FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams soaked up the scene in the celebratory locker room Saturday afternoon.

FAYETTEVILLE — Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams soaked up the scene in the celebratory locker room Saturday afternoon.


There were smiles, laughs and high-fives all around. It had been awhile. The Razorbacks entered Saturday’s game with three straight losses, including their worst performance of the season against Georgia.


"It was definitely a lot better than walking into the locker room and putting your pads up and hearing silence," Williams said.


Arkansas stepped away from its SEC frustrations to revel in a feel-good performance Saturday, beating up on UAB during a 45-17 homecoming win in front of an announced crowd of 61,800 in Razorback Stadium. The offense scored on every first half possession, the defense didn’t allow a touchdown until the closing minutes, and the Razorbacks managed to make waves around college football when left guard Sebastian Tretola threw a 6-yard touchdown pass to long snapper Alan D’Appollonio on a trick play — and struck a Heisman pose after it was over.


It all added up to Arkansas’ fourth win, eclipsing the total from coach Bret Bielema’s first season with the Razorbacks (4-4, 0-4 in SEC). It also helped Arkansas finish 4-0 in nonconference games for the first time since 2011.


The victory didn’t erase the fact Arkansas remains winless in SEC play under Bielema. But it did offer some much-needed reprieve for a program that will kick off the final third of its season by traveling to top-ranked Mississippi State next week.


"I think our guys play better when you have fun," Bielema said. "You’ve got to have a delicate balance there. You can get away from your edge if you get a little too loose. There’s certain guys that can handle it and some guys can’t. But I thought (Saturday) was a good example of, first half we’re having a lot of fun kicking somebody’s tail."


Bielema said he wasn’t sure which direction the Hogs were headed after enduring consecutive losses to Texas A&M (35-28 in overtime), Alabama (14-13) and Georgia (45-32). The Razorbacks spent the week determined to get back to basics after fumbling through the first half against Georgia, though, stressing physicality and mistake-free play. They got it in building a 35-0 halftime lead against UAB (4-4).


Nearly everything went right for the Razorbacks.


Williams, who rushed for a career-high 153 yards, scored rushing and receiving touchdowns in the half. Running back Alex Collins got in the end zone. So did third-string running back Kody Walker, whose 5-yard score was his first since 2012.


Allen and the offense went 6-or-7 on third downs, didn’t commit a turnover or penalty and gained 346 of its 484 yards. Allen also connected on a deep ball the fourth play from scrimmage, hitting Drew Morgan for a 44-yard gain.


"We did a lot of good things," Allen said. "We had some big runs pop. We really got things going like we had been. We finally completed a deep ball. I needed that one. We did a lot of things we wanted to get done offensively, and the scoreboard showed it."


Meanwhile, Arkansas’ defense shut down a UAB offense that had been averaging 477.9 yards a game to 86 at halftime. The Blazers were without starting quarterback Cody Clements, who was injured in last week’s loss to Middle Tennessee. His backup, Jeremiah Briscoe, struggled in his first start this season.


UAB punted and turned it over on downs twice in the first half. It included a key fourth-down stop by the Arkansas defense, stuffing UAB on its second possession.


"It was big," Arkansas defensive end Trey Flowers said. "We knew it was coming. We knew they liked to hurry up after they get a short-yardage play, so we were just ready for it and got a lot of guys lined up correctly and it worked out for us."


But the most memorable moment in the first half was a trick play for the ages.


Arkansas led 21-0 when it sent its field goal team on the field for a fourth down play from the UAB 6-yard line in the second quarter. But the kicker and holder shifted out wide, while Tretola moved into the backfield. Tretola took a shotgun snap from Alan D’Appollonio, rolled slightly to his right, then threw back to his left.


His pass hit D’Appollonio in the hands for an improbable touchdown.


"I try to design something that makes as little sense as possible to the people that are lining up," Bielema said.


Tretola celebrated by striking the Heisman pose.


"I scored touchdowns in high school when I was playing tight end, but that’s really the closest I’ve gotten to that," Tretola said about his quarterbacking experience. "I’ve always been a fat boy, so quarterback was never the position."


Arkansas couldn’t maintain the overwhelming success in the second half, but did more than enough to pull most of its starters late in the third quarter.


UAB broke through with a 47-yard field goal in the third quarter, taking advantage of a big punt return by J.J. Nelson to make it 38-3. After Allen threw his second touchdown pass — a 15-yarder to tight end Jeremy Sprinkle — Nelson broke off a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to make it 45-10.


The Blazers scored once more in the final minute when Briscoe hit Nyiakki Height for a 33-yard touchdown pass to make it 45-17. But Briscoe finished 6-for-18 for 62 yards and an interception and UAB was outgained 484-195.


"Give Arkansas credit," UAB coach Bill Clark said. "They were as good as advertised."


Bielema wasn’t thrilled his team struggled through some sloppiness in the second half, but said it wasn’t surprising considering the big lead. But it didn’t ruin the mood of the Razorbacks after snapping the three-game losing streak.


Allen said the win was good for Arkansas’ "confidence and morale" as the Hogs move into the final stretch, beginning with Saturday’s game at Mississippi State. Bielema agreed, although he stressed he didn’t come to Arkansas to beat up on UAB,.


He’s confident the Razorbacks are capable of success in SEC play the rest of the way.


"I told them, ‘Hey, when you’re locked in and you’re playing with a little bit of an edge, you can play with anybody,’" Bielema said. "It’s all between the ears right now. I liked their response and hopefully some good things will happen."