Arkansas’ defense gave up just one touchdown but offensive line issues caused the offense to sputter as the Hogs managed a rather uninspiring 20-13 win over FCS foe Portland State in their 2019 season opener.
Portland State drew first blood. A personal foul penalty on the kickoff allowed the Vikings to start on their own 40 yard line. They drove to the Arkansas 33 yard line where Cody Williams booted a 50 yard field goal for a 3-0 lead.
Behind the running of Rakeem Boyd Arkansas then advanced 53 yards to Portland State’s 16 yard line where Ben Hicks’ pass into the endzone on 3rd down was knocked away. Connor Limpert came on to kick a game-tying 34 yard field goal.
The Hogs forced the Vikings into a three and out, took the ball on a punt and moved 64 yards on 10 plays. The big plays were a 15 yard pass from Hicks to Tyson Morris on 3rd and 9 to the Portland State 30 and De’Vion Warren’s 19 yard run on a reverse to the visitor’s 13. Devwah Whaley scored on a 1 yard run with just over three minutes left in the first quarter and the Hogs had their first lead of the season at 10-3.
The Visitors had some success on their next possession, driving to the Arkansas 30 yard line where Williams connected on another field goal, this one from 47 yards out and the Razorbacks’ lead was cut to 10-6 early in the 2nd quarter.
The Hogs offense then bogged down as Arkansas was forced into a couple of punts and blew a scoring opportunity just before halftime when Nick Starkel came on at quarterback and promptly threw an interception at Portland State’s 17 yard line. Before the pick Kamren Curl had intercepted a Davis Alexander pass returning it 29 yards to the Vikings 18 yard line.
Arkansas got the ball back with :34 left in the half and Starkel promptly fired 38 yard strike to Trey Knox who took the ball to the Portland State’s 27 yard line. But head coach Chad Morris passed on a field goal opportunity and the half ended after an 8 yard completion to Grayson Gunter and a 3 yard catch by Boyd at the Vikings’ 19. The Hogs headed to the halftime dressing room with a slim 10-6 lead.
Arkansas continued to sputter with the football through much of the 3rd quarter. The two teams played a punting game until Jarques McCelleion picked off Alexander at the Arkansas 33. The Hogs then put together their second sustained drive of the game going 67 yard on 12 plays with Boyd scoring from 2 yards out as Arkansas pushed its lead to 17-6 with 2:20 left in the quarter.
The Hogs came back with another promising drive early in the 4th quarter but it bogged down on the Viking’s 8 yard line. Limpert then kicked his second field goal of the game for a 20-6 margin.
Alexander left the game with a injury late and the Vikings scored their only touchdown of the game as Jalani Eason completed a 32 yard strike to Charlie Taumoepeau as the visitors moved to within a touchdown. They got the ball back with under a minute to go with a chanced to tie or win the game but Eason was intercepted by Joe Foucha to end the threat.
Arkansas generated 395 yards total offense in the game to 230 for the visitors. The Hogs had 204 yards on the ground and 191 yards passing. Boyd rushed for 118 yards on 18 carries. Hicks was 14 of 29 passing for 143 yards. Freshman receiver Treylon Burks caught 3 passes for 52 yards.