FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. -- First-year Arkansas coach Chad Morris said earlier this week that while Cole Kelley had been named the starting quarterback, he might not necessarily be the finisher.
Ty Storey may not have finished the Razorbacks' season-opening 55-20 win over Eastern Illinois on Saturday, but he did his best to put an end to the Arkansas quarterback discussion once and for all well before the end of the game.
Storey threw for three touchdowns and rushed for another to help the Razorbacks win in their debut under Morris. The junior did so despite not starting the game and only coming in for one play in the first quarter, a brief injury substitution for starter Kelley.
The performance was a welcomed breakout for the kid from an hour south in Charleston, Ark., especially after having attempted only four passes in his first three years on campus.
"Everyone goes through stuff," Storey said. "... It's been a while, and it was nice to get hit again and be out there and move around. It was fun, just being out there with my guys."
After finally entering the game as more than just a substitute on Arkansas' fourth series, Storey took control of the huddle -- and a game in which the Razorbacks were winning only 10-0 at the time. He threw for 214 yards and three touchdowns in the second quarter alone and finished 12-of-17 passing for 261 yards overall.
"Ty provided the spark that we had to have," Morris said.
Harry Woodberry threw for two touchdowns for the Panthers in their first game against a Southeastern Conference opponent. Woodberry was 9-of-15 passing for 96 yards off the bench, and starter John Brantley completed 18 of 25 passes for 134 yards and a touchdown.
Jamal Scott rushed 12 times for 82 yards to lead Eastern Illinois.
The Panthers, however, had no answers for a Storey-led Arkansas team that outscored Eastern Illinois 28-6 in the second quarter.
"Storey was the story," Eastern Illinois coach Kim Dameron said. "He came in and hit us on the big plays down the field ... I thought just the way he handled the passing game was impressive."
Jordan Jones led Arkansas with five catches and 132 yards receiving, also hauling in a 57-yard touchdown pass from Storey with less than a minute remaining in the first half. La'Michael Pettway added a pair of touchdown catches and 93 yards receiving on five receptions for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas managed only 80 yards rushing on 37 carries, but the combination of Storey and Kelley led the way to 350 yards through the air.
Kelley completed 9 of 12 passes for 92 yards and a 42-yard touchdown to tight end Austin Cantrell, but Saturday was Storey's day in Fayetteville.
"Moving forward, we'll re-evaluate things tomorrow in the film room," Morris said about the quarterback position.
After Saturday's breakout performance from the previously little-used Storey, it's hard to imagine the Razorbacks taking the field next week with anyone but the junior under center to begin the game.
After playing throughout the first quarter, Kelley didn't re-enter the game until late in the fourth quarter -- after the Razorbacks played freshman Daulton Hyatt for a series at quarterback.
"I don't think that's my job to answer that," Storey said when asked if he felt like he earned the starting position. "That's up to (Morris)."
The Razorbacks forced six fumbles in their first game under defensive coordinator John Chavis, recovering five.
Chevin Calloway forced one of the fumbles and recovered two for Arkansas, and linebacker Dre Greenlaw had 10 tackles in the first quarter before exiting with a leg injury, and Morris didn't have an update on the senior's status after the game.
"The defense definitely set the tone and helped up kick things off and get it going," Morris said.
Eastern Illinois: The Panthers host Illinois State next week.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks travel to Colorado State.