ARLINGTON, Texas -- For the second straight season, Arkansas and Texas A&M went to overtime in the Southwest Classic at AT&T Stadium, and for the second straight season, the Aggies' came from behind to secure an overtime win.
After scoring on its overtime possession, Texas A&M held the Razorbacks on the ensuing chance. Texas A&M senior cornerback De'Vante Harris swatted away a Brandon Allen pass intended for receiver Drew Morgan on fourth-and-4 to secure a 28-21 win and send the No. 14 Aggies to 4-0.
It was a thriller that had many similarities to these teams' battle a season ago, when Texas A&M came back from a two-touchdown deficit to send the game to overtime, then got a stop on fourth-and-1 to escape with a 35-28 win. This year, it was only an eight-point deficit (Arkansas led 21-13 late in the fourth quarter), but it was a crucial victory for the Aggies to start SEC play, nonetheless. Let's look at the highlights:
What the win means for Texas A&M: The Aggies continue the positive momentum they have generated so far this season, which began with their season-opening win over Arizona State. This wasn't a pretty victory, as the Aggies' defense was truly tested (and, at times, dominated by Arkansas' offensive line) for the first time this season, and they picked up some bumps and bruises along the way, but it's a critical win for a team trying to earn respect in the SEC West. The Aggies have a monstrous stretch coming up, with meetings against Mississippi State, Alabama and Ole Miss the next four weeks. If they want to be in the conversation at the top of the SEC West, Texas A&M had to win on Saturday, and they did, despite looking bleak at various points.
What the loss means for Arkansas: It's a gut-punching defeat for a Razorback team that desperately needed a win to turn the tables after recent misfortunes. Instead, Arkansas (1-3) is mired in a three-game losing streak, and things don't get any easier with a trip to Tennessee next week followed by another road trip to Alabama. The Hogs played much better Saturday than they did in previous weeks against Toledo and Texas Tech, and they had a chance to win late. They held an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter, then got the ball back for a potential game-winning drive with fewer than three minutes remaining. But they couldn't take care of the ball, and it cost them. The team some thought could be a dark horse to make a run at the SEC West is simply looking for a win and having a hard time finding one.
How the game was won: The Aggies missed a golden opportunity to win in regulation. With Arkansas driving and the game tied at 21, defensive end Myles Garrett sacked Allen and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Aggie linebacker A.J. Hilliard at the Arkansas 41. After a roughing the passer penalty against Arkansas' Jeremiah Ledbetter and a couple A&M runs to center the ball, Taylor Bertolet had a chance to win the game with a 38-yard field goal attempt, but he missed wide right as time expired.
In overtime, Texas A&M quarterback Kyle Allen (21-of-28, 358 passing yards) hit receiver Christian Kirk with a 20-yard touchdown strike for the lead. Then the Aggies held Arkansas on its first and only series in overtime as Harris made the play of the game to end it. Arkansas had momentum for most of the second half, but the Aggies tied the game at 21 with 2:50 remaining on a clutch scoring drive engineered by Allen, who hit Josh Reynolds for a 63-yard pass to set up a 2-yard Tra Carson touchdown run and two-point conversion pass from Allen to Reynolds.
Player of the game: Kirk. He was difficult for the Razorbacks to corral all night, as he caught eight passes for 173 yards and two touchdowns, including the game-winning touchdown in overtime. It's the third time Kirk, a true freshman, has recorded at least 100 receiving yards.