The 2009 season opener for Missouri State got off to a rocky start before the Bears settled in, eventually falling to Arkansas, 48-10.

Arkansas’ Dennis Johnson returned the opening kickoff 91 yards to put the Razorbacks up 7-0 before the first play was run.  MSU starting quarterback Cody Kirby then threw an interception at the Bears’ 46 on his team’s opening sequence.  The turnover resulted in seven more points for Arkansas six plays later on a 15-yard run by Michael Smith.

Kirby then got the Bears on the scoreboard by engineering a 56-yard drive to the Arkansas 36 yard line before it stalled, setting up a career-long 53-yard field goal by Matt Hottelman to make it a 14-3 game.

However, Arkansas answered on its next possession, going 74 yards on just four plays and capping the drive with a one-yard touchdown run by Broderick Green to make it 21-3 with 1:37 remaining in the opening quarter.

The Razorbacks kept the heat on the Bears early in the second quarter as Tyler Wilson entered the game at quarterback for starter Ryan Mallett to lead the Hogs on an 83-yard touchdown drive that consumed 16 plays and nearly eight minutes.  During the drive, Arkansas had the chance to punt once and kick a field goal another time on fourth down, but instead chose to push forward resulting in two fourth-down conversions and ultimately a two-yard touchdown pass from Wilson to Van Stuman for a touchdown to make it 28-3.

Jermaine Saffold took the ensuing kickoff all the way to the MSU 47 yard line, helping Kirby lead the Bears to the Arkansas seven yard line for a fourth-and-five play.  A pass to Clay Harbor from Kirby went incomplete, but Harbor was held in the end zone for pass interference, setting up a Bears’ first-and-goal at the two. On the next play, Jonathan Davis carried the Bears to paydirt with a two-yard score with 2:11 to go in the half, capping a 53-yard, 10-play drive.

Mallett returned to quarterback for Arkansas on the ensuing drive, and he drove the home team 77 yards on 10 plays inside the MSU five-yard line before a 20-yard field goal by Alex Tejada made it 31-10 for the final score of the first half.

The second half was much the same as Kirby continued to move the Bears’ offense, but the Bears could not produce any points.  After the Bears moved into Razorbacks’ territory early, Kirby was hit on a pass attempt, leading to an Arkansas interception at the one yard line on the misfire.  Mallett then led Arkansas 99 yards on seven plays to make it 38-10 when he hit Joe Adams for a 40-yard touchdown pass at the 11:13 mark of the third.

Tejada added a 24-yard field goal at the 6:14 mark of the third quarter, and Wilson later connected with Cobi Wilson on a one-yard touchdown pass with 9:55 to play in the fourth.

The Razorbacks’ 447 passing yards was a school record, while the 591 yards total offense was the most ever by a Missouri State opponent.

Kirby finished with 107 passing yards on 12 completions, including four to Harbor who had a team-high 61 yards. Chris Douglas was the Bears’ top rusher, carrying 11 times for 38 yards.

Arkansas had 144 yards on 30 carries, 50 by Ronnie Wingo, while Jarius Wright caught six passes for 139 yards, and Mallett fired for 309 yards on 17 completions.

The announced attendance of 55,572 was a sellout at War Memorial Stadium and the second-largest road crowd ever for Missouri State.

Missouri State begins its home schedule next Saturday, Sept. 12 when it welcomes Tennessee-Martin at 3 p.m. at Plaster Field.

Story courtesy of Missouri State Athletics.