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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Just like last year: A&M tops Arkansas in overtime 28-21

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Photo by Valerie Gunchick

Christian Kirk catches the winning touchdown in overtime. 

Déjà vu; it’s real.
For the second year in row, A&M trailed Arkansas entering the fourth quarter. Finishing in overtime, the only aspect that differed was the final score, which was A&M over Arkansas 28-21 in AT&T Stadium Saturday night.
“This is the kind of thing that you don’t want to go through as a coach,” Aggie head coach Kevin Sumlin said. “But when you come out on the winning side of it, you’re glad it happened. There are some real lessons that can be learned from tonight.”
The No. 14 Aggies (4-0, 1-0 SEC) faced a 21-13 deficit on defense with less than five minutes left. Threatening in A&M territory, Arkansas failed to convert a 3rd and 9 at the 41-yard line.
A punt placed A&M at its own 15 with 4:11 remaining. On the third play of the drive, Aggie quarterback Kyle Allen connected with junior Josh Reynolds on a 63-yard bomb to the Arkansas seven-yard line. A Tra Carson two-yard touchdown a couple plays later paired with a Reynolds two-point conversion forced a 21-21 tie.
“I knew that I was confident going on the field and confident that we could go out there and make plays and get the game back in our hands,” Kyle Allen said. “But there was no rah-rah speech or giving pumps. We were focused the whole game.”
The Razorbacks (1-3, 0-1 SEC) gave the Aggies another chance before time expired. On the ensuing drive, Myles Garrett dropped quarterback Brandon Allen for a nine-yard loss, and in doing so also popped the ball out. A&M recovered, setting Taylor Bertolet up for a game-winning field goal. But, as time expired, the senior shanked it wide right.
Last season, A&M came back from a 28-14 deficit and won with a 25-yard touchdown to Malcome Kennedy on the first play of overtime. This time around, it was Christian Kirk with the score, but from the 20 yards out and on the second play.
Kirk garnered the Aggies first touchdown of the night on a 44-yard score to tie things at 7-7. By the conclusion, the freshman caught eight passes for two touchdowns and 173 yards. Sumlin said he had to sharply increase Kirk’s duties because sophomore receiver Speedy Noil was injured, and that Kirk’s previous performances earned his trust.
“He’s a big play guy and he got a little tired tonight,” Sumlin said. “We handed it to him, we threw it to him and he returned it so we probably did a little bit too much … He’s certainly a dynamic player and we are finding ways to get him involved.”
Forced to score six following the touchdown, Arkansas went for it on 4th and 4 on the following possession. Senior cornerback De’Vante Harris clinched the victory by batting down a pass intended for receiver Drew Morgan.
Inefficient offense placed the Aggies in their original hole. A&M had two drives threaten Arkansas inside its 10 that resulted in field goals.
The first one came after consecutive receptions from freshman receiver Christian Kirk, who took the pair for 86 yards. The 80-yard drive was the longest ending in a field goal by an FBS team in AT&T stadium, but launched the Aggies ahead 10-7.
A&M cushioned its advantage to open the second half with another kick by Bertolet. But, Arkansas answered with a seven-play, 77-yard drive capped by a four-yard rushing touchdown from running back Alex Collins. That was his lone touchdown on the night, but Collins carried the pigskin 26 times for 151 yards.
“The fact that we didn’t finish off drives with touchdowns instead of field goals came back to haunt us at the end,” Sumlin said.
Offense continued to sputter for the Aggies, as a three-and-out handed it back to the Hogs. In turn, they expanded their lead to 21-13 with 14:12 remaining in the game. Rawleigh Williams ran it in this time for Arkansas to end an 8-play, 80-yard drive.
Tra Carson had his quietest performance of the season with 31 yards on eight touches. Kyle Allen, however, passed 21-for-28 for two touchdowns and a career-high 358 yards.
The win marked A&M’s fourth straight in the Southwest Classic, making it 4-3 since the rivalry was revamped. Heading home in dramatic fashion, A&M will shift its focus on Mississippi State, who comes to College Station next Saturday. 

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