(AP) Austin Allen has spent much of the season so far trying to regain his form, his coolness and — more than anything — his fun on the football field.
A much-needed win did just that for the relieved Arkansas quarterback along with his teammates on Saturday.
Even Razorbacks coach Bret Bielema took part in the postgame celebration following Arkansas 42-24 win over New Mexico State, taking part in some locker-room shenanigans by doing the Hokey Pokey for his players to watch.
“It was a sight,” Allen said. “It’s a tradition he’s been a part of when it comes to winning, and he wanted to let us try it out. It was funny. He did, he showed us the ropes, and hopefully a lot more wins come so we can keep seeing him do it.”
Every bit of the fun — and relief — was understandable for a Razorbacks (2-2) team that entered the contest having lost four of its last five games, including an overtime defeat to Texas A&M a week ago.
Before they could enjoy their locker-room dance routine, though, the Razorbacks first had to hold off an explosive Aggies (2-3) offense that was led by senior quarterback Tyler Rogers.
Rogers completed 23 of 38 passes for 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns in the loss, with much of his success coming via the help of senior Jaleel Scott — who finished with career highs in catches (9) and receiving yards (174).
Scott also had a 36-yard touchdown catch, but the New Mexico State air attack wasn’t enough to make up for a rushing game that managed only 11 yards on 14 attempts.
“We were playing the gaps and playing disciplined and they didn’t have a chance to get out and have running success against us,” Arkansas safety Santos Ramirez said. “That had a lot to do with this win.”
As good as the aerial attack was for the Aggies, Allen had plenty of success as well — particularly through the first three quarters. The senior completed 18 of his first 22 passes and finished 19-of-26 passing for a season-high 264 yards overall.
Allen also threw three touchdown passes, two to Jonathan Nance, to help Arkansas put an end to a two-game losing streak.
Devwah Whaley led the Arkansas rushing attack with 119 yards on 19 carries. The Razorbacks finished with a season-high 494 yards of total offense, including 230 on the ground.
“I think our guys knew going into that game that we could win,” Bielema said. “I think that was the chippieness, the anger, even from a coach. You do all this work, why not win a game. Why not put ourselves in a position to be talked about on a bigger scale?”