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McFadden, Arkansas hold off South Carolina

Nov 5, 2006 - 4:47 AM COLUMBIA, South Carolina (Ticker) -- Arkansas tailback Darren McFadden could make a career out of running against South Carolina's defense.

McFadden rushed for a career-high 219 yards and two touchdowns as No. 12 Arkansas posted a 26-20 Southeastern Conference victory over South Carolina.

After losing its season opener to Southern California, Arkansas (8-1, 5-0 SEC West) has won eight straight games and is the only SEC team undefeated in conference play.

"That was a good win altogether - offense, defense and special teams," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "When you come into this kind of environment, on a national stage, you have to be ready to play. Our guys were ready."

As a freshman last season, the 6-2, 212-pound McFadden ran for 187 yards on 32 carries in a 14-10 loss to South Carolina.

McFadden, who ranked 18th nationally with 102 rushing yards per game entering this contest, passed that number 34 seconds into the second period with a 14-yard TD burst on 3rd-and-goal that opened a 14-3 lead. He finished the half with 129 yards.

"The offensive line just opened things up for me," McFadden said. "They did a great job, they always do. They gave me some good holes."

McFadden's first score came on a 43-yard jaunt with 4:27 left in first quarter that gave Arkansas its first lead of the game at 7-3.

The big game pushed McFadden over the 1,000-yard mark for the second straight season.

"It's a great feeling," McFadden said. "Coming into a tough road game and winning, it's just a good feeling."

Arkansas is 6-2 vs. South Carolina under Nutt. Its winning streak is the longest since Nutt's debut 1998 campaign, when the Razorbacks started 8-0.

Casey Dick completed 11-of-19 passes for 228 yards after replacing an ineffective true freshman Mitch Mustain, who threw an interception on his lone passing attempt.

"I felt real calm," Dick said. "Coach just put me out there and said, 'It's yours.'"

Mustain had been the starter in all of Arkansas' wins but that did not stop the coach from replacing him early in the contest.

"It was just a gut feeling," Nutt said. "I love Mitch, but this is a very critical time in November, and we needed just a little bit more experience. I had to go with Casey, and he did a good job.

"I have a lot of confidence in Mitch. He's going to be an outstanding quarterback. The route that he threw the interception on was one that he had done since day one, and when you mess that up, my gut instinct was just that I needed to make a move."

Dick's 50-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Monk with two seconds left in the first half gave the Razorbacks a 22-6 lead. Monk, who had eight catches for 192 yards, caught the pass at the goal line after it deflected off two defensive backs who collided with each other trying to make an interception.

"We'll get this behind us and try to correct what we can," South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier said. "We'll try to teach the DBs to bat 'Hail Marys' down at the end of the half and the end of the game. If we play smart we have a chance to beat some of these teams."

South Carolina's Syvelle Newton was 7-of-19 for just 76 yards before being replaced by Blake Mitchell in the second half.

Mitchell was 15-of-21 for 213 yards, two TDs and an interception.

"Blake Mitchell played as good a half of football, except for one throw, as any quarterback I've ever had, Spurrier said. "He was 15-for-20 until that last throw. For us to beat them, he had to play perfect and he didn't."

The junior threw a 10-yard TD pass to Sidney Rice with 13:50 remaining to cut the deficit to 26-20, but his interception to cornerback Darius Vinnett with just over five minutes remaining gave the ball back to Arkansas, which ran out the clock.

"I was just dropping back in my zone and kind of read the quarterback's eyes and went for the ball," Vinnett said.

The Gamecocks (5-4, 3-4 East) fell to 0-4 vs. ranked foes this season and must win one of their final three games to become bowl eligible.

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