FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — In the days leading up to the game, Arkansas cornerback Ramon Broadway made a glaring mistake in his preparations for Georgia receiver A.J. Green. He said he didn’t think Green was that much better than most of the other receivers he had faced.
Broadway and the rest of the Razorbacks’ secondary got a firsthand taste of Green’s revenge Saturday as the Georgia receiver scored twice in a thrilling shootout in Fayetteville, with the Bulldogs prevailing 52-41.
“Everybody knows how good he is in our locker room, and that’s what matters,” said quarterback Joe Cox, who had five touchdown passes in the game. “If somebody wants to run their mouth before the game, that’s their problem. Obviously it might not end up good after the game when he has a couple touchdowns on them.”
Green’s second touchdown with 10:46 left to play proved to be the turning point in a back-and-forth contest in which the two offenses traded blows throughout and the defenses struggled to find their footing.
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Cox completed 18-of-26 passes for 375 yards and Green had seven catches for 137 yards.
“I think we had a perfect game plan for everything they were doing and we knew we had them on their heels,” Cox said. “We knew if we executed and made plays that we weren’t going to be stopped, and that was how it was the whole night. It was a fun feeling.”
Razorbacks quarterback Ryan Mallett finished with five touchdown passes as well, completing 21-of-39 passes for 408 yards, but the Razorbacks’ offense fizzled down the stretch, mustering just two field goals in the game’s final 20 minutes.
It was a back-and-forth game throughout, with a 17-0 run by Georgia in the second quarter proving to be the difference. There were 10 drives in the game that lasted less than three-and-a-half minutes, and the two teams combined for 1,015 total yards.
The fireworks began when Georgia’s problems with turnovers resurfaced early in the first quarter. Prince Miller muffed an Arkansas punt, and the Razorbacks took advantage. Mallett hit Joe Adams for a 34-yard touchdown over Miller to give Arkansas an early 7-0 lead.
The Bulldogs responded quickly. Brandon Boykin set Georgia up with strong field position following the kickoff, and Joe Cox connected with Green for a 30-yard gain to the Arkansas 26. Three plays later, Cox found Aron White down the middle for a touchdown to tie the score.
Two more Georgia turnovers led to quick Arkansas scores, however, and the Razorbacks took a 21-10 lead into the second quarter, but the Bulldogs took over from there, reeling off 17 unanswered points.
Samuel took a handoff on the second play of a the Bulldogs’ next drive 80 yards for a touchdown, and after a defensive stand, Cox and Green connected for a 25-yard touchdown pass with 1:51 remaining in the half to give Georgia its first lead of the game.
“It was a good little run – nothing big but a good little run,” Samuel said about his touchdown — the longest in two years for the Bulldogs. “The line blocked perfect so with a good block, I had to make something happen.”
The defense held firm and set Georgia up with good field position with less than a minute remaining, and Cox hit Green for another 28-yard completion to set up a field goal as time expired to give Georgia a 27-21 lead at the half.
The momentum swung once more to start the third quarter, as Mallett connected with Childs for a 40-yard touchdown after Boykin was beaten badly, and the two teams traded blows throughout the third quarter.
Cox hit Tavarres King for a 50-yard touchdown — the first of King’s career — to cap a three-play drive. Mallett responded with a 2-yard pass to D.J. Williams to complete a 5-play drive for an Arkansas touchdown. Cox connected with tight end Orson Charles just two plays later for a 44-yard score and hit Green for the two-point conversion to go up 7. Mallett couldn’t find the end zone after that, leading Arkansas on two drives that ended in field goals, while Cox’s second touchdown to Green ended up being the difference.
“The touchdown felt so good, just to come down with it,” Green said. “I knew our defense could stop them, but we just got rolling on offense and never looked back.”