Allen's late TD pass lifts Arkansas past La. Tech, 21-20
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. - Austin Allen connected with tight end Jeremy Sprinkle for a fourth-down touchdown pass in the fourth quarter and Arkansas rallied for a 21-20 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
The game-winning pass was from four yards out and came after the Razorbacks (1-0) trailed for much of the second half.
Making his first start at quarterback for Arkansas, Allen finished 20-of-29 passing for 191 yards and a pair of touchdowns along with two interceptions. Rawleigh Williams led the Razorbacks with 96 yards rushing on 24 carries, including a touchdown.
Freshman J'Mar Smith, playing in place of suspended starter Ryan Higgins, finished 19 of 31 for 212 yards passing for the Bulldogs (0-1).
Louisiana Tech took a 20-14 lead in the third quarter after a 20-yard field goal by kicker Jonathan Barnes.
Arkansas - after struggling to slow the Bulldogs pass rush for much of the game - then righted itself and put together a 13-play, 67-yard touchdown drive midway through the fourth quarter. Allen capped the drive by finding Sprinkle on a throwback to the left side of the end zone on fourth down.
After opening last season 2-5, including a loss to Toledo, Arkansas had stressed the need for a faster start to the season entering Saturday's home opener.
However, a pair of first-half turnovers by the Razorbacks led to two touchdowns by the Bulldogs - who settled for a 14-14 tie at halftime after kicker Barnes' 54-yard field goal attempt went wide right to end the half.
LA. TECH: Minus 13 starters from a year ago, and with Higgins on the bench, the Bulldogs looked every bit as good as its teams that have won nine games in each of the last two seasons. Smith had little problem picking apart Arkansas' defense, with wide receiver Trent Taylor leading the Bulldogs with eight catches for 78 yards.
ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks entered the season with three new starting offensive linemen, and their inexperience showed on Saturday. Arkansas allowed four sacks of Allen in the close victory, and it managed only 106 yards rushing on 40 carries - a significant concern moving forward into Southeastern Conference play.
LA. TECH: The Bulldogs take a break from Power 5 conference competition when they face South Carolina State in their home opener, a week before traveling to face Big 12 Conference member Texas Tech.
ARKANSAS: Life doesn't get any easier for the Razorbacks, who travel to Texas to take on No. 13 TCU.