All eyes were on Arlington as Arkansas, and Texas A&M would battle for the 2022 Southwest Classic trophy. The 63,580 fans who packed AT&T Stadium would get another classic game between these rivals, with Texas A&M edging out Arkansas 23-21. In this season’s contest, we will look at three missed opportunities that cost the Razorbacks. What three missed opportunities cost the Razorbacks winning in Arlington?
Three Missed Opportunities
1. Fumble Away Scores
Arkansas would start the game red hot, jumping to a 14-0 lead. This lead would be led by quarterback KJ Jefferson, who would pass for 99 yards and two touchdowns in the first qtr. Up 14-7, the game would be flipped in the second quarter. Arkansas went in for what would have been their third score of the first half. Jefferson would reach out to score from around the five-yard line and fumble, attempting a superman dive at the goal line.
In this play, madness would ensue. Aggie corner Tyreek Chappell would pick up the loose ball, and as he was tackled by Hogs running back, Raheim Sanders, he got the ball to teammate Demani Richardson. Richardson would take it 82 yards for an Aggie touchdown. Richardson said he was yelling for the ball. “I was yelling, ‘Give me the ball! ‘Give me the ball!’ and if he didn’t, I was going to take it anyways,” he said in the postgame press conference. The fumble was just one of the missed opportunities that cost the Razorbacks. The game’s momentum swung drastically in just one massive play.
Arkansas coach Sam Pittman called the play a game changer. “It was a huge play in the game. Unfortunately, it happened to us,” he said after the game. This missed opportunity cost Arkansas on Saturday night and will be one they will need to have fixed this week.
2. 3rd Quarter Blunders
Taking a 14-13 lead into the locker room for halftime, the Razorbacks hoped to continue their offensive success into the second half. Unfortunately, this would not be the case in the third quarter. The Hogs’ offense would sometimes look abysmal, garnering only 21 yards on eight total plays during this stretch. Of those plays, they would pass for 9 yards, five runs for twelve yards, and an average of 2.4 yards per rush. In fact, in this quarter, the Hogs would only average 2.6 yards per play, go 0/3 on third down, have a time of possession of only 3:20, and score zero points.
To compound this, their defense would allow the Aggies to score ten points and allow 154 yards against them. Aggie quarterback, Max Johnson, would pass for 84 yards. Their running game would gain 70 yards on only 14 rushes. A&M would control the time of possession by eating up 11:40 on the clock and head to the fourth quarter with a 23-14 lead. The Razorbacks in the third quarter missed a massive opportunity to secure this win with just some offensive production but squandered it away. Arkansas offensive woes, combined with the defense not being able to get off the field, proved to be a deciding factor in the loss. This entire quarter was a missed opportunity that Arkansas wishes they had back.
3. Little Misses From 43
Razorback kicker Cam Little came into this game perfect on the young season on field goals. In past seasons the Arkansas faithful have relied on Little to win games. Saturday night in Arlington was another chance. With 1:35 in the game, with the Hogs trailing by two, Little would line up for a 43-yard field goal.
Unfortunately for Little, the kick would bounce off the top of the right upright and bounce into the endzone. The stadium of Razorback fans would go silent as they watched their star kicker miss this massive kick. Was this a missed opportunity? Yes, but the loss should not be blamed solely on Little. Pittman had this to say in postgame; “I told him he’s won a lot of games for us, and he’ll win a lot more…He didn’t mean to miss it. It just didn’t go through. We had a lot more opportunities than just that.”
Fans will say this missed opportunity cost Arkansas the most in the loss. In any game, it never comes down to one singular play. In Arlington, the Razorbacks and Aggies would battle in yet another classic between two rivals. With the loss, Arkansas falls to 3-1 on the season and 1-1 in conference play. Arkansas will host Alabama next week in Fayetteville in another SEC battle.