ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — KJ Jefferson threw for 202 yards and two touchdowns before getting banged up to start the second half and No. 16 Arkansas held on for a 20-10 win over seventh-ranked Texas A&M on Saturday, the first in the series for the Razorbacks in their 10 seasons as Southeastern Conference foes.
Texas A&M (3-1, 0-1 SEC) also had its overall 11-game winning streak snapped.
Jefferson came up limping and favoring his left leg after getting tackled out of bounds to start the second half, and left a few plays later. But he did return to the game late, and was on the field to take the final kneel-down in the SEC opener to cap Arkansas’ first 4-0 start since 2003.
The Aggies hadn’t allowed a passing touchdown this season until Jefferson’s 85-yard score to Treylon Burks, who pushed by a defender and match the catch near the 40. Burks appeared to stumble, but stayed upright and sprinted down the right sideline for 10-0 lead late in the first quarter.
Arkansas leads 42-33-1 overall in the series that dates back to 1903 and includes their time as longtime Southwest Conference rivals. But Texas A&M had won all nine meetings since joining the SEC in 2012, which was 20 years after the Razorbacks debuted in the league.
Jefferson threw another TD early in the second quarter when AJ Green caught a pass in the left flat, shed one defender, did a stutter step around another one and then got a boost when linebacker Aaron Hansford basically pushed him past yet another defender inside the 25 on way to a 48-yard touchdown.
Jefferson finished 7 of 15 for 212 yards with plenty of big plays. Trelon Smith added 82 yards rushing as the Razorbacks piled up 443 total yards
The Aggies cut the gap to 17-10 midway through the third quarter when Isaiah Spiller took a handoff up the middle, found an open gap and outran four defensive backs to the end zone for a 17-10 lead. That was most of Spillar’s 95 yards.
Texas A&M: The Aggies defense gave up gains of 16, 15, 12 and 23 yards on the Arkansas’ first four snaps of the game. One of those would have been 10 yards longer if not for a downfield holding penalty. Texas A&M had allowed 232 yards passing total in its first three games, the only team in the country allowing fewer than 100 a game. Arkansas had 229 of its 246 yards passing by halftime.
Arkansas: Montaric Brown’s diving interception of a deflected pass early in the fourth quarter was the game’s only turnover, and set up the Razorbacks for a nine-play drive that ended with Cam Little’s 24-yard field goal. Little had a 46-yarder earlier in the game, the first points scored against the Aggies in eight quarters.
Arkansas will almost certainly move up a few spots, and will have its highest ranking since reaching No. 8 during the 2012 season. The Razorbacks came in ranked No. 16, matching their best since then. The Aggies will still be ranked, it’s just a matter of how far they fall after 15 consecutive AP polls since last October ranked in the top 10.
Texas A&M plays four of its next five games at home, with Mississippi State visiting Kyle Field next Saturday.
Arkansas goes to No. 2 Georgia for the second of its four consecutive games against ranked SEC opponents.