LITTLE ROCK — A former Arkansas Razorback and two who grew up in Fayetteville wanting to be Razorbacks doomed the Razorbacks concluding a second straight 2-10 overall, 0-8 in the SEC football season.
The fourth-quarter 10-yard touchdown pass from Fayetteville native quarterback Taylor Powell to former Razorback receiver Jonathan Nance pulled the Missouri Tigers from a tight 17-14 lead to a 24-14 SEC victory over Arkansas in the season ending game for both teams Friday afternoon at War Memorial Stadium.
Missouri receiver Barrett Banister, a Fayetteville native and grandson of former Razorbacks player, defensive coach, recruiting coordinator and Razorback Foundation president Harold Horton and nephew of former Razorbacks player and former Razorbacks assistant coach Tim Horton led all receivers with 6 catches for 60 yards including on Mizzou’s two first-half touchdown drives enabling the Tigers to lead, 10-7.
Coach Barry Odom’s Tigers, winners 5 of 6 times since playing their annual SEC season ending game with Arkansas, finish the season 6-6, 3-5 in the SEC East.
Dating back to Bret Bielema’s final three SEC games coaching the Razorbacks in 2017, Arkansas has lost 19 consecutive SEC seasons, including last year’s 0-8 under Chad Morris, fired this season at 2-8, 0-6 after a 45-19 non-conference loss to Western Kentucky, and finished the last two games under tight ends coach become interim coach Barry Lunney Jr. losing 56-20 at nationally No. 1/ SEC West champion LSU and Friday’s finale vs. Missouri.
The Hogs appeared to fight harder against LSU than their preceding seven consecutive losses under Morris. They rallied hard Friday behind ex-walkon Jack Lindsey becoming Friday Arkansas’ fifth different quarterback this season.
KJ Jefferson, last week’s starter against LSU knocked out of that game with a concussion, was not cleared to play Friday while an outbreak of mumps kept starting defensive backs Kam Curl and La’Darrius Bishop, reserve receiver Koilan Jackson and reserve tight end Hudson Henry from playing.
A cold, gray day and two struggling teams kept many Hogs fans home but the 33,961 that turned out vocally fought for their Hogs who did have their moments with 7-0 and 14-10 leads carrying the fight to Mizzou.
Lunney praised the attending fans for “showing what they are made of because it felt like 53,000 to be honest with you” and his players, too.
“We obviously didn’t play well enough to win and we didn’t deserve to win,” Lunney said. “But for two weeks these guys, they were in a very difficult situation, and they very clearly gave everything they had in an effort to win the game tonight. So for that I’m very thankful.”
Lindsey, earning his start finishing the LSU game with two touchdown drives with Jefferson and graduate transfer Nick Starkel both concussed, only complete 10 of 26 for 75 yards Friday but threw two touchdown passes, 19 yards to freshman receiver Trey Knox for a 7-0 first-quarter lead, and 10-yards to junior tight end Grayson Gunter for a 14-10 third-quarter lead and netted 50 yards on 4 carries. Lindsey committed no turnovers and saw some drives stalled by dropped passes.
“I thought he battled hard,” Lunney said. “And I thought he looked at times like a guy making his first start. But you could see he never really got rattled and even late (after taking a horrendous hit) he was staying in there and trying to make plays and competed. So I was proud of him.”
Junior running back Rakeem Boyd, a 1,000-yard plus rusher despite a 2-10 and adding 95 on 21 carries Friday, also praised Lindsey, a former Fayetteville High teammate with Powell, Banister and Mizzou defensive tackle Akial Byers.
“Jack did a wonderful job,” Boyd said. “Being a walk-on, getting out there and going to take your first start you've got something to tell your kids one day. I thought he did good.”
Mizzou also was without its regular quarterback, injured graduate transfer Kelly Bryant via Clemson.
Mizzou coach Barry Odom bypassed Powell, who has started in Bryant’’ injury-related absence, for freshman Connor Bazelak.
Bazelak completed 7 of 9 and directed a 75-yard drive capped by running back Larry Rountree (24 carries for 88 yards) running a 5-yard touchdown.
However Bazelak was removed because of injury.
Powell quarterbacked Mizzou’s second-quarter drive from its 44 to the Arkansas eight before
Tucker McCann’s 26-yard field goal for the Tigers’ 10-7 lead.
However in the third quarterback Powell committed the game’s lone turnover, throwing the pass that nickel back Greg Brooks intercepted and returned six yards to the Mizzou 26. Lindsey ran for 15 first down then on second and nine threw the 10-yard TD pass to Grayson Gunter
Two possessions later, Mizzou coach Barry Odom accelerated his offense uptempo upon Tyler Badie’s 31-yard run trigging an 8-play 84 yard drive with Badie scoring a 3-yard touchdown.
Arkansas’ last scoring bid fell short on Connor Limpert’s 54-yard field goal attempt followed by the Tigers driving again with Fayetteville’s Powell and 2016 and 2017 former Hog become grad transfer to Mizzou Nance hooking up with the 10-yard TD putting the game irrevocably out of reach.
“I noticed that they changed the tempo, and it worked out good for them,” Lunney said. “My guess is that sometimes playing a young quarterback to a degree like Taylor is who hasn’t had a lot of experience, sometimes playing tempo gets them to think less and just kind trust their instincts and good quicker. I think that was a critical move by them and a good strategy that did benefit them.”
Arkansas’ offense couldn’t match down the stretch what it had accomplished earlier.
“We just had to kind of eke our way down the field, and that’s a tough thing to do,” Lunney said. Now this (Mizzou) was a (nationally) top 20 defense we were playing today. We knew it was going to be a challenge and we knew we were going to need to have some field position and a turnover or two, and we had that going there. The formula for the win wast just coming to fruition — we just didn’t have enough to finish that out.”