Slow start dooms football at Arkansas


Sophomore wide receiver Aregeros Turner (22) runs down the field against the Arkansas Razorbacks Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium in Fayetteville, Ark. Turner scored the first NIU touchdown, which didn’t come until there was 3:29 remaining in the first half, when the Huskies were already trailing 21-0.

By Frank Gogola

If football was going to go to Fayetteville, Ark., and beat the Arkansas Razorbacks (3-1) it needed to not only play a perfect game — it also needed a bit of luck.

Instead, the Huskies (3-1) immediately dug themselves into a hole they had no chance climbing out of, losing 52-14 to the Razorbacks Saturday at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

The Huskies won the coin toss and deferred to the second half, which turned out to be a mistake. Arkansas’ Korliss Marshall returned the game’s opening kickoff 97 yards for a touchdown.

“They had a fine return,” said head coach Rod Carey, according to an Arkansas news release. “They executed well, and it turned into seven points for them. They made some blocks and got us out of our lanes, so they really executed well in that aspect.”

But things would only get worse for NIU.

The Huskies looked poised to get on the scoreboard on the ensuing drive as they drove down to the Arkansas 25-yard line. They passed up a field goal attempt, opting to go for it on 4th & 3; however, tailback Cameron Stingily was stopped for no gain on a run to the left, and NIU turned the ball over on downs.

With the Huskies facing 3rd & 6 from their own 25-yard line on their second drive, the nightmare start continued. Razorbacks defensive end Trey Flowers strip-sacked redshirt sophomore quarterback Drew Hare. Arkansas’ Darius Philon recovered the ball and scampered 14 yards into the end zone.

“I dropped back and was trying to make a play and should have had two hands on the ball and I didn’t,” Hare said, according to an Arkansas news release. “It was bad ball security, and that’s unacceptable.”

The Huskies put themselves into a 14-0 hole before Arkansas’ hyped offense even got a chance to get going.

Needing to answer, the Huskies promptly went three and out on their next series, losing 4 yards in the process.

Arkansas embarked on a 12-play, 69-yard drive, as their offense finally got into the end zone, picking up four first downs on the drive. Razorbacks running back Jonathan Williams found the end zone with a 15-yard romp, breaking four tackles along the way.

The Huskies were in a 21-0 hole with 0:21 remaining in the first quarter. The Razorbacks scored in all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — in the first quarter, and Williams’ touchdown proved to be the knockout punch.

“We’ll go back and learn from it,” Carey said, according to an Arkansas news release. “There is plenty of film on this game and plenty of things we still need to learn. You don’t lose sight of the fact that Arkansas is a good football team and they made plays and we didn’t.”