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Photo by Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Texas A&M Football

Post Game Review: No. 23 Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 27

September 28, 2019

The No. 23 Aggies escaped AT&T Stadium with a win on Saturday afternoon, 31-27, after being given all that they could handle by Arkansas in a game that came down to the final minute. With 31 seconds left, Ben Hicks threw an incomplete pass as he was being brought down to end a fruitless 56-yard drive on A&M’s 25-yard line. 

The Aggies, who were heavily favored, struggled to move the chains at the beginning of the game but were the first team to score via a 9-yard pass to Ainias Smith from Kellen Mond with 2:56 remaining in the first quarter.

The Razorbacks scored on their next drive as kicker Connor Limpert converted a 46-yard field goal to cap a 47-yard drive. The Aggies responded with a 75-yard drive that ended with a four-yard touchdown run from a diving Isaiah Spiller who reached the ball into the end zone to put the Aggies up 14-3. 

The Razorbacks then scored 14 unanswered points via a scoop-and-score after an A&M fumble and a 41-yard drive that ended in a 13-yard touchdown pass. Kellen Mond connected with Quartney Davis on a crossing route who then took it 15 yards after the catch and into the end zone with eight seconds left in the first half. The Aggies held a 21-17 lead at halftime. 

After halftime, Ben Hicks, who replaced an injured Nick Starkel in the second quarter, marched the Razorbacks down the field, and Devwah Whaley finished the drive with an 11-yard touchdown run. The two teams traded punts until the Aggies supplemented their lead with 12:21 remaining in the game after Kellen Mond lobbed a pass up for Quartney Davis in the middle of the field to regain the A&M lead, 28-24. Limpert converted his second field goal of the afternoon with 8:46 remaining to come within a single point of the Aggies. 

Seth Small nailed a field goal from 50 yards with just over three minutes remaining and the Aggies were able to stave off a furious last Arkansas drive to clinch the Southwest Classic win.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Ainias Smith continues to impress for the Aggies, reeling in five catches for 80 yards in Texas A&M’s win over Arkansas.

RUMBLED: In a game where few Aggies “rumbled,” the performance of Ainias Smith was a silver lining. The freshman had another impressive day, this time in an increased role, seeing more targets and lining up in some different looks. The speedy receiver caught each of the five passes thrown his way for 80 yards and a touchdown. Smith, dangerous in space and creating yards-after catch, is one of the few threats on an otherwise stagnant A&M offense through five weeks. The pass-catcher should continue to see his workload increased in the weeks to come. Seth Small also had a strong performance, nailling a game-clinching 50-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. 

STUMBLED: Coming off of a poor performance against Auburn, the A&M defensive struggled mightily to stop the Arkansas running game, especially on the edge. Former A&M running back Rakeem Boyd finished the afternoon with 18 carries for 89 yards. However, the more glaring criticism may be the lack of pressure they were able to get on Arkansas quarterbacks Nick Starkel and Ben Hicks. The Aggie defensive line struggled to collapse the pocket against a poor Arkansas offensive line and both quarterbacks had ample time. Justin Madubuike had a strong outing, however, collectively, the unit - which was expected to be a strength coming into the season - underperformed against the Razorbacks.

UNSUNG HERO: Keldrick Carper quietly had a solid outing on an otherwise rough night for the Aggie secondary. The junior defensive back was strong in coverage and in pursuit. He finished the outing with 10 tackles, seven of which were solo. Quartney Davis also put together a strong performance in a multitude of capacities, including some looks in the running game via motions in the backfield. Davis had one of his more productive nights in an Aggie uniform, finishing the game with 81 total yards and two touchdowns. 

KEY STAT: Turnovers – Texas A&M 2, Arkansas 1. You can usually tell a lot about the outcome of a game based on the turnover margin. Though the Aggies lost the turnover battle by one, perhaps the bigger negative was the timing of both of them. The first came in the second quarter at the A&M 12-yard line as Mond and Spiller failed to complete a handoff leading to a Razorback scoop-and-score. The second turnover was a Mond interception that ended a long drive into Arkansas territory. Both turnovers were complete momentum shifters in the game. Defensively, the Aggies forced just a single turnover against an Arkansas team that coughed up five turnovers against San Jose State.

Scoring summary

First quarter:

A&M: 2:56 - Ainias Smith 9 yd PASS from Kellen Mond; PAT KICK by Seth Small (GOOD). 7 plays, 63 yards. TOP: 3:51. Texas A&M 7, Arkansas 0.

Second quarter: 

ARK: 14:15 - Connor Limpert 46 yd Field Goal. Drive: 10 plays, 47 yards. TOP: 3:41. Texas A&M 7, Arkansas 3. 

A&M: 9:48 - Isaiah Spiller 4 yd RUSH; PAT KICK by Seth Small (GOOD). Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards. TOP: 4:27. Texas A&M 14, Arkansas 3. 

ARK: 5:30 - DeJon Harris 6 yd FUMB; PAT KICK by Connor Limpert (GOOD). Texas A&M 14, Arkansas 10. 

ARK: 1:55 - Mike Woods 13 yd Pass from Ben Hicks; PAT KICK by Connor Limpert (GOOD). Arkansas 17, Texas A&M 10. 

A&M: 0:08 - Quartney Davis 22 yd PASS from Kellen Mond PAT KICK by Seth Small (GOOD) Drive: 11 plays, 75 yards. TOP: 1:47. Texas A&M 21, Arkansas 17. 

Third quarter: 

ARK: 10:34 - Devwah Whaley 11 yd RUSH; PAT KICK by Connor Limpert (GOOD). Drive: 8 plays, 84 yards. TOP: 2:37. Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 21. 

Fourth quarter: 

A&M: 12:21 -  Quartney Davis 3 yd PASS from Kellen Mond; PAT KICK by Seth Small (GOOD). Drive: 7 plays, 34 yards. TOP: 4:30.  Texas A&M 28, Arkansas 24. 

ARK: 8:46 - Connor Limpert 40-yard FG. Drive: 11 plays, 53 yards. TOP: 3:35. Texas A&M 28, Arkansas 27. 

A&M: 3:52 - Seth Small 50 yard FG. Drive: 11 plays, 43 yards. TOP: 4:54. Texas A&M 31, Arkansas 27.

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