Williams' TD catch saves Razorbacks from upset
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Casey Dick threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to D.J. Williams with 1:22 remaining, and Louisiana-Monroe's Jeremy Gener missed a 45-yard field goal, enabling Arkansas to escape with a 28-27 victory Saturday night.
The Razorbacks (2-0) trailed 24-6 in the third quarter and 27-14 in the fourth, but rallied for the second straight week to avoid a major upset. On fourth-and-1 from the Louisiana-Monroe 32 with 2:03 remaining, Dick faked a handoff and lobbed a deep pass down the middle while under a heavy pass rush. Chris Gragg came down with the ball at the 7 for his first career catch.
Moments later, Dick threw the winning touchdown pass, but the Razorbacks had to withstand one final drive by the gutsy Warhawks. Kinsmon Lancaster completed passes of 27 and 12 yards to Anthony McCall, but the Warhawks eventually stalled and Gener's final kick was off the mark.
Louisiana-Monroe (0-2) lost to Auburn 34-0 in its opener, but the Warhawks shocked Alabama in November and nearly took out another Southeastern Conference team in Little Rock.
Lancaster found McCall for a 33-yard touchdown strike early in the third quarter, and Gary Frazier's 1-yard scoring run made it 24-6. Dick answered with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Williams, then threw to Williams for a 2-point conversion.
Gener's 40-yard field goal gave the Warhawks a 27-14 advantage, but Dick found Williams over the middle for a 76-yard catch-and-run, the longest pass of the senior quarterback's career. Michael Smith scored on a 4-yard run on the next play, and just like that it was 27-21.
The winning drive began at the Arkansas 21 with 4:24 to play. For the second straight week, the Razorbacks needed a big fourth-down conversion. Last week, Dick completed a fourth-down pass, then ran for the winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter in a 28-24 victory over Western Illinois.
Smith rushed for 157 yards and two touchdowns. He was back in the lineup for Arkansas after being suspended for the opener.
Smith rushed for 121 yards in the first half, but the Razorbacks trailed 10-6 after two quarters thanks to an abysmal stretch of special teams. Alex Tejada missed field goals of 45 and 25 yards in the first quarter, then missed an extra point early in the second. After missing the extra point, Tejada was called for delay of game on the ensuing kickoff and then kicked the ball out of bounds, giving Louisiana-Monroe the ball at its 45.
The Warhawks capitalized, taking the lead on a 1-yard pass from Lancaster to McCall. On Arkansas' next possession, McCall blocked a punt, and Louisiana-Monroe took over at the Arkansas 21. Gener's 20-yard field goal made it 10-6.
On the next kickoff, Arkansas freshman Dennis Johnson caught the ball next to the sideline at the 1, then accidentally stepped out of bounds at his own 5 as he ran up the field.
Shay Haddock took over for Tejada on extra points and made Arkansas' last two -- including the one that provided the winning margin.
Bobby Petrino was hired in December as Arkansas' coach, and he faces a bit of a rebuilding project after the Razorbacks lost running backs Darren McFadden and Felix Jones to the NFL. Dick went 22-of-34 for 323 yards and two touchdowns, and Williams caught five passes for 124 yards.
Lancaster was 23-of-39 for 270 yards and two touchdowns. McCall caught six passes for 125 yards.
Arkansas was cheered on by a home crowd at Little Rock's War Memorial Stadium, but the Razorbacks were technically the visitors under an agreement that allowed Louisiana-Monroe to count the game's attendance of 55,048.
2022 Southeastern Conference Standings