LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Sophomore quarterback K.J. Jefferson threw for a career-high four touchdowns, all coming before halftime, as Arkansas scored the first 45 points and defeated Arkansas-Pine Bluff 45-3 on Saturday.
Arkansas was in dire need of a bounce-back on the heels of a three-game losing streak, all against Southeastern Conference foes, and got it Saturday, at the expense of the Golden Lions (1-6).
The Razorbacks (5-3) scored touchdowns on each of their first two possessions and made big plays in all three phases — offense, defense and special teams — breaking that losing streak in grand style.
Treylon Burks, a junior wide receiver, caught two of Jefferson’s TD passes and also had a 49-yard sweep around the right side for the Razorbacks’ second touchdown.
In the first half, the Razorbacks rolled up 426 yards of total offense, 232 of those on the ground. For the game, they finished with 504 yards (291 rushing, 213 passing).
But the Razorbacks showed out in other areas.
Myles Slusher intercepted a pass in the end zone early in the second quarter to stop a potential UAPB scoring threat. That set up a 95-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard TD pass from Jefferson to Burks, extending the Razorbacks’ lead to 24-0.
Arkansas’ defense then forced a punt on the next series. Nathan Parodi fielded the punt at his own 20, reversed his field to the right side and dashed 80 yards into the end zone, the first time since 2011 the Razorbacks returned a punt for a touchdown.
Jefferson threw his final two touchdown passes inside the final three minutes of the opening half, starting with a 29-yard strike to freshman Ketron Jackson.
Then with exactly a minute to go before intermission, on a fourth-down from the UAPB 39, Jefferson threw it deep, with a streaking Burks catching it on the run near the 10 and taking it in untouched to put the finishing touches on a sterling first half for Arkansas.
For the game, Jefferson completed 10-of-17 passes for 194 yards, all in the opening half.
Jefferson’s first TD went to tight end Blake Kern for 18 yards on the Razorbacks’ initial possession, as they marched 65 yards in six plays to take a 7-0 lead just 1:22 into the game.
The second half was played with two 12-minute quarters. UAPB got its only points on a 32-yard field goal by Zack Piwniczka with 6:34 remaining.
It was Arkansas’ first appearance at War Memorial Stadium in two years, after COVID-19 wiped out the Razorbacks’ annual appearance in Little Rock last season.
Saturday was also the first time Arkansas played host to an in-state opponent since 1944, a win against then-Arkansas A&M (now Arkansas-Monticello). But it won’t be the last time Arkansas plays in-state, as the Razorbacks plan to play UAPB again in 2024, as well as Arkansas State the following season.
Arkansas-Pine Bluff visits Texas Southern on Oct. 30.
Arkansas has a bye week then dives back into the SEC, hosting Mississippi State on Nov. 6.
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