Closer than expected, but in the end just not enough.
The Arkansas football team (3-2) stayed close, but could’t get enough points to pull the upset over the #10 Texas A&M Aggies (4-1), but came up short losing 45-33.
The Hogs kept the game close and responded multiple times to reigning Heisman trophy winner Johnny Manziel and the high-powered A&M offense, but just couldn’t pull ahead.
It was announced Friday night to everyone’s surprise that quarterback Brandon Allen, who missed last week’s game, would start on Saturday. That proved to be the right call as Allen played a very good game despite two interceptions. He finished going 17-of-36 for 282 yards and three touchdowns to keep Arkansas close to the Aggies.
The opening play of the game was one that the Razorbacks would like to forget as Manziel threw a 49-yard pass to his favorite target Mike Evans.
The duo would connect again on the drive with a 9-yard touchdown pass on a third down to take the early 7-0 lead.
Arkansas drove straight down the field and converted on a fourth and one thanks to a A&M offside penalty in the red zone. Allen made the best of the gift and hit Keon Hatcher over the middle for a 12-yard score to tie the game 7-7.
Manziel made quick work on the ensuing drive, scrambling on a third and ten for the first and then handing off to Ben Malena for a 2-yard touchdown.
The Razorbacks punted and the Aggies went 34 yards to kick a field goal which made their lead 17-7 heading in to the second quarter.
Arkansas came back with a 28-yard field goal by Zach Hocker and put the Hogs only down seven.
Manziel worked his magic on the next drive for the Aggies.
On a third down on the Arkansas 7, Manziel escaped the blitz, rolled around outside the pocket and lofted up a pass in the back of the end zone for Evans out jumped the Razorback defenders for the catch and score.
The Aggies were now up by two scores, 24-10.
The offense for the Hogs came through again by way of nice runs by Jonathan Williams and freshman Korliss Marshall to set up a 19-yard touchdown pass to Williams in the corner of the end zone.
The Hog’s defense finally gave the offense a break on the following drive, forcing A&M to punt, but with only two minutes to play until the half.
Arkansas was seemingly pleased with the current score and planned on running out the clock to go into half by seven, but Alex Collins had different plans.
After a first down, Collins busted on the outside for a 38-yard gain and put the Hogs near field goal range.
A couple of short passes got Arkansas down to the A&M 22 where Hocker booted another field goal through the uprights that put the score at 24-20 going into half.
On the opening drive of the second half, Allen was baited by Deshazor Everett to throw a short route and he broke in front of the receiver and took it in for the pick-six extending the Aggie lead to 11.
Again the Hogs responded, this time with two true-freshman. Collins rushed for 19 yards followed by two receptions from Hunter Henry of 21 and 26 yards.
The next play Collins ran in for a 9-yard score and the Hogs were hanging in the game, down 31-27. Collins finished the game with 14 carries for 116 yards and a score.
The Hog’s defense forced a punt on the next drive, but couldn’t capitalize and went three-and-out.
The Aggies turned to their run game and drove on a 9-play touchdown drive, all of which were runs, to put their lead back at 11.
Yet again, the Razorbacks responded on the following possession thanks to a couple of passes by Allen and a pass interference call. Allen passed out to Williams in the flats who went into straight beast mode, bouncing off multiple Aggie defenders and found his way into the end zone for the score.
The Hogs failed on the two point conversion, but were still only down 38-33 heading into the fourth.
Both teams punted away to one another on their opening fourth quarter drives, but Arkansas had no answer for A&M’s rushing attack.
The Aggies rushed seven plays in a row for 57 yards and scored a touchdown putting them back up 45-33 with 10 minutes to go in the fourth.
The next drive was one that Arkansas had to score on, but ultimately failed to.
The Hogs drove all the way down to the Aggie 16, but had four consecutive passes fall incomplete and turned the ball over on downs.
Manziel and the A&M offense gave the ball back to Arkansas on their own 12 after a punt and the Hogs had one last chance to score with 2:55 remaining.
The first pass Allen threw was deep and over the middle, but picked off by Steven Jenkins at the Arkansas 45.
A&M then ran out the clock on the Hogs and escaped out with a 45-33 victory.
Arkansas kept this game closer than most thought they would, but just could not capitalize on key possessions. They played outstanding game and gave the Aggies everything that they had.
Johnny Manziel still put up big numbers going 23-of-30 for 261 and rushed for 59 yards, but for the most part it was the running game from A&M that killed the Hogs.
A&M rushed for 262 yards and late in the game, the Razorbacks just couldn’t stop them.
Turnovers were another thing that hurt the Hogs. Although the wet conditions causes no fumbles by either team, the pick-six given up by Allen at the start of the second half proved to be a huge play and A&M had zero turnovers for the game.
You cannot be anything but proud for the way that Arkansas showed up for the game however. The Hogs very well could have come out still upset from the Rutgers game last weekend and had their heads down.
Instead, Arkansas responded to A&M on countless occasions during the game. Many times it felt as though the Aggies were about to take the lead and run with it, but the Razorbacks kept fighting and kept it close.
The Aggies were just too talented for the Hogs in a few positions and they took full advantage of those to squeeze out the victory by racking up 523 yards of total offense and getting key stops on defense.
The Rutgers game put expectations down for the rest of the season, but this game more than likely changed everything about those. If Arkansas plays the way that they did on Saturday, there is no doubt that they are going to sneak up and beat somebody that they aren’t supposed to and win at least a couple of more games.
The Hogs have plenty of chances to do just that and next game is going to be a big one. The Razorbacks travel to Florida and take on the Gators that will be a night game in The Swamp.