Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Arkansas, got off to a fast start against Texas A&M. They controlled the ball, ran effectively and had a nice lead. Then it all came crashing down in the second half.
Yes it happened again. Arkansas had a 21-10 lead in the second half but lost 50-43 in Overtime. The final play of the game was Austin Allen trying to thread the needle on third and long but Armani Watts dove in with the interception to end it.
The first quarter looked like Arkansas had corrected a lot of issues on both offense and defense. Chase Hayden got more touches, even getting direct snaps. Arkansas rushed for 107 yards in the first quarter. Third down conversions were a major issue against TCU, again that looked better as TAMU only converted one of five third downs in the first quarter.
Even Cole “New Mallett” Kelley got some snaps! Arkansas unveiled a new package for short yardage to let Kelley just get upfield and get first downs. He got a touchdown pass to put the Hogs up 14-7 early in the second. After an Henre’ Toliver interception, Hayden punched it in for a 21-7 lead.
Then things got weird.
A long run from Kellen Mond should have been a touchdown, but an early whistle ruled him out at the 10 when he clearly was still in bounds. Arkansas forced a field goal and made things 21-10. Arkansas’ offense then stalled, there were some holding penalties. Allen couldn’t even finish his dropbacks and was sacked six times in the game. Despite that, the Hogs had a 21-17 lead going into the half.
Then things got bad.
Jared Cornelius went down just trying to start his route. The non contact injury took him out for the rest of the game. After it looked like Cornelius overcame those back issues, this injury just really sucks.
A Keith Ford touchdown gave Texas A&M a 24-21 lead, and it felt oh so familiar for Hog fans. Then Arkansas did something they hadn’t done against an FBS team since last year’s Mississippi State game, score in the second half points. Allen led strong drive that ended with a David Williams touchdown from the 1-yard line. The Hogs took a 28-24 lead into the 4th quarter.
Then things got really weird.
Arkansas battled throughout the fourth quarter, going back and forth with the Aggies but crucial mistakes sunk the Hogs. Did you know you shouldn’t kick it to Christian Kirk? It feels like common knowledge that you shouldn’t kick to Christian Kirk. Arkansas kicked the ball to Christian Kirk. He scored and put the Aggies up 40-36.
Then things got REALLY weird.
Allen had beautiful passes to Austin Cantrell and Jonathan Nance to lead a touchdown drive to lead 43-40 with just over 3 minutes remaining. Arkansas squibbed the kickoff and Texas A&M then took over at midfield needing a field goal to tie and a touchdown to win. After some, let’s say poor, clock management A&M hit a field goal to send the game to overtime.
Then things RE-oh you get the idea.
Arkansas won the toss and defended first. Christian Kirk caught what would be the game winning TD as Arkansas was stopped on their turn in OT.
Allen, despite receivers not getting open and running for his life, finished 12-25 with 229 yards and a 2 TDs. The rushing numbers were much prettier. Hayden finished with 77 yards on 13 carries with a TD. Williams had 11 carries for 68 yards and a 2 TDs, and even with all the rumors Devwah Whaley had a couple nice runs, finishing with 38 yards on six carries. Overall the Hogs had a very good 5.0 yards per carry.
The Hogs are 1-2 on the year and start conference play off with a loss for the 7th straight year. Arkansas did address a lot of the issues from the TCU game. Most notably the touches for Hayden and goal line issues were improved, but a lot of the same issues that plagued recent teams were still there.
Pass protection was still a disaster as A&M’s D-line basically lived in the backfield. Texas A&M was able to win the most recent games in this series on their ability to make game breaking plays. This year’s game was more of the same. Arkansas now finds themselves at 1-2 with New Mexico State coming to Fayetteville next. Arkansas will need another productive week like they had in the bye to keep improving and get where they want to be.