Oct. 10, 2009

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) -Michael Smith rushed for 145 yards and a touchdown, and Arkansas held off a late Auburn rally to hand the No. 17 Tigers their first loss of the season, 44-23 Saturday.

Arkansas jumped out to a 34-3 lead before Auburn (5-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) responded with a three-touchdown flurry toward the end of the third quarter. Dennis Johnson helped the Razorbacks (3-2, 1-2) regain momentum with a 70-yard kickoff return, and Arkansas shut out the Tigers in the fourth.

Ryan Mallett threw for 274 yards and two touchdowns for the Razorbacks. Ben Tate ran for 184 yards and two TDs for Auburn.

Smith rushed for more than 1,000 yards last year. Although the Razorbacks aren't relying on him as much this season, he's still dangerous. He rushed for 101 yards in a dominant first half for Arkansas.

The Razorbacks started the game by holding the Tigers to their first scoreless quarter of the season, and Arkansas took a 6-0 lead on Broderick Green's 2-yard touchdown run. In the second quarter, Auburn's Mario Fannin caught a screen pass in the backfield, but Jerico Nelson hit Fannin for a loss. Their facemasks appeared to become tangled, and Fannin ended up losing his helmet.

Smith made it 13-0 with a 25-yard scoring run. Fannin then fumbled away the kickoff, and Mallett threw a 16-yard pass to Greg Childs for Arkansas' second touchdown in 47 seconds.

Mallett's 5-yard scoring pass to D.J. Williams made it 27-3 at halftime. In the third quarter, Auburn wasted a chance to get back in the game when Tate fumbled a handoff deep in Arkansas territory. The Razorbacks took over at their own 5 and drove all the way for a 34-3 lead on Mallett's 4-yard touchdown run.

Last month, Arkansas jumped ahead of Georgia 21-10 in Fayetteville, but the Bulldogs scored almost at will after that and won 52-41. The Razorbacks nearly collapsed again, allowing Auburn's fast-paced offense to score three times in just over five minutes.

Tate scored on a 1-yard run, and after an Arkansas punt, he broke free around the right side for a 60-yard touchdown. The Tigers then held on fourth down and took over at their own 34. Terrell Zachery immediately went 60 yards on a reverse, and Onterio McCalebb scored on a 3-yard run a short while later.

Suddenly, it was 34-23, and Auburn had rushed for 207 yards in the third quarter alone.

Johnson's long return gave Arkansas good field position, and Green's 3-yard touchdown run made it 41-23 with 11:22 remaining.

Auburn quarterback Chris Todd fumbled on fourth-and-short, and although he recovered, the Tigers turned the ball over on downs with 9:48 left. Arkansas then pinned the Tigers back when Lucas Miller dove in front of the goal line like a soccer goalie to down a punt at the 1.