FAYETTEVILLE — After leading four straight touchdown drives Saturday night, then watching the Razorbacks vigorously produce a counterpunch, Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel traded a race car for a steamroller.
With the Aggies clinging to a four-point lead, Manziel turned things over to his backs and line against a worn-down UA defense to lead the Aggies on grind-it-out touchdown drives of 68 yards in nine plasys and 57 yards in seven plays on the way to a 45-33 victory over the spunky Razorbacks before 72,613 spectators on a rainy evening at Donald W. Reynolds Stadium.
The Aggies transformed from a fast-paced hot rod with a Heisman Hemi to slapping the Hogs with a dose of Bieleman Ball.
After the Hogs responded to a 34-yard interception return for a touchdown with a 75-yard drive in four plays, Brandon Allen connected with Hunter Henry twice and used a 9-yard run by Alec Collins to draw with 31-27 with 1:36 left.
Manziel, darting, juking and using video-game maneuvers, generated 253 yards of offense the first half but only 22 more the second half (10 rushing and 12 passing). He went to his Trey-fecta, backs Trey Williams and Tra Carson, to pound the Hogs up the gut and finally turn back the Hogs, who seemed to have a response to everything Manziel threw at them.
The Aggies had 523 yards of total offense.
UA quarterback Brandon Allen, who was nursing a shoulder injury and whose participation was announced by Bieleman on Twitter on Friday night, calmly and craftily guided the Hogs’ offense to 483 yards, hitting 17 of 36 passes for 282 yards and throwing two touchdown passes to Johnathan Williams and one to Keon Hatcher.
“We knew we had to score about every time we had it,” said Bielema, whose Hogs lost for the second straight week and fell to 3-2. “We obviously ran out of steam. But I’m still excited about this football team.”
At game’s end, the Aggie team rushed to a large contigent of fans in a section of the stadium and did the wave the Aggie way.
Collins rushed for 100 yards the fourth time this season (116 on 14 carries and a touchdown). Williams had 53 on 10 carries, but electrified the crowd on a 19-yard, pinball style run to bring the Hogs with 24-17 in the third quarter.
Manziel completed 23 of 30 passes for 261 yards (204 the first half) and rushed for 59 more (49 the first half).
A&M (4-1) went to 1-1 in the SEC. It was the Hogs’ SEC opener.
“For us to play the way we did, I’m happy but I’m not satisfied with that,” said Bielema.