7:00 PM ET, October 8, 2005
7:00 PM ET, October 8, 2005
LITTLE ROCK (AP) -- After Darren McFadden fumbled on his first carry, Arkansas coach Houston Nutt went right back to him.
"He's so tough," Nutt said. "He doesn't fumble very much -- that was surprising."
McFadden justified his coach's confidence, rushing for 125 yards, and fellow freshman Felix Jones added 102 to help Arkansas snap a three-game losing streak with a 44-15 win over Louisiana-Monroe on Saturday night.
McFadden and Jones each scored twice while becoming the first Arkansas freshmen to run for 100 yards in the same game. The Razorbacks, who entered ranked No. 4 in the nation at 277.8 yards rushing per game, had 321 against Louisiana-Monroe.
"They are something," Nutt said of his freshman backs. "They are very special. They hit the hole with such quickness."
Arkansas (2-3) earned its first win of the season against a Division I-A team -- its season-opening victory was against I-AA Missouri State. The Razorbacks, who play most of their home games in Fayetteville, improved to 18-1 at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium since Nutt took over before the 1998 season. The only defeat was a season-ending loss to LSU last year, but the crowd helped the Razorbacks put that loss behind them.
"They really were our 12th man out there tonight," Nutt said of the 54,209 fans who showed up. "The fans caused lots of problems with the noise level."
McFadden's 26-yard run on Arkansas' first offensive play ended with a fumble that Louisiana-Monroe's Marbrae Wilson recovered. But McFadden bounced back to rush for over 100 yards for the first time -- in his return to the area where he grew up and played at Pulaski Oak Grove High School.
"I'm from Little Rock," McFadden said. "It just feels great to come home and play."
McFadden also had a 64-yard return on the second half's opening kickoff to help set up Jones' first touchdown, a 4-yard rush that made it 30-8. Jones added a 3-yard scoring run later in the third quarter.
Jones had his second 100-yard game. He ran for 137 against Missouri State.
"When you can move it on the ground, you can do anything," he said.
Louisiana-Monroe's Steven Jyles went 11-for-25 for only 97 yards, although he became the Indians' career leader with 7,832 yards passing. John Holman threw for 7,827 between 1979-82.
"Arkansas has a lot of speed on both ends of the lines and they exposed that tonight," Jyles said.
Louisiana-Monroe (2-4) trailed only 3-2 in the first quarter after Arkansas quarterback Robert Johnson was sacked for a safety by Brandon Guillory, but the Indians' momentum was short-lived. Mason Denham fumbled the ensuing free kick, and John Johnson recovered for the Razorbacks at the Louisiana-Monroe 39-yard line.
"That was just huge," Nutt said. "I think that probably swung the game a lot quicker."
McFadden raced through the line on the next play, then cut toward the left sideline and scored to give Arkansas a 10-2 lead.
De'Arrius Howard's 4-yard run made it 16-2 in the second quarter -- the extra point was blocked. Louisiana-Monroe answered on a fake field goal. Holder Jesse Blair, normally a tight end, threw a 23-yard scoring pass to Joey Trappey. The Indians also failed to convert their extra point.
McFadden's 15-yard run with 2:15 remaining in the quarter capped a six-play, 80-yard drive and gave Arkansas a 23-8 halftime lead.
"When they did the fake -- took the air out of us," Nutt said. "To come back on top of that and execute a long drive and put it in the end zone -- you answered them."
Robert Johnson went 12-of-17 for 119 yards for the Razorbacks. His 5-yard scoring pass to Cedric Logan made it 37-8 in the third.
Louisiana-Monroe's Kinsmon Lancaster had a 4-yard touchdown run with 32 seconds to play in the fourth.
Arkansas has won all six meetings with Louisiana-Monroe. The Razorbacks have never started 1-4 under Nutt.