Ryan Mallett got off to a great start, looking right at home in an NFL stadium. He could've gone home awfully disappointed, though, if not for Tramain Thomas' interception in the end zone on the game's final play. Mallett threw three touchdown passes in the first half, but failed to build on it and No. 11 Arkansas ended up holding on for a 24-17 victory over Texas A&M at Cowboys Stadium on Saturday.
The Razorbacks (4-1) let the game get so close by failing to take advantage of three fumble recovering inside the Aggies' 40-yard line. They got just one field goal out of it, their only points in the second half. Mallett threw a 9-yard touchdown pass to Joe Adams on his first series and hit Cobi Hamilton on a pinpoint 71-yard touchdown pass for another score later in the first quarter. When he stretched the lead to 21-7 with 53 seconds left, the Razorbacks (4-1) looked poised for a huge bounce back from their narrow loss to No. 1 Alabama in their previous game.
But Jarrod Johnson led A&M (3-2) for a quick touchdown before the half, then a field goal in the third quarter to get within 21-17. Meanwhile, the Aggies' defense took away the deep routes and pretty much everything else for Mallett. On the game's final drive, Johnson converted on third-and-10 and fourth-and-14. A pass interference penalty put A&M on the Arkansas 39 with 6 seconds left, forcing Johnson to throw into the end zone and hope for the best. Thomas ended up with the ball, the Razorbacks with the victory.
Mallett threw for 132 yards in the first quarter, then just 178 the rest of the game, a total of 310. He was 27 of 38, with an interception that set up the Aggies' first touchdown. Arkansas likely will need even more from him next week at No. 8 Auburn. Johnson was 15 of 40 for 212 yards. A&M's Von Miller, who led the nation with 17 sacks last season, had his first of the season. The Aggies notched three, after coming in with only five all season.
This is the second game in a 10-year series between these schools at the stadium built by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, an Arkansas alum. His Razorbacks won 47-19 last year. The game drew 65,622, and caused for quite a traffic day in Arlington as a baseball playoff game between the Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays started 1½ hours after kickoff.