FAYETTEVILLE — Before Saturday’s kickoff, Jonathan Williams got on Twitter and posted “Imma score a td today.”
However, the freshman running back didn’t predict the spectacular manner he’d score his first TD for Arkansas. Or that he’d score a second equally exciting one in a 49-7 severe-weather shortened Razorbacks’ win against Kentucky.
After the Arkansas defense forced a three-and-out on Kentucky’s first possession, the Razorbacks got the ball at their own 26. Quarterback Tyler Wilson dropped back and looked left. Williams was running down the sideline and the Wildcat covering him slipped on the rain-slickened Razorback Stadium turf.
Wilson hit Williams in stride, who then slipped through the grasp of two more Wildcats as he cut back across the field. He sprinted to the right corner of the end zone and dove in for his first career TD on his first career reception.
Wilson said the play was almost an exact replica of one from earlier in the week.
“It was big, first play of the game, it was exactly how we drew it up,” Wilson said. “Earlier in the week, in practice, he made a move similar to the one he did — cutting back across the field and scoring a touchdown.”
Wilson said he knew Williams was his main target as soon as they reached the line of scrimmage.
“I knew he was one-on-one versus a defensive end in that look. I like my odds on a wheel route (in that situation),” Wilson said. “We knew we had to get him involved … to help us, because he can do a lot after the catch.”
Williams ended the first quarter just as he started it.
After Arkansas got the ball back with four seconds left in the quarter, Williams ran the same wheel route down the sideline. Again Wilson hit him perfectly in stride and Williams did the rest for a 77-yard touchdown.
With the catches, Williams became the first UA freshman with two touchdowns of 74-yards or more in one game. The only longer touchdowns for Arkansas this season was an 80-yard Wilson to Cobi Hamilton pass in the fourth quarter of the Rutgers game.
Arkansas head coach John L. Smith said Williams’ big first quarter is the tip of the iceberg for what the freshman from Allen, Texas, can do.
“He’s a tremendous football player. We like using him a lot … he can run down the field and catch the football,” Smith said. “Plus he’s a real good running back. He’s got tremendous vision. He’s got things you can’t teach and one of those things is great vision. He’ll go here, drift there and you’ll go ‘Well, how did you see that?’ and he’ll say ‘I don’t know, I just did.’ He’s like that. He’ll continue to get better.”
Williams finished the quarter — and game — with three catches for 150 yards and two TDs. Not a bad effort for a player who had not caught a pass coming into the Kentucky game. Williams’ only previous stats were 20 carries for 95 yards.
Wilson finished the first quarter 11-of-12 for 263 yards and three touchdowns. His QB rating for the opening quarter was 358.3. He finished the game completing 23-of-33 attempts for 372 yards and a school-record tying five touchdowns for a 208.1 rating. Ryan Mallett threw for five touchdowns against UTEP in 2010.