Like It Is

OPINION | WALLY HALL: Aggies didn’t need help, but Hogs gave it

ARLINGTON, Texas — Texas A&M scored 13 points without Arkansas’ help and 21 with it.

The assists came on a pick-six, a punt return for a touchdown, and needing only 39 yards for a touchdown after Arkansas went for it on fourth-and-1 from its 40 and lost a yard.

Don’t know if Bobby Petrino or Jimbo Fisher called the cheap shot play to go for a touchdown on fourth-and-1 with 4 seconds to play, but it won’t be forgotten.

Yet, the man with the plan, the star of the game, the mastermind behind Texas A&M’s 34-22 win Saturday was defensive coordinator DJ Durkin, who dialed up a defense that gave the Razorbacks absolute fits.

It took a quarter for the Aggies to really settle down. But when they did, they could have changed the address of AT&T Stadium to No. 1 Aggie Sack Avenue.

Arkansas had 107 yards of offense after the first quarter. KJ Jefferson threw for 84 yards on 6-of-9 passing, and the Hogs trailed by only 7-3.

Then the lights almost went out on the Razorbacks’ offense, which got ultra-conservative with only one pass play in the second quarter. That played into the hands of the Aggies — who played like they were in the Hog huddles. They held Arkansas to 16 yards on a total of just 11 plays in the second quarter.

Arkansas had 25 yards in the third quarter, with 2 coming off a pass, and the Aggies led 27-16.

The Razorbacks would finish with 174 yards, including just 67 in the final three quarters — and 46 of those came on a pass from Jefferson to Andrew Armstrong with 3:53 to play.

Saying the Aggies dominated the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball would be like saying Florida beaches are sandy.

They sacked Jefferson seven times for 41 yards of losses and had a total 15 tackles for a loss.

On the other side, the A&M O-line gave Max Johnson so much time, he could have checked his phone before throwing passes. He's set to be the Aggies’ starting quarterback for the rest of the season after Conner Weigman was injured last week.

Johnson did have a pick-six on the first play of the second half when the Hogs’ Lorando Johnson stepped in front of the pass and returned it 20 yards for the score. That put some hog-calling life into the Razorback fans.

That pulled the Hogs to within 4, at 17-13, but not for long. The Aggies answered with a field goal.

Arkansas got its third field goal from Cam Little, a 50-yarder to go with his scoring kicks of 52 and 25 yards.

Then the bottom fell out once again, this time because of the pressure the Aggies put on Jefferson, who scrambled for his life far too many times.

On second and 5, Jefferson’s pass was tipped and Chris Russell Jr. intercepted it for an Aggies touchdown.

No doubt A&M had a cushion in the second half after the Razorbacks ended the first half by going for it on fourth and 1 from their own 40. The situation came after Max Fletcher punted to the Aggies’ 19. But A&M was called for offsides, and the Razorbacks took the penalty and gambled — and lost.

The Aggies drove the 39 yards for its second touchdown and a 17-6 lead. The Razorbacks came close in the second half, but the Aggies never lost the lead.

When the Aggies got the 82-yard punt return for a touchdown, it was their third gift from the Hogs.

Going in, most Razorback fans were worried about the offensive genius of Bobby Petrino. He took second-string quarterback Johnson, in his first start of the season, and helped him manage the game like an all-SEC quarterback.

Petrino’s offensive balance rivaled an Olympic gymnast.

Texas A&M had 414 total yards, 210 through the air and 204 running. Arkansas had zero sacks and four tackles for losses of a total of 6 yards.

A&M was the better team, but they were helped by the Hogs.

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