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NCAAF: KJ Jefferson rallies Arkansas past Rice

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KJ Jefferson accounted for three touchdowns and Jalen Catalon recorded two interceptions as Arkansas opened its season with a 38-17 come-from-behind win Saturday against visiting Rice in Fayetteville, Ark.

Jefferson completed 12 of 21 passes for 128 yards with one touchdown and one interception and carried eight times for 51 yards and two scores. Trelon Smith rushed 22 times for 102 yards and a score.

Owls quarterback Wiley Green was intercepted three times and was 12-of-25 passing for 152 yards. He threw a touchdown pass to August Pitre III, who had four catches for a game-high 97 yards.

Arkansas (1-0) opened the scoring midway through the first quarter. Jefferson took off up the middle untouched for a 34-yard TD run.

Rice (0-1) responded with a 25-yard field goal by Collin Riccitelli early in the second and then took the lead on Jordan Myers’ 1-yard TD run with 4:19 to go in the half.

The Owls carried that 10-7 advantage into halftime and extended the lead to 17-7 early in the third when Green found a wide-open Pitre for a 41-yard TD strike.

Rice’s ensuing kickoff went out of bounds, giving Arkansas good field position, and the Razorbacks took advantage six plays later by scoring on Jefferson’s 5-yard run.

The Owls appeared ready to counter with points of their own, but the Razorbacks stuffed Myers on a fourth-and-1 run at the Arkansas 18. The hosts then drove down the field for a 34-yard field goal by Cam Little to tie it at 17-17.

Early in the fourth quarter, Catalon intercepted Green and returned it 39 yards (helped by a Rice penalty) to put the ball on the Rice 4. Smith capitalized by plunging in from 2 yards out with 12:44 left to give the Razorbacks their first lead of the second half.

Jefferson’s 9-yard TD pass to Tyson Morris with 4:07 to go extended the advantage to 31-17 and Arkansas went on to improve to 14-1 in its last 15 home openers.

–Field Level Media

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