In a shocking -- and unexpected -- upset, No. 23 Texas A&M beat No. 10 Arkansas at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. Despite a sloppy and mistake-ridden game from the Aggies, they finished with a final score of 21-23.
Junior quarterback Max Johnson led the Aggies, after dethroning Haynes King as A&M's starting quarterback in last week's A&M versus Miami game, resulting in Johnson's second win of the season for the Aggies. The rematch between A&M and Arkansas took place on neutral turf, and AT&T Stadium was packed with fans from both schools. Although the Aggies performance was inconsistent -- with numerous penalties -- including three snap infractions on Johnson and a loss of yards, they ultimately brought home the victory in a game that surely will not be forgotten for some time.
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The Razorbacks kicked off the game with redshirt junior quarterback KJ Jefferson completing a pass to junior wide receiver Jadon Haselwood for a 10-yard first down. After a punt to the Aggies, and junior running back Devon Achane's 5-yard run , Johnson threw an incomplete pass to Achane.
The Razorbacks quickly took advantage of the Aggies' rocky start with Jefferson completing a pass to freshman wide receiver Ketron Jackson, who ran the ball for a 32-yard touchdown, scoring the first touchdown of the game. Freshman kicker Cam Little's successful field goal gave Arkansas a seven-point lead.
Jefferson and freshman running back AJ Green took turns running the ball, resulting in Arkansas landing a first down on their own 48-yard line. An incomplete pass followed by a loss of yards brought the team back to the 44. The team soon rebounded when redshirt junior wide receiver Warren Thompson made a 56-yard catch-and-run touchdown. Little came through with a field goal, putting the Razorbacks ahead by a generous 14-point margin and a score of 14-0 ending the first quarter.
A series of plays made by Jefferson, and freshman punter Max Fletcher, left the Aggies' offense starting at their own 7-yard line. A tough spot to be in when you're already 14-points behind. Achane met the challenge head on, using his impressive speed to sprint down the field, making a 63-yard run before being tackled on the 30-yard line, giving the Aggies the first down they needed to regain their confidence.
Achane and Johnson made back-to-back runs, bringing the Aggies to the 10-yard line when A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher called A&M's second timeout of the game. The Aggies came back with determination and put their first points on the scoreboard with freshman wide receiver Evan Stewart making a 10-yard touchdown. Sophomore placekicker Randy Bond's field goal brought the score up 14-7.
The Aggies' defense, ranked among the top 10 in the nation for scoring defense, struggled to keep the Razorbacks at bay in the plays that followed. Jefferson led his team in successful plays across the field until they eventually made their way to the Aggies' front door at the 3-yard line.
This was the turning point for the game.
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Jefferson took a forward dive in the hopes of squeezing past the Aggies' defense, proving to be a critical mistake. The ball slipped from his hands on his descent, resulting in sophomore defensive back Tyreek Chappell gaining possession. As Chappell battled for yardage, senior defensive back Demani Richardson slipped past, grabbing the ball and took off, handing the Aggies an impressive 82-yard touchdown. A missed field goal and no points from Arkansas during the quarter left the score at 14-13 at the half.
As the Aggies headed to the locker room, coach Fisher gave an on-field interview, expressing his displeasure with the mental mistakes of his team.
"We gotta get some stops though, they're driving the ball too much [and] making third downs," Fisher told ESPN. "And offensively, we've gotta quit shooting ourselves in the foot. We've got every first three drives, we had a motion penalty. Then we get a good drive here and we get a cut penalty, which you're not allowed to cut anywhere. And we're being self-inflicted wounds. Saying all that, we're only down one point."
Kicking off the third quarter, the Aggies kept their momentum as Achane quickly scored another touchdown within the first five minutes of the second half. However, their sloppy performance from the first half resurfaced as they received penalties for illegal blocks, holding and a false start. Despite the penalties, the Aggies were able to get close enough to the end zone to make a 31-yard field goal, giving the team a 9-point lead of 14-23.
Injuries Slow Down Aggies, But Not Enough for Arkansas
The loss of several injured players from A&M during the game allowed the Razorbacks to quickly regain their conviction. Regardless of the Aggies' lead, Arkansas took advantage of A&M's defenses being down, and completed well-executed play-after-play with little resistance from the Aggies. This ultimately resulted inJefferson making a touchdown, as his accuracy from the first quarter was revived. A kick by Little brought the Razorbacks within two points of the Aggies.
The Aggies fought hard to regain a wide margin lead but struggled against the Razorbacks' defense. After failing to make the 53-yard field goal, the Razorbacks were given one last opportunity to take home the victory.
Arkansas quickly made their way downfield, despite A&M desperately trying to fend them off. Arkansas was at the 16-yard line when a bad snap led to a loss of 9 yards. After a failed last attempt at the end zone, it was up to Little to make the 42-yard field goal and bring home a victory for the Razorbacks.
The ball sailed through the air, as the stadium held its breath. It landed on top of the right upright. And bounced right off. Aggies won 21-23 against the formerly 3-0 Razorbacks, in a game that both teams -- and fans -- will not forget for years to come.
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