HOG CALLS:

Aggies' Kirk a star against Razorbacks

By: Nate Olson
Published: Monday, September 25, 2017
Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk (3) celebrates catching a touchdown pass in overtime of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
Photo by Associated Press
Texas A&M wide receiver Christian Kirk (3) celebrates catching a touchdown pass in overtime of an NCAA college football game against Arkansas on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2017, in Arlington, Texas. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

FAYETTEVILLE -- Not even TV's Captain Kirk starred four years on Star Trek like Texas A&M's Christian Kirk starred in three episodes against Arkansas.

Bret Bielema, the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville coach whose Razorbacks' future becomes fodder for the various coaches' hot seat websites proliferating the Internet like crabgrass on suburban lawns, first can hope he's back at Arkansas next year. Second, Bielema can hope Kirk isn't an Aggie next year.

The Razorbacks and Texas A&M Aggies next meet Sept. 29, 2018, in their annual SEC game at the Dallas Cowboys' AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Nearly all Arkansans might be willing to donate to an NFL team making a 2018 draft offer that the current Aggies junior couldn't refuse.

Better part with that money this postseason than see the Razorbacks pay the price of Kirk beating them again.

The Aggies, among Arkansas' former Southwest Conference rivals, left the Big 12 in 2012 to join Arkansas in the SEC and play their annual SEC West game.

Coach Kevin Sumlin's Aggies have won them all.

Kirk starred in the last three, especially 2015 and again last Saturday as A&M prevailed, 50-43 in overtime at Arlington.

In 2015 the Aggies won, 28-21 in overtime. Wide receiver/punt returner/kick returner Kirk caught the 20-yard game-winning TD pass plus a 44-yard touchdown for A&M's first score of the game among his eight catches for 173 yards. He also returned a kickoff 40 yards.

The Aggies didn't require that much from Kirk to win, 45-21 in 2016. Still, Kirk contributed a touchdown catch.

Last Saturday the Aggies required Kirk doing it all: Receiving, kick-returning and just threatening returning, to beat Arkansas again.

Among Kirk's five catches for 110 yards was his 81-yarder for A&M's 7-7 game-tying touchdown and the overtime 10-yard touchdown ultimately winning the game. Kirk's fourth-quarter special plays on special teams made overtime possible. His 100-yard kickoff return touchdown with 5:10 left in regulation proved huge. First, it put A&M up 40-36.

Kirk didn't touch the ball beating Arkansas on special teams a second time.

When Arkansas went up 43-40 on running back David Williams' touchdown with 3:39 left, the Razorbacks were so kickoff conscious not kicking deep to Kirk that they tried a short, sky kick, which they didn't cover well.

Cullen Gillaspia, the Aggies' 12th man, a walk-on awarded A&M's 12th-man scholarship for his work on special teams, returned it 14 yards to the Arkansas 49. It launched last-drive field position critical for A&M achieving overtime on Daniel LaCamera's 27-yard field goal with just four regulation seconds to spare.

The Aggies' dual threat offensive/special teams star achieving results much like offensive/special teams stars Joe Adams and Felix Jones achieved in Arkansas' recent past, Kirk shined the difference between teams obviously otherwise evenly matched.

Sports on 09/25/2017

Discussion

Have a comment on this story? Join the discussion or start a new one on the Forums.