Sanders helps No. 16 Arkansas rocket past South Carolina

Nelson Chenault-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – Darren McFadden and Felix Jones make for some serious company. Rocket Sanders can now say he’s there with those all-time Arkansas running backs.

The Razorbacks’ sophomore running back ran for a career-high 156 yards and two touchdowns in helping the No. 16 Razorbacks beat South Carolina 44-30 on Saturday.

Sanders joined McFadden, twice a Heisman Trophy finalist, and Jones, the player with the sixth-most yards rushing in school history, as the only three Arkansas players to run for 150 yards and two scores against the Gamecocks.

“Um, that’s good,” Sanders said after the game. He half-chuckled his next sentence.

“Of course I want to be better than those guys.”

Sanders ran for 578 yards and five touchdowns in his first season last year. With returning starter Dominique Johnson still sidelined recovering from a knee injury suffered in the Outback Bowl, Sanders has taken nearly all of the first-team reps. The result has been a 2-0 start for his team and him becoming the first Razorbacks player since 2019 with back-to-back 100-yard games.

Sanders scored the first two touchdowns of the game as Arkansas (2-0, 1-0 Southeastern Conference) found the end zone on each of its first three possessions against South Carolina and opened a 21-3 lead. The Gamecocks (1-1, 0-1) responded with two straight scores at the end of the first half and the beginning of the second to pull within 21-16.

Sanders wouldn’t score again as KJ Jefferson was the keystone for a bulk of the Razorbacks’ second-half touchdowns, but he ran for 95 of his 156 yards in the final 30 minutes.

Arkansas ran for 295 yards, and AJ Green and Rashod Dubinion also chipped in touchdowns.

“I was really proud of our offensive line. We asked them to kind of control the game and I felt like they did. I think the offensive line wore them down,” Pittman said.

Jefferson led a 14-play, 59-yard drive capped with his own 2-yard rushing touchdown at the start of the fourth quarter to move Arkansas back ahead by two scores. South Carolina lost a fumble on its next possession and Jefferson added a touchdown pass to Warren Thompson in response, ultimately putting the Gamecocks too far behind to rally.

Spencer Rattler tried. The Oklahoma transfer threw for 371 yards and a touchdown on 23 of 38 passing with a touchdown for South Carolina, but was intercepted in the end zone midway through the fourth quarter by Dwight McGlothern. The Gamecocks had three turnovers.

Jefferson was 18 of 21 passing for 162 yards and a touchdown. He ran for another 67 yards and the score on 19 carries.

“I thought he played better today than he did last week. I thought he was more accurate,” Pittman said. “I thought he was in total control. … He pretty much can take over the game when he wants to.”

Johnson is expected to return in Week 3 against Missouri State. He might find himself short on carries as Sanders’ development has put the sophomore in high company.

“I think he’s becoming an all-around back a little bit more,” Pittman said. “I thought he played really, really well. Two 100-yard days back-to-back is pretty good. He’s a better back than he was a year ago.”

THE TAKEAWAY

South Carolina: The Gamecocks had moments, but consistency was lacking in coach Shane Beamer‘s second year.

Arkansas: The Razorbacks’ defense held up well without two starters in the secondary, including former freshman All-America safety Jalen Catalon.

A BIG LOSS IN A BIG WIN

Pittman said after the game that preseason All-SEC safety Jalen Catalon would miss the rest of the season because of a shoulder injury. Catalon was lost midway through Arkansas’ win over Cincinnati last week.

Catalon was a freshman All-American two seasons ago, but missed the back-half of the Razorbacks’ season last year because of a shoulder injury.

IT’S BEEN A WHILE

Arkansas’ win over South Carolina was the Razorbacks’ first since 2011. The teams had met only three times since before Saturday with the Gamecocks winning each.

POLL IMPLICATIONS

Arkansas likely won’t do any worse than staying put at No. 16 when the polls are released Sunday.

UP NEXT

South Carolina: Hosts defending national champion Georgia in Week 3

Arkansas: Missouri State comes to town next week, lea by former Razorbacks head coach Bobby Petrino.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

west virginia football
Lee Coleman/Getty Images
0 Comments

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports
0 Comments

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.