Kentucky Defeats Arkansas With Fill-In Quarterback

Ben Hicks, the senior quarterback for the Razorbacks, plays Sept. 28 during the football game against Texas A&M. Hicks took the field at the very end of the Razorback’s game against Kentucky on Oct. 12.

The Kentucky Wildcats (3-3, 1-3) defeated Arkansas (2-4, 0-3) 24-20 on Saturday with a wide receiver playing quarterback, as the Razorbacks lost their 14th consecutive SEC contest.

Kentucky quarterback Lynn Bowden, who had not played quarterback since high school, started under center because of multiple injuries to Kentucky quarterbacks this season. 

Bowden accumulated 274 total yards in the game. He ran for 196 yards and two touchdowns on 24 carries, and he completed 7/11 passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. Bowden’s 274 yards nearly equalled Arkansas’ total yardage as a team at 304.

Arkansas struck first for the first time this season on a 74-yard rushing touchdown from running back Rakeem Boyd, a junior, just 42 seconds into the game. Kicker Connor Limpert, a senior, followed by kicking two field goals to give Arkansas a 13-0 lead with just under six minutes left in the first half, as Arkansas looked cool and comfortable.

Bowden kept the game within reach with a three-yard rush into the end zone with just under a minute left in the second quarter, and the Wildcats went on to score 10 points in their next three drives to take a 17-13 lead.

Both teams’ passing games were absent, but Kentucky had an excuse: its quarterback was a wide receiver. Both teams combined for 210 receiving yards. Arkansas’ passing game was virtually nonexistent, with Nick Starkel, a junior, and Ben Hicks, a senior, taking snaps at quarterback, as they compiled 122 yards through the air. No wide receiver accumulated more than 44 receiving yards on either team.

Arkansas’ last victory against an SEC school was over Ole Miss on Oct. 28, 2017, a couple weeks shy of two years ago.

“Extremely frustrating,” Arkansas head coach Chad Morris said. “Did not feel like we executed in the key moments when we needed to the most.”

Kentucky doubled Arkansas’ time of possession in both the second and third quarters. Kentucky had 330 rushing yards, which was more than the Razorbacks’ total yardage of 304.

Starkel completed 7 of 19 passes for a mere 41 yards and no touchdowns. Hicks replaced Starkel with less than two minutes left in the third quarter and completed 5 of 8 passes for 81 yards. Hicks nearly doubled Starkel’s yardage in less than half as many attempts. 

A bright spot for the Razorbacks was running back Rakeem Boyd who rushed for 137 yards and two touchdowns on 15 carries. Boyd averaged 8.9 yards per carry and tallied 108 rushing yards on six carries in the first quarter. The Razorbacks averaged 6.1 yards per carry as a team. 

Arkansas returns home to face the Auburn Tigers on Saturday Oct. 19 at 11 a.m. The game will be broadcast on the SEC Network.

Parker Tillson is in his second year as a sports reporter for The Arkansas Traveler.

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