LITTLE ROCK — The last time there was an excused absence from a Razorback football game in Little Rock, Anthony Lucas caught an 88-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and the Razorbacks ended a three-year losing streak against SMU.

LITTLE ROCK — The last time there was an excused absence from a Razorback football game in Little Rock, Anthony Lucas caught an 88-yard touchdown pass on the first play from scrimmage and the Razorbacks ended a three-year losing streak against SMU.

Downtown, celebrations from War Memorial Stadium could be heard above the band playing at the wedding reception. Not every game was on TV in those days, and somebody with access to a radio proclaimed that the final was 44-17.

The Sept. 19, 1998, wedding changed lives and the two precious granddaughters from that union are an everyday reminder about the proper perspective on the outcome of sporting events — that an endearing “Poppy” is way better than a last-minute, on-field victory by the home team.

On Saturday, sitting on a church parking lot, Chuck Barrett confirmed that Arkansas led Mississippi State 34-10 at the end of the third quarter. There was no time for more; the service to renew vows after 50 years of marriage began at 6 p.m. and those occupying the two rows of reserved pews were supposed to be in place 30 minutes early.

Later came word that the final was 44-17. The victory was the last loose end in once-beaten Arkansas’ grand plan to play in Baton Rouge on Friday with a chance to share the Western Division championship of the Southeastern Conference.

That hoped-for opportunity took root in the second half of the Texas A&M game, survived threats in Oxford and Nashville, included a needed LSU victory in Tuscaloosa, and gained steam on back-to-back weekends in Fayetteville.

Killing time before donning suit and tie, telecast of the first three quarters from War Memorial included these highlights:

• Dennis Johnson’s big runs on two snappy first-quarter drives and Tyler Wilson’s on-the-run throw to Jarius Wright to set up the second touchdown and a 14-3 lead.

• Contributions of Greg Childs and Chris Gragg and Wilson’s consecutive completion streak of first nine and then eight. Despite a terrible fumble when he did not feel a blitz, Wilson was very good, completing 22 of 27 for 267 yards.

• Joe Adams’ adjustment in the end zone to Wilson’s underthrown pass for a 21-10 lead.

• Zach Hocker’s 44-yard field goal for a 14-point lead.

• A 2-yard touchdown pass to Chris Gragg, who had his best day as a Razorback receiver.

A co-worker in the press box filled in the following fourth-quarter highlight:

• Broderick Green into the end zone from the 2 in front of his hometown crowd.

That would have to suffice until friends who worked the game made the short trek to the church hall for the meal and the music. They could fill in some blanks, maybe even abscond from the press box with stats and quotes to be perused.

Leaving the head table at the shindig would be awkward and updating the column in front of 150-plus would be frowned upon by a spouse who has spent many Saturdays alone.

So, the rest is supposition:

• The Razorbacks were part of the evening’s conversation, but only a small part. The guests who cared decided that Arkansas has a better chance to score on LSU than Alabama, but that Wilson must remain upright.

• Revisited were the days when a sportswriter was kind enough to taxi a one-car co-worker home at midnight, a 20-something was the all-time quarterback and pitcher for kids in the neighborhood, breaking news oozed adrenaline at The Associated Press, the yips, and the decline of large family gatherings.

• Members of GWTTCP (Guys Who Think They Can Play) began planning a 72-hole weekend outing in the spring.

• There was catching up on kids, grandkids, and retirement, the latter by some who have taken the step and wonder why others have not.

• Conversations were face to face; no phones or abbreviated texts.

• Don Williams’ music ruled. Ray Charles, Elvis, Willie Nelson, and the Beatles shared the back-up role.

• Friends and family who embellished and enriched a 50-year journey shared the evening and were appreciated.

Harry King is sports columnist for Stephens Media’s Arkansas News Bureau. Email: hking@arkansasnews.com.