Texas A&M Football vs. Arkansas: Game Recap

Sep 30, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher (left) talks with Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman (right) before the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 30, 2023; Arlington, Texas, USA; Texas A&M Aggies head coach Jimbo Fisher (left) talks with Arkansas Razorbacks head coach Sam Pittman (right) before the game between the Texas A&M Aggies and the Arkansas Razorbacks at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports /
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Second half of Texas A&M football vs. Arkansas

Though the Aggies started with the ball, disaster struck early, as a great read by an Arkansas defensive back resulted in a pick six on a screen pass. This was Johnson’s first pick in an A&M uniform, and the first turnover of the day for either team (the turnover on downs notwithstanding). Max Johnson and the Aggie offense’s response was workmanlike, however, methodically working their way downfield with chunk runs and throws. A drop by Jahdae Walker in the red zone led to a stop by the Razorbacks, and Randy Bond knocked a kick through to make the score 20-13. The Aggies again faced a situation where, thanks to a defensive touchdown by their opponent, they were in a much less comfortable situation than their statistical performance might suggest. Despite being more than doubled up in yardage—288 to 124–Arkansas was hanging around.

The Hog offense could not answer the bell on their first possession, however, notching yet another three-and-out. The impressive thing there was that Sanders picked up 9 yards on first down before the Aggies stopped the Razorbacks for no gain on second and third down.

Rueben Owens started off the next drive with his first touch of the day, gaining three yards on first down. A keeper by Johnson on second down ended in a forced fumble by Arkansas, giving them the ball back in plus territory. Arkansas was once again unable to move the ball on this Aggie defense, gaining only three yards and forcing a 50-yard field goal attempt that Cam Little converted to make the score 20-16.

Texas A&M football went three and out for the first time on the day with that ensuing drive after a bad spot on third down, punting the ball back to Arkansas. The Aggie defense once again stepped up, though, as Chris Russell caught a tipped pass from KJ Jefferson and returned it for a touchdown.

The Arkansas offense continued to simply spin its wheels, though, failing to convert a first down once again after a third-down sack by Edgerrin Cooper, moving the Aggie mark to 4 on the day for that statistic. Le’Veon Moss had a couple of huge, tough runs to begin the ensuing Aggie drive, but some pressure brought by Arkansas forced Johnson into unfavorable throws, and the Aggies punted from a little behind midfield. What was obviously a forced fumble on the ensuing punt return recovered by the Aggies was somehow called Arkans’a’s ball, giving them possession not far in front of their own goal line. Jefferson picked up the first conversion for the Hogs on the next play, running for about 10 yards when a downfield shot did not develop. The next three plays were less successful, however, culminating in another third down sack. That made five on the day for the Aggies.

Evan Stewart made a heroic play on the sideline, getting his foot down while taking a huge shot high up on his body. That picked up a big chunk on third down to keep the Aggie drive alive, though Stewart exited the game following the play. Amari Daniels dropped a swing pass in the flat that would have picked up a good bit of yardage, if not converted, and the Aggies failed to convert in the face of pressure on third and long. Bond’s attempt cut wide of the uprights, and the Aggies came away without points.

Arkansas took over at the thirty yard line, but pretty quickly moved backwards after a first down TFL by the defense for Texas A&M football. Second down saw the sixth sack by the Aggie defense on the day, pushing the Hogs back even further. Third down? You guessed it. Negative play forced. The Hogs’ drive ended up netting them -15 yards, and they punted just outside of their own end zone. A booming punt by Arkansas’s Max Fletcher sailed to Ainias Smith, who, after initially dropping the ball, picked it up, avoided a couple of tacklers, and took it to the house for his first punt return touchdown since the 95-yarder against South Carolina in 2021. That moved the score to 34-16.

The Aggie defense just would not relent—the Aggies moved to eight sacks after two straight against the Arkansas offense. The ensuing punt was taken for another huge return by Ainias Smith, setting the Aggies up past midfield. A few physical runs later, there was a scary scene where Arkansas DE John Morgan went down for an extended period. He was taken off the field by an ambulance, though he was responsive at the time. Prayers to him, and we hope for good news soon.

The ensuing play saw another Aggie turnover, as Max Johnson never fielded the snap cleanly and Arkansas fell on the muffed mesh point. The Hogs tested the downfield defense for the Aggies, finally connecting to Andrew Armstrong over top of Josh DeBerry’s outstretched arms down near the goal line and in for a touchdown. The ensuing two-point attempt was snuffed out by Albert Regis, moving the score to 34-22.

Texas A&M football recovered the onside kick, and Le’Veon Moss took over from there. He had a couple of huge runs, getting all the way down to the goal line, where it seemed to me that he got in without a doubt on second down, though the refs—somehow!—got the call wrong. A&M from one yard out with 4 second to go had a rush that once again got into the end zone, but the refs blew it dead before Moss crossed the goal line. A fitting, if odd, end to this one, and the Aggies move to 4-1.

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