ARLINGTON, TEXAS — Texas A&M star Ainias Smith saw his stellar 2022 campaign come to a horrific end at this time last year. Again the same team, and on the same turf, where his long road to recovery began, Smith earned his redemption in the biggest of ways.
The electrifying Smith accounted for 202 all-purpose yards, including a back-breaking 82-yard punt return for a touchdown early in the fourth quarter, as the Aggies defeated Arkansas 34-22 in the Southwest Classic played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday afternoon. The Aggie defense also scored a touchdown, on a 16-yard pick six from Chris Russell Jr. late in the third quarter, while holding the vaunted Razorbacks offense to to just 174 yards of total offense.
The Aggies’ last-second 23-21 victory last season against Arkansas was marred by an injury to Smith, whose right leg was fractured when he was rolled up on while throwing a block downfield, ending his season. Before that game against the Razorbacks, Smith had accounted for more than a quarter of Texas A&M’s offense, and, before today’s game, he vowed to get revenge on the turf where he saw his promising 2022 cut short.
His first big plays of the afternoon came as a receiver, catching a 19-yard pass from quarterback Max Johnson on a third-and-2 to keep the Aggies’ first drive alive. Three plays later, Johnson found Evan Stewart for a 32-yard touchdown to give Texas A&M a 7-3 lead.
The Razorbacks answered with another field goal to cut their deficit to 7-6, but Smith went back to work on the next offensive play for the Aggies, hauling a 29-yard pass from Johnson down the left sideline to move Texas A&M into Arkansas territory. The drive ended with Randy Bond’s 42-yard field goal to reestablish the Aggies’ four-point advantage.
*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday afternoon’s game, with all photos taken by Dallas-area photographer Ross James. After clicking on the first photo to enlarge the picture, make sure to press the left and right arrow buttons to scroll through the rest of the pictures. There are 15 pictures in total.