Pettway's 3 touchdowns lead No. 21 Auburn past Arkansas
By KURT VOIGT
Oct. 22, 2017
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) — Kamryn Pettway has been forgotten somewhat this season in Auburn's backfield, thanks to the emergence of national rushing touchdown leader and teammate Kerryon Johnson.
The Tigers junior reminded the rest of the Southeastern Conference just how good he can be when fully healthy on Saturday night, rushing for 90 yards and three touchdowns in a 52-20 victory over Arkansas.
The win helped ease the leftover frustration of No. 21 Auburn's (6-2, 4-1) loss last week to LSU , and it was Pettway who led the way — rushing for his most yards in a game since gaining 128 in a win last month over Mercer.
Pettway rushed for 1,224 yards last season, but he's been hampered by leg and ankle injuries for much of this season and has missed three games. He only had four carries for seven yards in last week's loss, but the 6-foot, 235-pound power back was in peak form on Saturday night while scoring on runs of 2, 38 and 11 yards.
"We bounced back from a really tough loss last week," Auburn coach Gus Malzahn said. "... (Pettway) ran with good pad level, he broke some tackles, he kept his feet. He kind of looked like that time last year, that stretch when he was really running well."
Jarrett Stidham completed 19 of 28 passes for 218 yards and rushed for a touchdown for Auburn.
It was Pettway, however, who led a Tigers rushing attack that amassed 345 yards overall and outgained their SEC West counterparts 629-334. Auburn has now outscored the Razorbacks (2-4, 0-4) 108-26 over the last two seasons.
"I'm happy that (Pettway) was back in his element, running the football physically and demanding more yards," Stidham said. "He did a great job tonight."
Arkansas freshman Cole Kelley, making his second straight start in place of the injured Austin Allen, finished 14-of-25 passing for 138 yards.
The Razorbacks have lost seven of their last nine games dating to last season and are 27-31 overall under fifth-year coach Bret Bielema, 10-26 in the SEC.
"I'm disappointed for our guys, our players, our fans," Bielema said. "I thought we had a live crowd out there tonight. It was fun to walk out there in that environment and obviously we didn't give them a reason to sustain it in the second half."
AUBURN: Johnson entered the game as the national leader in rushing touchdowns with 13. The junior added to his total with a two-yard score in the first half and finished with 63 yards rushing on 21 carries, and he and Pettway combined for 153 yards rushing on the night — a welcomed sign for a Tigers team that must win out if it hopes to keep its remote chances at a berth in the College Football Playoff alive.
ARKANSAS: The Razorbacks have scored 29 points in their last two games without Allen, their worst two-week stretch in back-to-back losses since scoring a combined seven points in losses South Carolina and Alabama in 2013. Arkansas finished 3-9 that season in Bielema's first year at the school, and it enters its final five games unsure when Allen will be able to return from the injury he suffered to his throwing shoulder in a defeat at South Carolina two weeks ago.
Arkansas has given up more than 40 points in four straight SEC games this year, 16 times overall during Bielema's five seasons. The Razorbacks switched to a 3-4 look in the offseason with hopes of improving a defense that allowed an average of 6.75 yards per play a year ago. However, they're now giving up an average of 34.4 points per game for the season.
Razorbacks running back Chase Hayden suffered a lower leg injury near the end of his 40-yard run in the first half and didn't return. Bielema didn't say what the freshman's injury was after the game, but he did say it looks like Hayden will miss "a significant amount of time."
Auburn nearly fell out of the Top 25 after last week's loss, but it still has plenty of chances left to regain a national foothold. Saturday's win helps, but games against No. 3 Georgia (Nov. 11) and No. 1 Alabama (Nov. 25) will tell the story of how far the Tigers can still climb.
Auburn is off next week before playing its third straight road game when it visits Texas A&M on Nov. 4
The Razorbacks travel to Mississippi next week.
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Follow Kurt Voigt on Twitter at @Kurt_Voigt_AP