-24 with 6:25 left in the game.

Pool picked up the ensuing inbound kick and returned it 34 yards to the South Carolina 9-yard line. Two plays later, Green hit from two yards to put the Hogs up 18.

The Gamecocks raced up the field quickly, racking up 75 yards in eight plays to set up Jaheim Bell for a 1-yard rushing touchdown. The 2-point conversion attempt failed, making it 42-30.

An intentional grounding in the end zone by Rattler with 1:33 left resulted in a safety and earned the Hogs two points.

The Gamecocks couldn’t get more points in their last practice, resulting in a 14-point Hogs win.

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