Rapid Reaction: Hog wild! Arkansas beats Texas A&M to end slide in rivalry, stay unbeaten
Turn that damn jukebox on! Yessssir, this isn’t your father’s Razaorbacks team.
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson passed and ran wild for one half, and the No. 16 Hogs upended No. 7 Texas A&M, 20-10, in a game of undefeated teams Saturday at the annual Southwest Classic in Arlington’s AT&T Stadium.
It was the SEC opener for both teams, but Arkansas was faster, had better tempo on offense, and were able to bring pressure on defense with just 3 rushers against Texas A&M’s depleted offensive line — at least for two quarters. Razorbacks DL Tre Williams set up residence in Texas A&M’s backfield and disrupted the Aggies’ offense throughout.
In short, Arkansas made the game just too fast for Texas A&M, and quarterback Zach Calzada, who was making only his second start, couldn’t get into a rhythm. The Razorbacks snapped a 9-game losing streak to Texas A&M, which saw its 11-game winning streak overall come to an end.
Jefferson threw for 202 yards and ran for 31 more but was injured on his first rushing attempt of the second half. He returned midway through the fourth quarter, but in the interim, the Arkansas offense came to a grinding halt.
It allowed Texas A&M to get back in the game. After being bottled up the entire first half, Isaiah Spiller popped a 67-yard touchdown run midway through the third quarter and the Aggies, who trailed 17-0 at one point, were within 17-10.
All the pressure rested squarely on the shoulders of the Arkansas defense, and collectively it came through. A Montaric Brown interception led to a Cam Little 24-yard field goal and the Hogs led 20-10 with 8:39 left in the game. Little, a true freshman, is 8-for-8 in his career, including a career-long 46-yarder in the first quarter to open the scoring.
But two explosive touchdown plays followed Little’s initial boot, giving the Hogs all the momentum.
Jefferson hit Treylon Burks in stride down the sidelines with a perfect pass and the speedy wide receiver completed an 85-yard touchdown play against an Aggies defense that led the nation in allowing just 77.3 passing yards per game. It was also the first passing touchdown Texas A&M allowed this season.
Arkansas took that 10-0 lead into the second quarter. The Razorbacks still have not allowed a single point in the first quarter through four games this season, outscoring the opposition, 34-0 in the opening period.
Burks caught 3 passes for 135 yards in the 1st quarter alone and extended his streak of consecutive games with a pass reception to 24. He is one of a handful of FBS players with at least one catch in every game played of his career (minimum of 20 games). He finished with 167 yards on 6 catches.
The lead was extended to 17-0 barely a minute into the 2nd quarter after Jefferson swung a pass out to AJ Green, who turned it into a 48-yard touchdown.
The Hogs threatened to put the game out of reach by halftime but turned it over on downs at the Aggies, 22-yard line late in the second quarter. Texas A&M LB Aaron Hansford knifed through the Arkansas line to stop a 4th-and-1 run for no gain.
The Aggies took advantage, marching 46 yards in 9 plays, to cut the Hogs’ lead to 17-3 at halftime. Texas A&M kicker Seth Small nailed a 49-yard field goal and with it became just the 5th Aggie and 4th place-kicker to score 300-or-more points in a career.
The Aggies needed much more than that on a day Arkansas announced it’s a legitimate contender in just Year 2 under Pittman.