It was the first play of the fourth quarter, Jonathan Williams laid two yards from the goal line, and No. 6 Texas A&M was cooked. Arkansas was on the brink of taking a 35-14 lead, an edge the Aggies’ offense did not look capable of overcoming. But Arkansas offensive lineman Dan Skipper was hit with a personal foul call for tripping, and nothing about this game was the same.
Arkansas punted, and two plays later Kenny Hill found Edward Pope for an 86-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Instead of the scoreboard reading 35-14, it was 28-21.
After a three-and-out, Arkansas intercepted Hill with 8:34 to go, putting the Hogs in prime position to allow their ground-and-pound offense to salt the game away. One rush and two passes later, Arkansas punted for the third time in the quarter. After forcing a Texas A&M punt, Arkansas again appeared in position to win the game with a 1st-and-10 at the Aggies’ 31 with two-and-a-half minutes remaining, but quarterback Brandon Allen dropped the snap, putting the Hogs a 2nd-and-12 situation it could not overcome. John Henson badly missed a 44-yard field goal try and, again, Hill found a receiver – this time Josh Reynolds – for a 59-yard touchdown.
After yet another three-and-out with two passes and one rush, Arkansas was suddenly in the unbelievable position of going from needing just one first down to win the game with 150 seconds to play, to giving Texas A&M the ball with a chance to tie and then notch the winning score in regulation.
The Hogs defense forced the game into overtime, but all they truly did was prolong the inevitable. Hill hit Malcome Kennedy for a touchdown pass on the first play of overtime, while Arkansas’ Alex Collins was stuffed on 4th-and-2 on the corresponding possession. On the same end of the field where it seemingly had a 35-14 lead in hand, Arkansas made its final mistake in a 35-28 loss.
The story of the game was the Texas A&M defense adjusting to the Arkansas ground game, or the Arkansas running attack stalling out in the second half for the second time this season. (Arkansas rushed for 151 yards in the first half of its 45-21 loss to Auburn on opening weekend, and two in the second half.) After having its way with the Aggies’ defense in the first half with 143 rushing yards on 21 carries (6.81 yards per carry) – and that’s not counting Sam Irwin-Hill’s 51-yard fake punt touchdown – Arkansas ran 25 times for 92 yards in the second half (3.68 yards per carry). Allen could not carry the Arkansas offense after Arkansas’ offense slowed down, hitting 11 of his final 23 for 134 yards and a 44-yard play-action touchdown to A.J. Derby that gave the Razorbacks their 14 point lead.
While Allen started fast and finished slow, his counterpart did the opposite. Hill exploited Arkansas’ cottage cheese secondary for 290 passing yards – and three touchdowns that accounted for 170 of those yards – in the second half.
Texas A&M, its 5-0 record and Top 10 ranking still intact, goes on the road next week for an undefeated showdown at No. 14 Mississippi State next week.
Arkansas, meanwhile, has an off week to ask itself how it lost this game. The Hogs had 14 sure points taken off the board, plus a turnover inside enemy territory, and a missed field goal, and a turnover on downs in overtime. This one will sting. And, coupled with Kentucky’s win over Vanderbilt today, Arkansas now has the ignominious distinction of holding the SEC’s longest conference losing streak at 14 games.