It was the second quarter Saturday and Texas A&M faced third-and-6 at the Arkansas 31 and faced a third and six, leading 24-17. Johnny Manziel began scrambling, but defensive end Chris Smith grabbed hold in the backfield and Deatrich Wise locked on as well, dropping Manziel for a 7-yard loss. Arkansas quarterback Brandon Allen was not sacked, increasing Arkansas’ sacks vs. sacks allowed to plus-12 for the season. The plus-11 going into the A&M game was tied for third in the nation. Arkansas recorded five sacks in the loss to Rutgers the previous week, which at the time was the most in a game by any Southeastern Conference team.
With a half-sack in the first half against Manziel and Texas A&M, Smith moved into a tie for fifth place in career sacks at Arkansas, with a total 19. He is tied with Marcus Adair, who played in 1993-95.
Freshmen Dan Skipper and Denver Kirkland, listed on the depth chart as backup offensive tackles, were in the starting lineup at guard for Arkansas on Saturday, replacing sophomore Mitch Smothers and junior Brey Cook. Skipper is a 6-foot-10, 317-pounder from Arvada, Colo.; Kirkland is 6-5, 345, from Miami, Fla. Wide receiver Keon Hatcher also was a first-time starter for the Razorbacks. A sophomore from Owasso, Okla., Hatcher started in place of Julian Horton.
Arkansas running back Jonathan Williams, who rushed for over 100 yards in each of Arkansas’ first three games, added more than 100 yards in total offense against Texas A&M, but only 53 by rushing. The sophomore from Allen, Texas, also caught four passes for 67 yards and two touchdowns.
Texas A&M broke a record on the opening drive against Arkansas. Manziel tossed a 49-yard pass to Mike Evans in a 75-yard TD drive that ended in a 9-yard TD pass from Manziel to Evans. The Razorbacks had not allowed a first drive score in either half going into the game against the Aggies. A week earlier, Rutgers took its opening drive into the Arkansas Red Zone before fumbling. The Aggies scored a defensive touchdown early in the second half on an interception return, but the Aggies’ offense was forced to punt the first time it had the ball in the second half.
Placekicker Zach Hocker of Russellville moved into second on Arkansas’ career field goal list with two three-pointers against the Aggies. He has made 55 field goals, breaking a tie with Steve Little, who kicked at Arkansas from 1974-77. He also moved into 13th place on the SEC career scoring list with nine points Saturday and a total of 324 points. That put him in front of John Becksvoort of Tennessee and Kevin Faulk of LSU. Becksvoort had 317 points from 1991-94 and Faulk scored 318 for the Tigers from 1995-98. Hocker also is tied for third on Arkansas field goals attempted. He has attempted 71, breaking a tie with Kendall Trainor (1985-88) and is tied with Todd Latourette (1995-98).
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema’s day didn’t start well when he and the Razorbacks arrived at Reynolds Razorback Stadium. Dressed in a suit and tie and sporting head phones during the Hog Walk through the crowd, Bielema took a tumble to his knees momentarily on the wet asphalt surface, but immediately popped up and thrust his hands in the air, as if to say, “I’m OK.”
Eight NFL scouts were listed on the press box seating chart Saturday for the Arkansas-Texas A&M game. One sported a New York Giants jacket; two had on team shirts with NFL logos, one for the Houston Texans and one for the San Francisco 49ers. Others were from the Arizona Cardinals, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and the Tennessee Titans.
Fireworks after Arkansas scored to get to 24-17 created a cloud that stayed around during much of Texas A&M’s ensuing possession. The low cloud cover kept the smoke from the fireworks nearer the ground than usual during the game. It also happened during the coin toss.
Texas A&M has recorded more than 400 yards of total offense for 17 straight games. The Aggies had 261 yards passing and 262 rushing against the Razorbacks to get to the 523 total. The Aggies had 581 yards a week earlier against SMU.
HUNTER HENRY: The freshman from Little Rock’s Pulaski Academy came up big for Arkansas against Texas A&M with four catches for 109 yards, including a 52-yard reception early in the second half to help set up a touchdown on Arkansas’ second possession of the half. Alex Collins’ 9-yard TD run made it 31-27 Aggies at that point.
BRANDON ALLEN: After two weeks of not throwing the football, the Arkansas sophomore quarterback returned in the Southeastern Conference opener against Texas A&M and threw for three touchdowns, drawing postgame praise from coach Bret Bielema. He was 10-for-18 for 168 yards by halftime. He finished the game 17-of-36 for 282 yards, although he threw two interceptions, including a pick-6 to start the second half. Allen injured his throwing shoulder on a touchdown run in the first quarter against Southern Miss and missed the Rutgers game. He was listed as doubtful for the A&M game until Bieliema tweeted Friday night that the Razorbacks would have some players back for A&M, including Allen. He began practicing Wednesday, Bielema said after the game.
ALEX COLLINS: For the fourth time in five games, the freshman from South Plantation High School in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ran for more than 100 yards. He recorded 116 and a touchdown against the Aggies. Collins showed his speed and cutting ability a couple of times. He stepped right and avoided tacklers for 38 yards to set up a Zach Hocker field goal as time expired in the first half, then outran all defenders for a 9-yard TD in the third quarter.
JOHNNY MANZIEL: The Heisman Trophy winner showed his uncanny talent again Saturday against the Razorbacks, passing for 261 yards and two touchdowns (23-for-30) while running for another 59 yards. Manziel, also known as Johnny Football, was sacked once by the Razorbacks in the first half, but often sat in the pocket for several seconds, then scrambled as necessary.