Things could not have gone much worse for No. 8 Arkansas on Saturday night. The Razorbacks lost starting quarterback Tyler Wilson to an "above-the-shoulders" injury in the first half. They saw starting cornerback Tevin Mitchel and starting fullback Kody Walker carted off the field during a herky-jerky third quarter. To top it all off, they watched Sun Belt squad Louisiana-Monroe waltz into War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock, Ark., and ruin their top-10 ranking with a 34-31 overtime upset.
Some quick, breathless reaction:
It was over when: ULM quarterback Kolton Browning looked for a play-action pass while trailing the Razorbacks 31-28 on fourth-and-1 in overtime. With his slot receiver covered in the flat to his left, Browning reversed field and took off through the Arkansas defense. Browning got the yards he needed for a first down and kept going, outrunning two Razorbacks defenders into the end zone for the upset.
Game ball goes to: Browning deserves more than one game ball for this performance. The junior threw a whopping 68 passes and completed 42 for 412 yards and three touchdowns. Browning didn't just save the Warhawks in overtime, either. His final passing touchdown of the night was a game-tying 23-yard strike delivered to wide receiver Brent Leonard on fourth-and-10 with just 47 seconds remaining in regulation. He led the Warhawks in rushing as well, with 15 carries for 76 yards and the winning score.
Hogs hampered by injuries: Wilson was the first and most notable Razorback to fall out of the affair with an injury. The senior left the game with what was described as an "above-the-shoulders" injury in the second quarter. Not only did he not return to the game, he also did not return to the Arkansas sideline. Mitchel was the next loss when he took a scary helmet-to-helmet hit in the third quarter. Play was stopped for upward of 10 minutes while trainers attended to the cornerback, who had to be carted off the field. Reports from the sideline said that Mitchel was responsive. Walker needed the cart moments later when he left the game with what appeared to be a leg injury.
The players' well-being means much more than any result, but it's discouraging that the suddenly injury-depleted Hogs must host No. 1 Alabama next weekend.
Giant killers: This is the second time in five years that the Warhawks have laid out an SEC West powerhouse. ULM famously upset Alabama 21-14 in 2007. The Warhawks travel to Auburn next week. Based on the way the Tigers played Saturday against Mississippi State, they should probably be worried.
Stopped cold: It looked as if Arkansas would survive the evening without Wilson when backup quarterback Brandon Allen fired a 13-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Mekale McKay to take a 28-7 lead early in the third quarter. But the Warhawks outscored the Razorbacks 27-3 from the 9:42 mark of the third quarter to the end of overtime. Arkansas converted just three of 12 third downs on the night.