It’s a scary thought for many in the state. Are the Aggies for real?
There’s little reason to think they’re not. After all, they’ve taken down two teams ranked in the top 17 and made it look easy. Much of the reason, however, is because of the Texas A&M defense.
And there’s no better example than the defensive stops they made at the goal line in the Aggies’ (4-0, 2-0) 45-24 win over Arkansas on Sept. 24.
The Razorbacks (3-1, 0-1) reached the Aggies’ red zone several times, but a fumble and a fourth-down stop that eventually led to a 92-yard touchdown pass to Josh Reynolds from Trevor Knight was the difference in the contest.
Aggies coach Kevin Sumlin said he was pleased with the way his players competed.
“I was proud of our guys,” he said. “They hung in there, and it really showed the maturity of our team.”
The two teams played to a 17-17 team that was aided by some Arkansas miscues. The first was when the Aggies stripped Rawleigh Williams III on the Texas A&M one.
“Anytime your defense can get you turnovers, it shortens the field and changes the momentum of the game,” Knight said.
That led to a 48-yard field goal by Daniel LaCamera.
And though the Razorbacks scored on the ensuing drive, Knight ran for a 48-yard touchdown to with 13 seconds remaining in the half for the tie.
But before Reynolds could give the Aggies the lead for good, the Texas A&M defense had to come up with a turnover on downs inside their own one. And that happened when Keon Hatcher was tackled for a five-yard loss by Armanti Watts on fourth down.
“On the end around, we practice that,” Watts said. “We knew that were going to come with something tricky. Our key was to tackle on the field.”
To come up empty on that drive was especially painful because the Razorbacks had put together a 19-play drive that ate up eight minutes of the third quarter.
Knight called the two defensive stands “big time” to the outcome of the game.
Two plays later Reynolds was celebrating the touchdown, and Arkansas never threatened again.
Another Razorbacks fumble led to another Knight touchdown, this time a pass to Christian Kirk from nine yards.
While Knight was spectacular throwing the ball for 225 yards and two touchdowns, it was his legs that were the difference. He led all rushers with 157 yards and two touchdowns on 10 carries. He had runs of 42 yards in the first half and a 62-yard burst on third down late in the game.
Knight said the Aggies emphasized better execution to start the second half, adding they weren’t surprised by the Arkansas defensive looks.
“Really excited about the way our guys played down the stretch,” Knight said. “Really excited about the way we just kept pressing on forth. We get hit in the mouth first, we don’t let that get us down. We continue to come and be our own identity.”