Texas' Randy McEachern, who calls himself an average quarterback, performed like a Heisman Trophy candidate yesterday as he led the eighth-ranked Longhorns to a 28-21 victory over previously unbeaten Arkansas.
McEachern threw three touchdown passes, two to Olympic sprinter Johnny (Lam) Jones, and ran 22 times for 63 yards against one of the best defensive teams in the country.
Jubilant Texas Coach Fred Akers called yesterday's thrilling affair in front of nearly 80,000 spectators at Texas Memorial Stadium and a national TV audience, "your average old Texas-Arkansas game."
Texas scored 13 points in the final minute of the first half ot take a 20-7 lead. Then, after third-ranked Arkansas scored on its first two possessions of the third period to go in front, 21-20, the Longhorns socred the gamewinner with six minutes left in the contest.
Arkansas reached the Texas 13-yard line in the final three minutes, but couldn't score. The Razorbacks got the ball back at their 36 with a minute to play, but fumbled it away on first down.
"Texas won and we lost. It sure is getting old," Arkansas Coach Lou Holtz said. Texas, the only team to beat Arkansas last season, has lost to the Razorbacks only once in the last 12 years.
Arkansas had not looked overpowering in any of its first four games but, with a bye last week, was chomping at the bit to break loose. On their first possession, the Razorbacks ran right through Texas, 80 yards in eight plays - all on the gound - to take a 7-0 lead three minutes into the game.
Ben Cowins had a 32-yard run, then climaxed the drive with an eight-yard touchdown run. He managed only 27 yards the rest of the day, however.
Texas tied the score on a one-yard run by Johnny (Ham) Jones with three minutes left in the first period. What turned out be probably the most important play of the game came the next time Texas got the ball. On third-and-eight from his 16, A-J. (Jam) Jones ran for 11 yards around end, but flanker Ronnie Mikson clipped Arkansas cornerback Vaughn Lusby and fractured Lusby's cheekbone.
McEachern had not completed a pass in four attempts to that point, but with Lusby out and 5-foot-6 O.C. Jackson in his place, McEachern had a field day. All three of his touch down passes were over Jackson.
Both McEachern nad Akers tried ot be diplomatic, saying they didn't pick on Jackson. But it was obvious hewas the weak link.
McEachern first went after Jackson with a toss to 6-foot-6 freshman tight end Lawrence Sampleton, who jumped over Jackson to catch a 36-yard touchdowns pass with 59 seconds left in the half, putting the Longhorns ahead, 13-7.
Russell Erxleben's extra-point kick was blocked, but on Arkansas' first play from scrimmage after the kickoff, Johnny Johnson intercepted a Ron Calcagni pass and returned it 13 yards to the Arkansas 22. Four plays later, Lam Jones beat Jackson in the deep corner of the end zone on a perfect pass from mcEachern. Erxleben's kick was good and the Longhorns had a 20-7 lead at intermission.
Arkansas drove 69 yards, with Calcagni scoring on a one-yard run, on its first possession of the third period. On their next possession, the Razorbacks drove 62 yards, scoring a 27-yard touchdown pass from Calcagni to Bobby Duckworth. That put the Razorbacks on top 21-20.
It stayed that way until midway through the final period when Texas took over at its 40 following an Arkansas punt. Seven plays later, the Longhorns had a third and four at the Arkansas four. The big play in that drive was a 32-yard pass from McEachern to Sampleton.
There was little doubt what play Texas would run from the four. It is called "90 goal line jump pass," the play Lam Jones had scored on earlier.
He again ran to the right corner of the end zone and McEachern threw another perfect pass. Jackson didn't have a chance and free safety Trent Bryant was too late to help.
"There's almost no way any defender can defend against the play if you run it right," said McEachern. "You just lay the ball up and let the receiver run under it." A two-point conversion concluded the scoring.
Sampleton injured his ankle in preseason training and yesterday was the first time he had played a down at tight end. He caught four passes for 108 yards.
The victory broke Arkansas' 11-game winning streak, gave Texas, 5-1 overall and 3-0 in the Southwest Conference, the inside track to the Cotton Bowl and all but ended the Razorbacks Hopes for a national championship.
"Our mistakes were physical, not mental," said strong safety Brad Shoup. "O.C. (Jackson) was right where he was supposed to be on all of those scores, but athleties like Jones have tremondous leaping ability and they can make plays like he did."
Arkansas moved the ball well when it ran, but not so well when it tried to pass. Calcagni ended the day with five completions in 12 attempts with two intercepted. His backup, Kevin Scanlon was one for three and fullback Jerry Eckwood was 0-2 passing.
"We just lack consistency," Cowins said. "Sometimes we have a super offense, then we come out and look like we don't belong on the field. We killed ourselves."