Hamilton's record day sparks Arkansas past Tulsa


Hamilton's record day sparks Arkansas past Tulsa

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (AP) Even a dismal year for Arkansas hasn't tempered the performance of Cobi Hamilton.

The wide receiver's latest act of excellence helped the Razorbacks rally for a 19-15 win over Tulsa on Saturday, keeping their slim bowl chances alive. The 11-catch, 177-yard performance also highlighted a record-breaking season by Hamilton, who has made the extraordinary look routine.

Hamilton set the Arkansas single-season receptions record in the win, breaking current Minnesota Vikings rookie Jarius Wright's mark of 66 catches in a season. The senior now has 69 catches for 1,077 yards - only 40 yards short of Wright's school single-season yards record of 1,117.

It's a mark Hamilton figures to break next week when the Razorbacks (4-5, 2-3 Southeastern Conference) travel to No. 12 South Carolina.

``It means a lot as far as a personal goal, but hopefully (we) get the team to win,'' Hamilton said. ``We want to finish these last three games out and play hard, play Arkansas football and just finish well.''

Hamilton's two biggest catches Saturday came on the Razorbacks' game-winning drive in the fourth quarter. Trailing 15-13 to the Golden Hurricane (7-2, 5-0 Conference USA), who appeared poised for their first win over Arkansas since 1976, Hamilton caught 41- and 14-yard passes on back-to-back plays - giving the Razorbacks the ball at the Tulsa 1-yard line.

Dennis Johnson, who finished with 109 yards rushing on 22 carries, ran in to for his second touchdown of the game one play later to give Arkansas the lead for good - a refreshing feeling following a last-second loss to Mississippi a week earlier. The Razorbacks, after beginning the season ranked in the top 10, must now win two of their last three games to earn bowl eligibility for a fourth straight season.

``That's an improvement from last week, of course, but we've got to do better,'' Hamilton said. ``We don't want to make it that close. There's 80,000 people up there nervous, and me included, so we want to make it better and hopefully we finish well next week, a better start and a better finish.''

Arkansas' relief following the win was equaled by the Golden Hurricane's disappointment.

Tulsa rallied from an early 10-0 deficit and outplayed the Razorbacks for much of the game. Quarterback Cody Green, returning from a shoulder injury that kept him out two weeks earlier against Rice, was 15 of 18 passing in the first half before struggling to a 7-of-15 effort in the second half and finished 22 of 37 for 222 yards.

Tulsa outgained Arkansas 203-158 in total yardage in the first half, but it trailed 13-12 after a pair of failed extra-point attempts and a missed 42-yard field goal by kicker Daniel Schwarz. Tulsa, which has now lost 18 straight to the Razorbacks, allowed only one Arkansas score in the second half - Johnson's game-winning touchdown.

``Arkansas has jumped out on everyone early with the way they move the ball,'' Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said. ``Dennis Johnson is something we don't practice against or face often. Once we got up to game-speed defensively, we were OK.

``I love the way our team competes and plays, and it sticks in your gut because I felt that we should have won.''

Johnson's touchdown was set up following Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson's two big completions to Hamilton, who leads the SEC and is 4th nationally with an average of 119.7 yards receiving per game.

Hamilton spent much of the last three seasons in the shadows of former Arkansas receivers Wright, Greg Childs and Joe Adams - who were each taken in the fourth round of April's NFL draft. The 6-foot-3, 209-pound Hamilton, however, has evolved from overlooked to last man standing this season for the injury-riddled Razorbacks.

With tight end Chris Gragg once again out with a leg injury, Hamilton was one of the few proven options at receiver for Arkansas. That was just fine by Wilson, who finished 21 of 31 passing for 272 yards and has looked for Hamilton at every opportunity this season.

``Any quarterback has one really good receiver that they feel very comfortable with,'' Wilson said. ``All the greats: Montana-Rice, Brady-Welker, a number of different relationships there, and for me this year.

``Last year it was Wright, this year it's Cobi. You've got to have a guy you go to when it's crunch time, and he's done an incredible job. I think he's one of the best receivers in the country.''

Quick Links

So what does Josh Norman want from Redskins fans? 'Pandemonium'

So what does Josh Norman want from Redskins fans? 'Pandemonium'

Josh Norman made headlines last week when he called out a subset of Redskins fans for booing the home team and others for not showing up to FedEx Field.

Some fans took exception to Norman's comments, but on Wednesday, the star cornerback made clear exactly what he wanted from fans. 

