KJ Jefferson (5 TDs) leads Arkansas past BYU in shootout

Credit: Gabriel Mayberry-USA TODAY Sports

KJ Jefferson threw a career-high five touchdown passes as Arkansas pulled away from BYU in the second half to claim a 52-35 shootout victory Saturday afternoon in Provo, Utah, during of the very first meeting between the programs.

Jefferson passed for 367 yards and hit 10 different receivers to help Arkansas (4-3) snap a three-game losing streak.

The game resumed in the first half before the Razorbacks scored 17 straight points to move up 31-21 at the break. BYU (4-3) would never come within three points of the rest of the way.

Raheim Sanders rushed for 175 yards and two touchdowns, including a 64-yarder, to lead Arkansas’ strong rushing offense, which rushed for 277 yards.

Jaren Hall led the Cougars with 356 passing yards and three touchdowns, Puka Nacua had eight passes for 141 yards and a touchdown and ran for two more scores. Kody Epps had 125 yards and another touchdown reception for BYU, which has lost two straight games.

The Cougars started the scoring with a 4-yard touchdown pass from Hall to Isaac Rex with 5:39 left in the first quarter. Arkansas responded three minutes later and tied the game when Sanders landed a 15-yard run.

BYU used consecutive pass interference penalties on the Razorbacks to set the stage for a 21-yard TD pass from Hall to Epps with 1:11 left in the first quarter.

Arkansas took the lead on a 6-yard pass from Jefferson to Trey Knox early in the second quarter. But the lead was short-lived as Nacua’s 5-yard run pushed BYU to a 21-14 advantage with 9:48 left in the second.

The rest of the half belonged to the Razorbacks.

Cam Little started a 34-yard FG with 6:46 left before halftime to cut BYU’s lead to 21-17. Jefferson hit Matt Landers with a 4-yard TD pass at 3:39, then found Rashod Dubinion at 15 yards to give Arkansas a 31-21 advantage at the break.

BYU came within three points on Nacua’s 3-yard sweep on the Cougars’ first drive in the third quarter. Arkansas responded immediately with a 39-yard Jefferson TD pass to Landers.

Nacua completed a 33-yard touchdown pass from Hall with 5:11 left in third. The Razorbacks pulled away with a 5-yard TD throw from Jefferson to Landers and Sanders’ long touchdown run.

–Field level media

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