KJ Jefferson passed for 187 yards and three touchdowns on a record-setting night to help Arkansas defeat Florida International 44-20 on Saturday night.
Jefferson became Arkansas’ all-time leader in career yards passing and passing touchdowns. He eclipsed Tyler Wilson’s yardage mark of 7,765 yards and now has 7,909. He has 65 touchdown passes, surpassing Brandon Allen’s mark of 64.
“It’s a surreal moment,” Jefferson said. “Just to be able to come here — it’s a milestone for me. I mean, that’s one of my goals is to come here and make sure I go down in the record books and make history here.”
Jefferson also ran 15 times for 90 yards. He paced an offense that gained 510 yards, including 323 on the ground.
Isaiah Augustave ran for 101 yards for Arkansas (4-7). The freshman entered the day with six carries for 21 yards this season. Injuries to Raheim Sanders and Rashod Dubinion early in the game opened the door for Augustave to get more action.
But even without the injuries, Augustave already had earned more playing time.
“Going into this week, I wanted to see what he could do in a live game,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “We needed a shot at running back. We needed somebody to make people miss, run over people, hit holes– whatever it may be, with some urgency. We thought it might put some urgency into all of that group as well by seeing that he was going to get the opportunity to play.”
The Razorbacks have won two of three after a six-game losing skid that brought questions about Pittman’s future. Pittman said he didn’t appreciate articles about whether he’d be fired and said they hurt recruiting.
“It’s an opinion world now, but I don’t think I’m getting fired, guys, or he (athletic director Hunter Yurachek) would have told me I’m getting fired,” Pittman said. “And so I’m for not sure why I had to answer these questions about getting fired or not. I don’t. But we’ll kill recruiting if we keep talking about it.
Pittman said some of the stories about his future contain false information.
“Media has become opinions,” he said. “I wish we’d post the facts, and whatever the facts are, then we can deal with it.”
Keyone Jenkins passed for 265 yards and two touchdowns and ran for a score and Kris Mitchell caught six passes for 157 yards and a touchdown for FIU (4-7), which lost its third straight.
Arkansas fell behind early. Jenkins ran for a 1-yard touchdown and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to Dean Patterson to put FIU up 13-7 late in the first quarter.
Jefferson put the Razorbacks ahead with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Broden. The defense got in on the scoring when Alfahiym Walcott returned a fumble 33 yards to give Arkansas a 21-13 lead. A 31-yard touchdown run by Dominique Johnson gave the Razorbacks a 31-13 halftime advantage.
Jefferson threw his third touchdown pass late in the third quarter, a 32-yarder to Isaiah Sategna that put the Razorbacks up 38-20.
The Panthers gained 341 yards. It was only the fourth time this season they scored 20 or more points. The Razorbacks were heavily favored and won the way they needed to.
Pittman on playing Missouri next: “It’s a rivalry game. They’ve got they’ve got a really very good team. They do. And we’ve got a lot of respect for their program. But I think a rivalry, you never know what happens. So we’ll have our kids prepared and I know they will as well. But I’m excited about having the opportunity to play them the day after Thanksgiving.”
Florida International hosts Western Kentucky on Saturday. Arkansas hosts No. 11 Missouri on Friday.