Ainias puts the Texas A&M football team on his back
The domination by Texas A&M football in the second half was obvious. The defense was absolutely suffocating the Razorbacks, and had yet to allow the Hogs to get even one first down—but not long into the fourth quarter, things still felt way tighter than they should have. Both teams had scored on defense; the Hogs did so on the first play of the half, and Jefferson repaid the favor on a tipped pass grabbed out of midair by Chris Russell. Even so, several unfortunate breaks had made it an uneasy 11-point margin after Randy Bond missed his second field goal of the day. Arkansas took over with a chance to grab some momentum.
What happened, though, was far different than what the Hogs had hoped. Each of their next three plays went for negative yards, culminating with two back-to-back sacks of Jefferson. All of a sudden, the Hogs faced 4th and 25, backed up to their own goal line. Max Fletcher, the experienced punter for the Razorbacks, was unflappable; he deftly caught the punt and delivered a beauty to Ainias Smith.
Smith, after backing up deep into Aggie territory, initially fumbled the punt. It hit the ground and he caught it off of one bounce, turning upfield to assess the return situation. Fletcher had slightly outkicked his coverage, it seemed; though he had driven Smith far back and Ainias hadn’t cleanly fielded it, the gunners still hadn’t gotten far enough downfield. This gave Ainias a window, and that window was all he needed. He avoided the first would-be tackler, and, thanks to some good blocking from the Aggie special teams unit, was able to pick his way through the rest of the coverage, weaving back and forth until there was nothing but green grass in front of him. The rest is history; the victory was sealed despite a late long pass by the Hogs to get things back within 12 points, and the Aggies would walk out of AT&T Stadium a winner for the 11th time in 12 matchups against the Razorbacks.