Arkansas leads K-State 19-9 at half of Cotton Bowl

January 6, 2012 - 10:27 PM
APTOPIX Cotton Bowl Football

Arkansas defensive tackle DeQuinta Jones (92) tackles Kansas State running back Angelo Pease (29) during the first half of the Cotton Bowl NCAA college football game, Friday, Jan. 6, 2012, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Matt Strasen)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Joe Adams had his fourth punt return for a touchdown this season and No. 7 Arkansas had a 19-9 lead over No. 11 Kansas State at halftime in the Cotton Bowl with a BCS-worthy matchup Friday night.

Adams' 51-yard return in the opening second quarter gave the Razorbacks a 10-0 lead before they even gained a first down.

Tyler Wilson threw a 45-yard TD pass to Jarius Wright with 4 minutes left in the half for a 19-0 lead before Kansas State blocked the extra point and returned it for two points.

Klein, who rushed for 1,099 yards and 26 touchdowns during the regular season, was limited to 15 rushing yards on 12 carries in the first half. But he threw a 4-yard TD pass to Andrew McDonald in the final minute of the first half after Wilson was sacked and fumbled at the Razorbacks 13.

Wildcats defensive end Meshak Williams was injured at the end of the first half, when he made helmet-to-helmet contact with a teammate when both were trying to tackle Wilson, who put his head down to avoid the hit.

Williams remained down on the field for several minutes being tended to by medical personnel and then placed on a stretcher. He gave a thumbs-up signal when being placed on a cart, then when he was being driving off the field extended his right arm high and flashed a Wildcat sign.

There was no immediate word of his specific injury or condition.

The Razorbacks played their second game at Cowboys Stadium this season, three months after they overcame an 18-point halftime deficit to beat Big 12 team and future SEC foe Texas A&M 42-38.

In their return trip, Arkansas led the Big 12 opponent at halftime and had shut down running quarterback Collin Klein and the Kansas State offense. It was the first game for new Razorbacks defensive coordinator Paul Haynes, who was hired in December after Willy Robinson resigned.

Zach Hocker kicked a pair of field goals (26 and 22 yards) for the Razorbacks.

Wilson, who threw for a school-record 510 yards in that Oct. 1 game at Cowboys Stadium, was 9 of 15 for 83 yards at halftime against Kansas State. Wright's only catch was the touchdown; he had 13 catches for a record 287 yards against the Aggies.

The punt return for a touchdown by Adams was the first in 51 years at the Cotton Bowl. The last was by also by a Razorback, when Lance Alworth had a 49-yard punt return for a touchdown in a 7-6 loss to Duke in the 1961 game.

Arkansas led 3-0 after Jake Bequette sacked Klein and forced a fumble, setting up Hocker's 26-yard field goal.

Tenarius Wright, the Razorbacks' other defensive end, jumped over a pile to recover the loose ball at the Kansas State 13.

Klein's fumble came on a second-and-33 play after a sequence that started with his 20-yard run to inside Arkansas territory being wiped out by an illegal shift penalty. He was sacked on the next play before a holding call and a false start pushed the ball all the way back to the 20.

The matchup of 10-2 teams is the only non-BCS game with both teams in the top 15 of the Bowl Championship Series standings — Arkansas is sixth, Kansas State eighth.

It also is the only bowl featuring the SEC vs. the Big 12, the top two conferences in the BCS computer rankings. Before the Cotton Bowl, the Big 12 was 6-1 in bowl games and the SEC 4-2.

Arkansas also had a big gain wiped out by a penalty, and didn't have a first down in the first quarter despite leading the game.

The Razorbacks had a 25-yard pass play for a first down nullified when Adams was called for pass interference on a play when he wasn't the one catching the ball.

Arkansas' only regular-season losses were to No. 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama, their SEC West rivals who will play for the BCS national championship Monday night.

At Kansas State, coach Bill Snyder has directed his second Wildcats turnaround. K-State could match the school record with its 11th victory, a mark it reached six times during a seven-year span in Snyder's first tenure before a three-year retirement.

The Cotton Bowl is sponsored by AT&T.