By Charles Goldberg
Press-Register Auburn Bureau
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — Tyler Wilson couldn’t miss, not with those 19 straight completions during one stretch, and his long touchdowns drives through another run, and scoring without interruption for most of the game.
Arkansas beat Auburn 38-14 Saturday night in Razorback Stadium behind a red-hot quarterback that showed what a passing offense was all about in a game that saw the Tigers lose against an SEC opponent for the first time in 12 tries.
Auburn, a surprising 16-13 winner as a 10-point underdog at South Carolina the week before, didn’t have an answer as a 10-point underdog against Arkansas. The Razorbacks improved to 5-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. Auburn fell to 4-2 overall and 2-1 in the league.
For Auburn coach Gene Chizik, it was the perfect night for offensive frustration after taking a 14-7 lead late in the first quarter.
“We did all the things tonight, all the classic things, that lead to losing,” Chizik said. “We turned the ball over on the road, dropped balls, guys who were wide open and we can’t hit them.”
Wilson’s 19 straight completions were the third longest stretch in SEC history. If that wasn’t bad enough for Auburn, the Tigers didn’t score after the first quarter. Arkansas did. The Razorbacks scored 31 unanswered points.
“It was a combination of a lot of different things. It was ugly football in the second half,” said offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn.
Wilson hit 24-of-35 passes for 262 yards. Barrett Trotter, Kiehl Frazier and a last-play appearance by Clint Moseley saw the three Auburn quarterbacks hit 9-of-25 passes for 104 yards and three interceptions.
Chizik deflected questions about the quarterbacks in his post-game interview, saying there were a combination of things that saw the offense sputter.
Wilson was hot, and Arkansas was good enough when he wasn’t passing. Joe Adams scored on a 92-yard run, the longest ever jaunt by an Arkansas wide receiver, and the second-longest run in Razorback history.
Wilson’s 19 straight passes came during a time when Auburn quarterbacks were hitting 5 of 12 passes. The Razorbacks pulled away during that time as the Tigers lost their step.
The Tigers showed up without their top two receivers in Emory Blake and Trovon Reed, out because of injuries, and their absence showed in the passing game.
“We’ve still got to find ways to get passing yards,” Malzahn said. “Tonight, we weren’t able to do it.”
Six holding penalties didn’t help, either.
“When you can’t throw the ball effectively, it’s hard to overcome those second-and-longs,” Malzahn said.
Auburn ran the ball well, going for 291. Mike Dyer scored on a 55-yard run to start things off. But running didn’t help Auburn come back.
Auburn tried to add spark to the offense with Frazier, its freshman QB, who shared time with Trotter throughout, and especially in the second half. But an interception to a wide-open Eric Bennett didn’t help and a second interception late followed a similar path.
Dyer and Frazier returned to their native Arkansas to score Auburn’s only touchdowns. Dyer got his on the longest of his career five minutes into the game. Frazier scored on a 7-yard run with two seconds left in the first quarter.
The Tigers threw three interceptions in the second half, though the Razorbacks were mainly playing against the run. Wilson didn’t throw an interception, directing Arkansas’ first four scoring drives over 71, 80, 65 and 92 yards. The Razorbacks’ last two scoring drives, set up by interceptions, and covered just 7 and 16 yards. But that was just for fun by then.
Dyer finished with 112 yards on 21 carries, down from 41 carries the week before. But the passing game sputtered. Trotter hit 6-of-19 passes for 81 yards and an interception. Frazier hit 2-of-4 passes for 14 yards and two interceptions.
Trotter also threw a fourth-quarter interception that first went through DeAngelo Benton’s hands. The Hogs didn’t do much after it, but didn’t need to. Zach Hocker kicked a 36-yard field goal for a 31-14 lead with 12:10 remaining. One of Frazier’s interception set up a short scoring drive. Wilson threw a 16-yard screen pass to Dennis Johnson for an easy score and a 38-14 lead with 5:50 remaining.
The Tigers will try to bounce back against Florida at home next Saturday.