FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas pass defense turned in an impressive performance in defending Texas Tech’s Air Raid offense last Saturday, breaking up 11 passes and intercepting two more in the road win.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas pass defense turned in an impressive performance in defending Texas Tech’s Air Raid offense last Saturday, breaking up 11 passes and intercepting two more in the road win.


The Razorbacks knew they were facing a different type of test against Northern Illinois on Saturday. And the front seven turned in an impressive response.


Defensive end Trey Flowers and the rest of the Hogs enjoyed a strong night in Arkansas’ 52-14 win. The Razorbacks slowed NIU’s ground game in the first half, put pressure on quarterback Drew Hare and even scored a touchdown.


Flowers led the defensive line’s charge with nine tackles — two for losses — a sack and forced fumble. The preseason All-SEC selection’s biggest play came in the first quarter, when he hit Ware and forced a fumble. Arkansas defensive tackle Darius Philon scooped up the football and returned it 14 yards for a touchdown.


It was Arkansas’ first defensive touchdown since cornerback Tevin Mitchel’s interception return at Rutgers last season. The score also was the Razorbacks’ first fumble return for a touchdown since Alonzo Highsmith’s touchdown at LSU in 2011.


NIU finished had 37 rushing yards after three quarters and finished with 123. It was well below the Huskies’ season average of 325.3 rushing yards a game.


"The first thing we had in mind was coming off the ball and attacking the gap," Philon said. "The next thing was playing our hole and just fundamentals and staying focused on what we need to do as a defensive lineman. We knew we were going to get quick pass, quick game and they did a great job at what they were doing as an offense. We just know we needed to keep pushing up field and having pressure."


Passing Success


Arkansas offensive coordinator Jim Chaney and the Razorbacks said all week they were confident they could move the ball through the air when it was needed. They showed off some of their passing capabilities against NIU.


Quarterback Brandon Allen completed 15 of 22 for 199 yards and two touchdowns Saturday. He threw a 10-yard touchdown to receiver Jared Cornelius late in the first half, then added a 44-yard touchdown to Keon Hatcher in the fourth quarter.


Allen was most impressive on the touchdown drive late in the half, completing 6 of 7 passes for 58 yards. He capped the drive by rolling right to avoid pressure and found Cornelius in the end zone for a 10-yard touchdown.


Arkansas finished with 215 passing yards, topping the 200-yard mark for the first time since the loss to Texas A&M on Sept. 28, 2013.


"I thought we did well," Allen said. "I was able to throw the ball with confidence and our offensive line did a great job of giving me time to throw. The receivers got open and caught the ball. Credit NIU for doing a good job of stopping our run a little bit. They had to put guys in the box to stop us and it opened up our passing game.


"I think tonight brought a lot of confidence in our passing game."


Injury Notes


Arkansas played without leading receiver Demetrius Wilson on Saturday.


Wilson, who had 6 catches for 76 yards in three games, didn’t play because of an ankle injury he suffered last week at Texas Tech. Wilson was replaced in the starting lineup by sophomore Cody Hollister, who caught three passes for 34 yards in his first start.


The Razorbacks also lost middle linebacker Brooks Ellis in the first half. The sophomore had four early on against NIU, but left after being part of a collision with teammate Martrell Spaight and was replaced by sophomore Josh Williams the rest of the night.


"A real dangerous player, even to our own," Arkansas coach Bret Bielema said about Spaight.


Arkansas lost another defensive starter in the fourth quarter when safety Rohan Gaines appeared to suffer a right shoulder injury.


Ramsey Starts


Arkansas linebacker Randy Ramsey didn’t just return from an injury after missing two straight games. The freshman started in the Razorbacks’ base defense.


Ramsey earned his first start at strong side linebacker, replacing senior Braylon Mitchell in the lineup. He became the second true freshman to start a game for Arkansas this season. Cornerback Henre’ Toliver started at Texas Tech last week.


Ramsey had two tackles in Arkansas’ win.


Extra Points


Two Arkansas players celebrated birthdays Saturday. Left tackle Dan Skipper turned 20, while tight end A.J. Derby turned 23. … Place kicker John Henson got his second field goal attempt of the season in the first half. But the senior pushed the 43-yard attempt wide right. He’s 2-for-3 this season after making a 21-yarder in the fourth quarter. … Bielema improved to 3-0 against NIU. Bielema also led Wisconsin to wins against the Huskies in 2009 (28-20) and 2011 (49-7). … NIU entered Saturday’s game outscoring opponents 55-5 in the first half, but Arkansas outscored the Huskies 28-7 on Saturday.


— Robbie Neiswanger • Arkansas News Bureau