COLLEGE STATION — This one wasn’t necessarily to avenge last season’s loss to Arkansas. And, it really wasn’t about making a statement to the rest of the Southeastern Conference, either.
The Texas A&M Aggies wanted to beat their former Southwest Conference rivals for the seniors.
“It was just a mindset,” said A&M junior running back Ben Malena. “This win was for the seniors. Since I’ve been a part of this program, we haven’t beat Arkansas. The seniors hadn’t beat Arkansas, so we really came in with something to prove and we really just wanted to get this win for the seniors.”
Johnny Manziel broke Texas A&M and SEC records and the Aggies defense shutout Arkansas for the final three quarters to give the Aggies a convincing SEC and personal 58-10 win over the Razerbacks on Saturday at Kyle Field.
Manziel broke school and SEC records with 557 total yards to give the Aggies their first win in the SEC and snap a three-game slide to Arkansas.
“This game was really important,” said A&M senior offensive lineman Patrick Lewis. “The last three years, we haven’t fared well against Arkansas, so it was important. We really wanted to prove a point, get our first SEC win, and beat Arkansas with something we haven’t done in the past.”
Manziel broke the SEC record for total offense of 540 yards set by Archie Manning of Ole Miss in 1969 and matched by LSU’s Rohan Davey in 2001 and the Texas A&M record of 487 yards set by Jerrod Johnson in 2008.
Manziel completed 29 of 38 passes for 453 yards and three touchdowns to break the school passing record 449 yards set by Ryan Tannehill in 2010. He also ran for 104 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries.
“His ability to create offense is what makes him different,” said A&M head coach Kevin Sumlin. “Our receivers are getting a feel for him and he continues to progress as a quarterback, not just a guy who is out there.”
Texas A&M (3-1, 1-1 SEC) trailed 10-7 after the first quarter, but scored 51 unanswered points, including 37 in the second and third quarters where the Aggies have outscored their opponents 134-9 through their first four games.
The A&M defense, despite giving up 515 yards, kept the Razorbacks (1-4, 0-2) off the scoreboard after Zach Hocker gave Arkansas its only lead on a 26-yard field goal with 37 seconds left in the first quarter.
“Coach has been telling us that stuff like this can happen anytime we put our minds to it and just stick to the scheme,” said A&M junior defensive lineman Damontre Moore. “Just to see it all come into play and work out like the coaches said, everybody is overwhelmed.”
Taylor Bertolet kicked field goals of 46 and 26 yards and Manziel threw touchdown passes of 11 and 80 yards to Malena and Ryan Swope in the second quarter to give the Aggies a 27-10 lead at halftime. The Aggies led Arkansas 35-17 at halftime last year only to lose 42-38 at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, a second-half collapse that became the stigma of Texas A&M in 2011.
Unlike in 2011, though, the Aggies offense never slowed.
Following Steven Terrell’s second interception of Arkansas quarterback Tyler Wilson, Bertolet booted a 21-yard field goal and, later, Christine Michael scored on a 10-yard touchdown. Damontre Moore forced a Knile Davis fumble and Tramain Moore scored the defensive touchdown, rumbling 28 yards for a 44-10 lead with 7:06 left in the quarter.
“We have been talking about that all summer,” said A&M senior lineback Sean Porter of last season’s collapses. “We talked about just coming out and finishing, coming out in the second half and continuing to play the way we’ve been playing. If we just play our game — it’s all about us — I think we can compete with anybody.”
Manziel literally ran a circle around the Razorbacks’ pass rush for his only rushing touchdown of the game, a 6-yarder with 10:23 left in the fourth. Trey Williams scored on a 13-yard with just under three minutes left to play.
“We got the monkey off our back today,” Sumlin said. “These guys were determined all week to play. ... Execution is the key anytime you win a game in that fashion and we took care of the ball on offense. We are getting great effort out of our guys.”
Contact Kevin Posival at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7562