Razorbacks rally for second straight week for improbable win
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) —
Cole Kelley scored on a 1-yard touchdown run with 1:55 remaining to help Arkansas rally for a second straight week to earn a 39-38 win over Coastal Carolina on Saturday.
The Razorbacks (4-5) trailed 38-25 early in the fourth quarter but were boosted by an 88-yard touchdown run by T.J. Hammonds and Kelley's final scoring run.
Hammonds accounted for 179 yards in the comeback win over the first-year FBS Chanticleers, scoring on the long run and a 60-yard pass in the first half.
The win marks the first time this season Arkansas has won two straight games, and it's the second time in two weeks the Razorbacks have recovered for a seemingly improbable victory — coming on the heels of last week's 38-37 win at Mississippi.
"Our guys are resilient, they never stopped believe," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said. "Down by two scores from the outside world, there are probably a lot of people that thought bad thoughts. Our guys thought good thoughts, and that's why we think at it that way."
Backup quarterback Kilton Anderson entered the game for injured starter Tyler Keane in the first half for Coastal Carolina (1-8) and accounted for 152 total yards in the loss.
The defeat extended the Chanticleers losing streak to eight games.
Bielema improved to 29-31 in his fifth year at the school with the win, though his future with the Razorbacks was in serious question as the Razorbacks appeared on the verge of losing to the lowly Chanticleers in the fourth quarter.
Coastal Carolina entered the game with an interim coach in Jamey Chadwell, a seven-game losing streak and then lost Keane in the first half.
However, the Sun Belt Conference school very nearly earned its first win over a Southeastern Conference school in three tries — taking a 38-25 lead with 12:57 remaining on Anderson's 10-yard touchdown pass to Chris Jones. Chadwell elected to go for the point-after and not a 2-point conversion to possibly go up 14 points afterward, however, and the Razorbacks closed with Hammond's long touchdown run and Kelley's final score.
"I thought it was the best decision at that time," Chadwell said. "You make decisions, you move on, and you make it and you roll with it, and obviously you lose by one point, but we had plenty of chances after that — with the ball, up 13 — and had plenty of chances to go up more than another score and we just didn't do it."
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers weren't competitive in their previous two meetings with SEC teams, losing 59-0 to Georgia in 2011 and 70-10 to South Carolina in 2013. They most certainly were against a struggling Razorbacks team on Saturday while winning the time of possession battle 31:02-28:58.
Arkansas: Arkansas appeared on the way to losing for a sixth time in seven games a week ago when it trailed Mississippi 31-7 in the first half. However, the Razorbacks rallied for a 38-37 win over the Rebels — quieting the calls for Bielema's firing for the time being. Those calls reached a fever point early in the fourth quarter on Saturday, and Arkansas still must likely win two of its final three regular season games to earn a bowl berth. They face LSU next week before finishing the season at home against Mississippi State and Missouri.
Coastal Carolina returns to Sun Belt action when it hosts Troy next week.
The Razorbacks begin a stretch of three straight SEC games to close out the regular season at LSU next week.