Johnson's 2 TDs leads Arkansas past Vols 49-7
(AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
By KURT VOIGT
AP Sports Writer
Led by its senior receiving duo and 140 total yards from Dennis Johnson, the Razorbacks beat Tennessee 49-7 on Saturday for their sixth consecutive victory.
Arkansas (9-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) kept alive its hopes for a second-straight BCS bowl game - and possibly more. It also earned its seventh straight win against an SEC East opponent, and this one was quite stylish.
Adams electrified the Razorback Stadium crowd with his spectacular 60-yard punt return for a touchdown in the first quarter, and Wright moved into the top spot on the school's career receptions list with 154. Johnson added a 71-yard touchdown run, keeping Arkansas on track for a showdown with No. 1 LSU in Baton Rouge, La., in two weeks.
"We've come quite a ways, but it's still a process," Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette said. "I mean, by no means have we arrived or are we finished. It was nice to get a big win tonight, but we can't look too much into this.
"We've got two more really quality SEC opponents left. . We've come a long ways, but we've still got a ways to go."
While Arkansas added to its growing momentum, the Volunteers (4-6, 0-6) continued their sluggish season. They dropped to 0-6 in the SEC for the first time and need to win their final two games to become bowl eligible. Tennessee hosts Vanderbilt next week before closing out the regular season at Kentucky.
Rajion Neal had Tennessee's lone touchdown while the Volunteers stayed within striking distance early on, nearly equaling the Razorbacks in total yardage. But Arkansas outgained Tennessee 289-169 in the second half and Tyler Wilson finished 16-of-26 passing for 224 yards and three touchdowns.
"They put it to us," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "Not much you can say after a game like that. Very disappointing in how it ended, but we missed a lot of opportunities."
Johnson led Arkansas with 97 yards rushing on 11 carries, and he had 43 yards receiving.
Wright and Adams, meanwhile, provided one highlight after another for a Razorbacks team looking to stay alive in both the SEC and national championship races.
Wright tied Anthony Eubanks' mark of 153 career receptions in the second quarter on a 40-yard pass from Wilson. Wright reached around Tennessee cornerback Justin Coleman to tip the ball up, and it eventually bounced again off his facemask before he was able to dive back and snare the ball just before it hit the turf.
The Warren, Ark., native later set the record on a 16-yarder from Wilson in the third quarter and finished with five catches for 94 yards.
"It's always good to break a record, especially in your home state and somewhere you've been for so long," Wright said. "So it's great to know I broke a record around here. Regardless, I'll probably get a chance to go in the record books."
Adams, who entered one ahead of Wright in career receptions, wasn't about to be overshadowed. He had a pair of grabs to reach 153 for his career, but it was his third punt return for a touchdown this season - the fourth of his career - that sent a charge through the crowd late in the first quarter.
The Razorbacks were leading 7-0 when Adams fielded the Matt Darr punt and initially made a move to his right.
When the Tennessee return team collapsed on Adams, he backed up and turned to the left as if he was about to flip the field. When that closed down, Adams turned back to the right - with the Volunteers bouncing off and sliding over him - and streaked down the sideline before slamming down the ball once he crossed the goal line.
"That's like one of those, you know, where you go, `Aw no, don't run backward. Don't run - ooh, OK, here he goes. Oh my gosh, touchdown,'" Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said. "It was an amazing play, and certainly you saw his athleticism and he's been making plays like that all year long for us."
The rout was on after that, but the highlights were far from finished.
Johnson added his second touchdown on a 15-yard run in the third quarter, and Adams extended the lead to 35-7 with his 40-yard catch from Wilson.
The Razorbacks host Mississippi State in Little Rock, Ark., next week before closing out the regular season at LSU on Nov. 25.
Updated November 12, 2011