"You want to see an atmosphere full with raving Redskins Nation fans and pandemonium," Norman said during an interview with Larry Michael on Redskins Nation. 

"That's what you want to see."

Norman's request seems more than fair, especially considering the 6-3 Redskins will take on the 6-3 Texans. Both teams are in first place in their division, and while Washington is coming off a solid road win in Tampa, Houston travels to FedEx Field winners of six-straight. 

"It’s big, because the other team is coming in at 6-3," Norman said. 

6-3 is the best Redskins record this late in the season since 2008, and Norman recognizes his team is trying to turn mediocre tide of recent years and that fans might need a reminder.

"To change that from the culture where it was to now coming around, come on man, we need your support."

For decades, the Redskins fan base was considered among the NFL's best. Venerable RFK Stadium had arguably the best home-field advantage in the league. Norman remembered that.

"This is a signature storied franchise," Norman said. "I grew up with it knowing the Washington Redskins and knowing how big it was. Down in Carolina that was our team. The Washington Redskins was the team of the South. Everybody was about that."

Times change.

The 'Skins left RFK more than 20 years ago and now Carolina roots for the Panthers. 

Still, for Norman and many players, the challenge is out there for the fans to fill up FedEx Field and make it a hostile atmosphere for the Texans.

"From the inside of the stands to the outside of it, all Redskins Nation going in there live, pumping us up. We feeding off of them, we giving them something to cheer for and they giving us back something to be excited for," Norman said. "Those big 3rd downs. As long as we need them, we hear those decibels. We need it up to 105. Literally just blow it off the roof, those decibels, just shoot them up. That’s what we need."


Quick Links

Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco


Lamar Jackson, Robert Griffin III prepared to start if hip injury sidelines Joe Flacco

Rookie quarterback Lamar Jackson has had his fair share of life changing moments. 

Winning the Heisman Trophy in 2016, being drafted by the Ravens in the first-round of the 2018 NFL Draft, and come Sunday, possibly his first NFL start.

With Joe Flacco nursing a hip injury suffered against the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 9, the 21-year-old could be leading the Ravens for a full 60 minutes against division rival Cincinnati Bengals in what could be a defining moment of their season.

"I'm just going into it like any other week," Jackson said Wednesday. "Just preparing for whatever."

While Jackson has appeared in all nine games going 7-for-12 for 87 passing yards and one touchdown, he is the only first-round quarterback out of the 2018 draft that has yet to start this season. 

When asked how he would feel if his name is called Sunday, Jackson said he would have "butterflies" at first but added once the ball is snapped, "it's on."

Through the Ravens' first half of the season, how and when Jackson is utilized at either quarterback or receiver, has lacked consistency. Add in the lack of highlight reel passes from him and many are concerned he's not ready for an NFL start. 

The fast style of NFL play compared to that of college football was something Jackson admittedly struggled with throughout the preseason. But with nine regular season games under his belt, Jackson feels that is the area where he's taken the biggest strides. 

"Calling the plays," Jackson said. "Before I'd have to ask coach a hundred times, 'say it again, say it again,' but now he says it one time to me. Don't get me wrong, sometimes if [the call] is long or whatever I have to ask [coach to] say it again, but other than that I'm getting better with that."

Head coach John Harbaugh offered no insight on who would be their starting quarterback on Sunday and it can be expected he'll keep hush up until the last moment. Flacco was not on the practice field during media availability Wednesday, either. 

But let's not forget the other veteran quarterback on their roster; Robert Griffin III

For the first time since 2009, the Ravens decided to keep three quarterbacks on their 53-man roster for this very reason.

After sitting out of football for a year, RGIII was given a second chance in Baltimore, but has been a gameday inactive since the start of the season. If the week progresses and neither Flacco or Jackson seem ready, it could be the comeback of the once Offensive Rookie of the Year. 

"That's my job. That's why they brought me here," Griffin III said Wednesday on if he feels prepared to possibly start. "They brought me here to be a pro. They brought me here to help this team if need be. I try to help the defense every week on scout team and then do those [reps], and if my number's called I'll be able to go out there and lead this team."

Both RGIII and Jackson said that it would be "awesome" if they were named the starting QB on Sunday, but that no matter who it ends up being they're all here for one another.

"I'm going to continue to help [Lamar] just like I have all season because we're about the Ravens here," Griffin III said. "It's not about individuals. We've got a pretty daunting task ahead with this Bengals team and then just with the rest of our schedule, so we've got to make sure we make the most of every opportunity."