FAYETTEVILLE — The Red team comprised of the first-team defense and second unit on offense ralled from a 17-3 deficit to take a 30-20 win before 18,576 fans in Reynolds Razorback Stadium.
Malik Hornsby and the Red squad managed to score the final 17 points on Saturday though it was the White offense that looked in control early. White quarterback KJ Jefferson took the team down the field on the first possession finding Mike Woods for a 33-yard touchdown on the fourth play of the game. That followed a 36-yard completion to Treylon Burks. Cameron Little added the PAT with 13:47 remaining in the first quarter.
Jefferson found Burks for a 31-yard touchdown with 3:12 remaining in the opening quarter. That pushed the White squad to a 17-3 lead. Earlier in the quarter, Little also added a 20-yard field goal.
Following the game, Jefferson talked about his confidence and connections he feels with both Burks and Woods.
“The connection on the deep ball with Treylon and Mike was pretty good,” Jefferson said. “We had been working all spring on it. Coach (Kendal) Briles is a huge believer in giving the guys on the outside a chance and letting them go up and make plays. Since we’ve got playmakers why not give them a chance. Basically I just put my trust in those guys and they trust me to put the ball in a good spot and they go make plays.”
Even with both touchdown passes was against the first-team defense Sam Pittman feels it’s something that will get corrected by Barry Odom and his staff. He praised both his quarterbacks Jefferson and Malik Hornsby. Jefferson finished the game 6 of 11 passing for 153 yards and two touchdowns while also rushing four times for 16 yards. Hornsby completed 11 of 18 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown while also rushing eight times for 13 yards.
“I was really pleased with both of them,” Pittman said. “KJ couldn’t have had a better start. He did some really nice things there. I think he’s certainly maturing. He’s got command of this team. His teammates believe in him and that’s hard, you have to earn that at quarterback and he certainly has. I just think when we’re able to run him I think he’s going to become a very, very good quarterback for us. I think once we’re able to use everything he has, but I do believe because of that situation (not being tackled) he became a better thrower this spring.”
Safety Jalen Catalon led the Red defense with six tackles including four solo. He also had praise for Burks and Woods and feels that makes him a better player as well.
“Most definitely,” Catalon said. “They’re both top-notch guys. I might be biased, but I think they are the best receivers we have in the SEC right now. They show it every day in practice with consistency. They make us better and I think the DBs are playing so good we’re making them better. So it’s an iron sharpens iron type of deal. But they’re ballers and will definitely help us out.”
Burks finished the game with two receptions for 67 yards and a touchdown while Woods caught a pair of passes for 40 yards and one touchdown.
Trailing 10-0, Hornsby took the Red team down the field with a big play on the drive being a 22-yard run by Dominique Johnson. The redshirt freshman finished the game with six carries for 59 yards. The drive was capped off by a 27-yard field goal by Matthew Phillips with 5:48 left in the first quarter.
In the second quarter, Phillips added a 24-yard field goal with 11:45 remaining before intermission to pull the Red squad to within 17-6.
Later in the second quarter, running back T.J. Hammonds raced into the end zone from 18 yards away to pull the Red team within 17-13 following Phillips’ PAT. Hammonds had nine carries for 67 yards and the touchdown to tie for top rushing honors on the day. His red teammate Donte Buckner had eight carries for 67 yards.
Little made a 38-yard field goal with 1:41 remaining in the first half to put the White team up 20-13. However the Red team wasn’t finished. Hornsby took the team on a six-play, 70-yard drive to tie the game at 20 with 29 seconds remaining before intermission. Hornsby found John David White for a 24-yard touchdown.On the previous play he had hooked up with White for 23 yards. White led all receivers with five catches for 87 yards and the touchdown.
Red running back Reid Turner put his team up for good with a 15-yard touchdown run with 7:18 remaining in the third quarter. Phillips added the PAT and then closed out the scoring with 7:49 remaining in the game on a 26-yard field goal.
True freshman linebacker Chris Paul Jr. led the White team and all tacklers in the game with eight including three solo and 0.5 for loss.
The other quarterbacks were Lucas Coley completing 3 of 5 for 30 yards and John Stephen Jones completing 3 of 6 for 22 yards for the Reds. The White backup was Kade Renfro who completed 5 of 10 passes for 58 yards and rushed five times for 23.