No Shock In The Rock

No Shock In The Rock

LITTLE ROCK — It was a case of deja vu. For the second consecutive week, Arkansas committed the same mistakes, faced the same fourth-quarter deficit and found itself engulfed in another close call.

Everything went pretty much as it did last Saturday night. Arkansas' special teams again struggled. The wide receivers dropped too many passes. And quarterback Casey Dick made another improbable throw on fourth down.

And after everything shook out, the Razorbacks (2-0) got the chance to make another victory lap around their stadium following a 28-27 win over Louisiana-Monroe.

"Well, we kept everyone at the game," Arkansas coach Bobby Petrino said, drawing laughter from a crowd of reporters. "Down to the last minute, last second."

Dick had never passed for more than 300 yards or orchestrated a fourth-quarter comeback until last Saturday's 28-24 win over Western Illinois. But he again accomplished both, this time in front of a crowd of 55,048 in War Memorial Stadium.

The senior rallied the Razorbacks from a 18-point second-half deficit, keeping his composure as he drove the offense downfield and then connected with tight end D.J. Williams for an 8-yard touchdown pass with 1 minute, 22 seconds remaining.

ULM (0-2) drove downfield to set up kicker Jeremy Gener for a 45-yard field goal with 36.5 seconds left. But the potentially game-winning kick came up short.

"This is a team that just never gives up. They're a fun bunch of guys to play with in the fourth quarter," said Dick, who surpassed his career high for the second straight week by completing 22 of 34 passes for 323 yards and two touchdowns.

"Nobody had that look in their eye again. Everybody was calm, cool and collected."

Arkansas, 2-0 for the first time since 2003, trailed by as much as 24-6 with 6:11 left in the third quarter. But again, Petrino trusted Dick to make plays with his arm and an unproven receiver to step up at the biggest moment.

After cutting ULM's lead to 27-21, the Razorbacks got the football back at the 21-yard line with 4:24 remaining. And like he did against Western Illinois, Dick moved the offense downfield with a series of passes.

Facing a fourth-and-1 from ULM's 32 with 2:03 remaining, Petrino made a gutsy call to try a play-action pass to freshman Chris Gragg instead of giving the ball to running back Michael Smith, who finished with a career-high 157 yards and two touchdowns on 22 carries.

"We had two plays for fourth-and-1. One was a run, one was a pass," Petrino said. "I elected to go with the pass, probably because we got stopped earlier (in the game) on about fourth-and-2 1/2."

Though risky, Petrino made the right call.

Dick faked a handoff to Smith, then lofted a 25-yard pass to Gragg, who had never caught a pass in college before the play. The freshman made the 25-yard catch in between two defenders to keep Arkansas' comeback alive.

"I didn't even see any defenders," Gragg said. "I had my eyes focused on the ball the whole time."

Gragg's first career reception gave the Razorbacks first-and-goal from the 7, and two plays later, Dick threw an 8-yard touchdown strike to Williams for the game-winner.

Williams finished with five catches for a career-high 124 yards and two touchdowns, both coming in the second half.

"It came down to making plays," said ULM coach Charlie Weatherbie, whose team received $500,000 from Arkansas for Saturday's game. "We had several opportunities to win."

Arkansas' players found themselves in the same situation they were in a week ago, trailing 10-6 at halftime thanks to a number of missed assignments and careless mistakes.

Kicker Alex Tejada had perhaps the worst game of his football-playing career. And the rest of Arkansas' special teams didn't fare much better, opening the door for the Warhawks to pull off the upset.

Tejada missed two field goals and an extra point, was flagged for a delay-of-game penalty and booted a kickoff out-of-bounds before being pulled after halftime.

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