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Arkansas survives Rice for season opening win

Things were dicey for three quarters, but the Razorbacks too care of business.

Rice v Arkansas Photo by Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

The Arkansas Razorbacks avoided a season opening disaster Saturday in Fayetteville, coming away with a 38-17 win over Rice after struggling to separate for much of the game.

At first, it looked like it would be an easy romp for the Razorbacks in the sweltering heat, as quarterback KJ Jefferson scrambled for a 34 yard touchdown on Arkansas’ second drive to open the game’s scoring.

From there, though, Arkansas’ offense sputtered, with each of their six remaining first half drives ending in a punt, interception, or time running out in the half. Rice, meanwhile, connected on a 25 yard field goal early in the second quarter, and then came away with a one-yard rushing touchdown following an eight play drive near the middle of the quarter. Rice took a 10-7 lead into halftime, as alarm bells started to ring.

The third quarter was more of the same, as a blown coverage assignment by Arkansas led to an easy 41 yard touchdown reception for August Pitre to put the Owls up 17-7.

That would do it for the scoring for the Owls, though, as Arkansas put the clamps down defensively led by a pair of fourth quarter interceptions by Jalen Catalon and scored 21 unanswered points in the final frame to pull away with a 38-17 victory. It wasn’t pretty, but a win is a win.

Jefferson finished the day 12-21 with 128 yards and a touchdown and interception to go along with two rushing touchdowns. Trelon Smith had 102 rushing yards and a touchdown.

The Razorbacks improve to 1-0 for the first time under Sam Pittman, and will host Texas next Saturday.