FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -- Felix Jones knew why his 80-yard
touchdown run was so easy.
"I didn't believe it," said Jones, who scored on his second
college carry in Arkansas' 49-17 win over Missouri State on
Saturday night. "It was my very first touchdown -- a long run like
that. All I can do is give credit to the line and my receivers that
made the blocks."
Arkansas' highest rushing output in 30 years was a team effort.
Peyton Hillis ran for 135 yards and three touchdowns, Jones had 137
yards and De'Arrius Howard added 120. The Razorbacks rushed for 483
yards, their most since running for 501 against Air Force in 1975.
Arkansas led 28-3 at halftime, but Division I-AA Missouri State
made it 28-17 on an 86-yard touchdown run by P.J. Ikner in the
third quarter. Hillis then scored on runs of 1 and 4 yards in the
"I don't even count those touchdowns," Hillis said.
"(De'Arrius) Howard, he got the ball down there. He had some
pretty good runs. I just wish that he could've got them, because
they weren't mine."
Hillis also scored Arkansas' first touchdown with a 32-yard run
in the first quarter. Freshman Darren McFadden had 70 yards on nine
carries and his first college touchdown, a 3-yard run in the
Marcus Monk had six catches for 77 yards and a touchdown for the
Razorbacks, who shrugged off a sloppy start to win their ninth
straight season-opener. Missouri State, known as Southwest Missouri
State until changing its name last week, fell to 1-20 against
Division I-A teams since moving to I-AA in 1982. The Bears beat
UNLV in 1990.
"I'm happy the way our kids came out in the second half,"
Missouri State coach Randy Ball said. "We missed too many tackles
on defense and turned the ball over way too much on offense. We
just challenged our kids at halftime to show their character."
Missouri State's Jon Scifres began the game with a low kickoff
that hit Arkansas' Freddie Fairchild near midfield and bounced
straight back to Scifres. The strange carom gave the Bears
possession and set the tone for a first half filled with turnovers.
Each team fumbled inside the other's 10 in the first quarter,
and Missouri State lost two more fumbles in the period, one of
which Darius Vinnett returned 44 yards for a touchdown to put
Arkansas ahead 14-3.
Robert Johnson, making his first start at quarterback for the
Razorbacks as Matt Jones' replacement, went 12-for-22 for 88 yards
with a touchdown and an interception. Backups Alex Mortensen and
Cole Barthel also played.
"I felt pretty comfortable, to tell you the truth," Johnson
said. "I wasn't nervous -- I was confident in our team."
Hillis had two touchdowns in Arkansas' season-opener last year,
63-13 win over New Mexico State. Against Missouri State, he
surpassed his career high of 66 yards rushing by the end of the
He also lost two fumbles in the game, and Monk lost one in the
"We've got to teach Peyton that there is nothing wrong with
putting two hands on the ball when he is about to get tackled,"
coach Houston Nutt said. "Those fumbles stop our momentum and we
can't do that."
The Razorbacks' running game more than made up for the
turnovers. Jones made it 21-3 early in the second quarter -- the
freshman ran around left end and breezed untouched for the score.
Johnson found Monk for a 5-yard touchdown with 2 seconds remaining
in the half.
Jones had 116 yards on his first three carries.
"We did a good job, but I am so upset about those fumbles
because we worked so hard on not doing that," Nutt said. "Overall
I am proud of our effort. We are 1-0, which was our goal and that
is a good feeling."