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Dick's 4 TDs Lead To 'Gigantic' Win
The Morning News/Razorback Central
Posted Nov 17, 2007
LITTLE ROCK -- Arkansas offensive coordinator David Lee said quarterback Casey Dick's performance hasn't been the reason the Razorbacks have four losses this season.
But there's no doubt the junior's play was an integral part in what Lee called a "gigantic" win against Mississippi State in War Memorial Stadium on Saturday.
Dick was efficient, mistake-free and surprisingly productive in the Razorbacks' 45-31 win, completing 14 of 17 passes for 199 yards and a career-high four touchdowns. The junior helped the Hogs, who played for the most part without running back
, find success through the air against a defense loading up to slow down running back Darren McFadden.
"When you're 14 out of 17 and throw for 200 yards, that's what it's about," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "You've got to give credit to your operator, your triggerman, who was very, very efficient."
It was an important outing for Dick, who was coming off what Lee described as his worst game of the season at Tennessee. He didn't hit open receivers, struggled to manage the offense and was eventually replaced by backup Nathan Emert in the second half of the 34-13 loss.
But Nutt told Dick and Arkansas' receivers they were facing an important test against Mississippi State.
Dick responded by completing 9 of 10 passes for 131 yards with three touchdowns in the first half Saturday.
He did the most damage in the second quarter, when he led the Razorbacks to four scores on four possessions. Dick threw touchdown passes to Farod Jackson, Marcus Monk and Robert Johnson, helping Arkansas open a 24-7 lead.
"I've got to give it to him," said Johnson, who caught three passes for 71 yards and 2 touchdowns. "He's had a long season. But he kept his head up, through the ups and downs and kept moving forward."
Of course, Dick had help Saturday. The offense struggled in the first quarter, but Lee said it got going thanks to a few plays when Dick wasn't even on the field.
Arkansas lined McFadden up at quarterback early in the second quarter along with running backs Peyton Hillis and Michael Smith. McFadden handed the ball to Hillis on two plays for 24 yards, then kept the ball himself for 17 yards to set up the Razorbacks' first score.
"That's when the game opened up," Lee said. "They had to call a timeout and try to adjust."
Dick came back on the field and tossed a screen pass to Jackson, who rumbled around the left end to score a 30-yard touchdown and give the Hogs a 10-7 lead.
He threw his fourth touchdown pass in the third quarter, when he ducked a tackler and found McFadden open in the flat. The running back caught the ball, turned and outraced MSU defenders down the sideline for a 57-yard score.
The touchdown toss was the 33rd in Dick's career, which tied him with Barry Lunney Jr. for third on the school's all-time list. It capped what might have been his best day, too.
"It ranks among them," he said.
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