No. 23 Texas A&M’s 23-21 win over No. 10 Arkansas hung in the balance on Saturday night as Razorbacks kicker Cam Little’s 42-yard field goal attempt made its way toward the uprights with 1:30 remaining. Then, in a cruel twist of fate for the sophomore, the football ricocheted off the top of the right goal post, shot up into the air and then dropped into the end zone as a missed attempt.
From there, the Aggies ran out the clock for a victory in their SEC opener. It was one of two gut-wrenching plays that cost the Razorbacks dearly in an SEC West showdown that came down to the wire. While the Arkansas outgained Texas A&M in total yardage 415-343, it scored just once on its final eight possessions after taking an early 14-0 lead. Meanwhile, Texas A&M generated just enough offense with Devon Achane rushing for 159 yards on 19 carries to muster its second consecutive win since a shocking home loss to Appalachian State in Week 2.
If not for another bizarre play late in the first half, Little’s late field goal attempt may not have been needed. On the cusp of taking a two-possession lead with 3:31 left in the second quarter, disaster struck and flipped the momentum in favor of the Aggies. Facing a first-and-goal from the 3-yard line, Quarterback K.J. Jefferson tried to leap over a pile of defenders when the football came free and landed in the hands of Texas A&M’s Tyreek Chappell, who ran it about 15 yards.
Then, just as it appeared that his forward progressed had stopped and that the play might be blown dead, Chappell handed the football to Demani Richardson, who toted it 83 more yards for a stunning touchdown. Though the Aggies botched the extra-point attempt, the wild turnover and score likely constituted a 13-point swing in a single play.
Combined, the bizarre missed field goal and 98-yard fumble return made the difference for Texas A&M, which hosts No. 2 Alabama next week in a much-anticipated game that will have major division-title ramifications.