Matt Jones is the online sports editor for the Arkansas-Democrat-Gazette and Northwest Arkansas Newspapers.
Aggies' offense too much for Arkansas
Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) tosses the ball during the first quarter of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas in Fayetteville, Ark., Saturday, Sept. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Danny Johnston)
FAYETTEVILLE Arkansas held Johnny Manziel in-check for the final two quarters Saturday night, but the Razorbacks couldn't account for Texas A&M's run game in a 45-33 loss to the No. 10 Aggies at rain-soaked Razorback Stadium.
exas A&M rushed for 150 yards in the second half, holding off a strong effort from the upset-minded home team. The Aggies had a pair of touchdown drives totaling nine and seven plays after halftime in which Manziel never attempted a pass.
Arkansas pulled within 38-33 on a 19-yard touchdown pass from Brandon Allen to Jonathan Williams late in the third quarter, but the Razorbacks could get no closer. Ben Malena's 1-yard touchdown run with 10:08 remaining capped the scoring.
Texas A&M (4-1, 1-1 Southeastern Conference) led by as many as 17 points in the first half, but Arkansas pulled within 24-20 by the intermission when Zach Hocker connected on a 39-yard field goal as time expired in the second quarter.
Arkansas had several chances to take the lead in the second half, but could never break through. After the Razorbacks got the ball first after halftime, Deshazor Everett returned an Allen interception 34 yards on the possession to extend the Aggies' lead to 31-20.
Arkansas responded with a 4-play drive capped by a 9-yard Alex Collins touchdown run to pull closer, but the Aggies had an answer. Texas A&M's 9-play, 68-yard drive didn't include a pass and Trey Williams finished it with a 17-yard touchdown to extend the lead to 38-27.
Manziel, the reigning Heisman Trophy winner, was as advertised early in the game, leading Texas A&M on scoring drives in each of its first four possessions. Manziel hit Mike Evans for 49 yards on the first play from scrimmage and gave the Aggies the lead with a 9-yard touchdown pass to Evans later in the possession.
Manziel, who finished the game with 320 yards of total offense, passed for two touchdowns. He had accounted for 557 yards of offense in a 58-10 win over the Razorbacks last season.
Arkansas tied the game on a 12-yard touchdown pass from Allen to Keon Hatcher, but Manziel had the Aggies in the end zone again a little more than two minutes later when Malena scored on a 2-yard run.
The teams combined for 1,006 yards of total offense, reminiscent of their days as members in the high-scoring Southwest Conference. Arkansas won three consecutive matchups after the teams resumed their series as a nonconference game in Cowboys Stadium in 2009, but Texas A&M is 2-0 in games between the teams as SEC foes.
The Aggies improved to 15-3 overall since the move to the league prior to last season, including a perfect 5-0 record in SEC road games.
In his first game back from a shoulder injury suffered two weeks ago, Allen was effective for the Razorbacks, completing 17 of 36 passes for 282 yards and 3 touchdowns, but he was intercepted twice, including with 2:45 remaining in the game.
Williams was the recipient of two of Allen's touchdown passes, each totaling 19 yards. Williams also rushed for 53 yards.
Freshman tight end Hunter Henry had 4 catches for 109 yards, including back-to-back catches of 21 and 26 yards to set up a third quarter touchdown.
Collins had his fourth 100-yard rushing performance in his fifth career game, finishing with 116 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
Arkansas (3-2, 0-1 SEC) has lost two consecutive games with three straight matchups against top 20 teams coming up in the month of October. The Razorbacks will travel to No. 20 Florida next weekend.