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Ross James/ALOST

akoiki-passport2 – by Adesina O. Koiki
A Lot of Sports Talk editor-in-chief

 

ARLINGTON, Texas — After being dominated for much of the first half, it appeared that No. 23 Texas A&M would need some sleight of hand to escape going down to defeat for the second time in three weeks. What it eventually took to turn around the Aggies’ fortunes was a hand-off instead, one that capped off one of the most unusual plays of the college football season and also one that may kickstart Texas A&M’s resurgence back near the top of the college football landscape.

Defensive back Demani Richardson received a handoff off a recovered fumble and returned it 82 yards for a touchdown late in the first half, the turning point of a game that the Aggies came back from 14-point deficit to defeat No. 10 Arkansas 23-21 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington on Saturday night. Running back Devon Achane rushed for 159 yards and a touchdown for the Aggies, who recorded their second win against a ranked opponent in consecutive weeks on the heels of a shocking 17-14 home defeat at the hands of Appalachian State earlier in the month.

The win was not sealed until Razorbacks kicker Cam Little, who had made more than 80 percent of his field goal attempts in his career, missed a 42-yard field goal attempt with under a minute to go when the ball hit the top of the right upright before falling back onto the field of play.

The Razorbacks scored the game’s first two touchdowns in opening up a 14-0 lead, and were on the verge of building back that two-touchdown advantage late in the first half when, on a first down play from the Aggies’ 3-yard line, quarterback KJ Jefferson fumbled the ball while trying to leap over the pile to score, with the ball eventually being recovered by Texas A&M defensive back Tyreek Chappell. With Arkansas running back Raheim Sanders set to make the tackle along the far sideline, Chappell handed the ball off to Richardson, who scooted down the sideline and into the end zone to cut the Razorbacks’ lead to 14-13 with 3:49 remaining in the first half. (The Aggies missed the extra point, keeping Arkansas ahead going into halftime.)

The Aggies scored all 10 points in the third quarter, including a 9-yard scoring run from Achane, to mark 23 unanswered points after the early deficit, with the fumble return being the highlight of the comeback.

“We’re by far not close to where we need. We have to fix some self-inflicted wounds, got to clean things up,” Texas A&M head coach Jimbo Fisher said. “But we beat two good football teams not playing very well, not at the top of our game, but playing well at times and still competing and making plays when we had to, and it’s very encouraging.”

*Editor’s note: Above the byline is the photo gallery from Saturday evening’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 44 pictures in total.

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Tags : Arkansas RazorbacksCollege FootballSECSoutheastern ConferenceTexas A&M Aggies

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