Hogs gashed by Aggies in 42-31 loss
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After a seemingly remarkable turnaround the first four weeks of the season, Arkansas’ defense was gashed at will Saturday night.
When it was all over, No. 8 Texas A&M had piled up 442 yards in a 42-31 win over the Razorbacks, extending its winning streak in the series to nine games.
Kellen Mond was incredibly efficient, completing 21 of 26 passes for 260 yards and three touchdowns - including a pair to tight end Jalen Wydermyer, who had 92 yards on six receptions.
Despite coming into the game with an NCAA-leading 10 interceptions, Arkansas failed to create a single turnover. Mond had thrown at least one in each of his last three games against the Razorbacks.
Early on, Arkansas appeared to carry its hot start from before the open week into College Station.
The defense forced a punt after just four plays and then the Razorbacks picked up a first down on its opening drive for the first time this season.
They didn’t stop after just one either. Feleipe Franks had a 28-yard run and completed all four of his passes on the possession, capped by a 6-yard touchdown to Treylon Burks. That gave Arkansas a 7-0 lead about midway through the first quarter.
It didn’t take long for Texas A&M to swing the game back in its favor, though.
The Aggies tied the game with an eight-play, 75-yard drive on the ensuing possession, with Mond finding Ainias Smith for a 35-yard touchdown pass to make it 7-7.
Aside from taking a knee to end the first half, Texas A&M ended up scoring touchdowns on six straight drives. It did so with a balanced attack that gained 260 yards through the air and 182 on the ground, plus scored three times each way.
On the first play after Arkansas safety Jalen Catalon was disqualified for targeting, Smith ran for a 15-yard touchdown that gave the Aggies a 14-7 lead they wouldn’t relinquish. He was originally ruled down at the 1-yard line, but replay showed he got into the end zone.
That play capped a drive that started with A.J. Reed badly missing a 48-yard field goal attempt for the Razorbacks, whose offense found its groove again.
After Wydermyer’s first touchdown catch, Arkansas kept moving the ball and this time didn’t leave it up to Reed to get points. Franks went deep to Burks on fourth-and-2 near midfield and it picked up 36 yards.
Going up tempo, Franks then hit tight end Blake Kern at the 1-yard line before a quick snap and pass to Tyson Morris for a touchdown. That pulled Arkansas within 21-14, but left plenty of time on the clock for the Aggies.
They needed just seven plays to cover 74 yards and push their lead back to 14 points on a 6-yard touchdown run by Isaiah Spiller, who finished with 82 yards on 21 carries.
Back-to-back pass interference penalties gave the Razorbacks an excellent opportunity to answer before halftime, but Franks was sacked on a key third down play and then Reed hooked a 49-yard field goal.
Arkansas got the ball to start the second half and put together a nice drive that was once again aided by a couple of Texas A&M penalties. However, it stalled out in the red zone and the Razorbacks had to settle for a 34-yard field goal, which Reed made.
That proved to be the last gasp by Arkansas, as the Aggies put together another couple of long touchdown drives sandwiched around a quick possession by the Razorbacks. Wydermyer caught a 15-yard touchdown pass on the first and then Devon Achane scored on a 30-yard run to make it 42-17.
A 16-yard touchdown catch by Burks - who finished with 117 yards on seven receptions - pulled the Razorbacks within 42-24 early in the fourth quarter.
The defense finally forced a punt on the Aggies’ next drive, but Franks took a sack to set up a third-and-long that Arkansas couldn’t convert, forcing it to punt the ball right back.
Rakeem Boyd tacked on a 14-yard touchdown in the final minute to make the final margin. That was a positive note for the Razorbacks, as they managed to establish a run game for the first time this season. Led by Boyd’s 100-yard performance, the Razorbacks gained a season-high 222 rushing yards.
Arkansas returns to Fayetteville next week for a home game against Tennessee. Kickoff of that game is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. and it’ll be televised on either ESPN or the SEC Network.