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ARLINGTON, Texas – Far from perfect, Kenny Hill and sixth-ranked Texas A&M are still undefeated.
The Aggies faced adversity and remained unscathed with an impressive fourth-quarter comeback and a defensive uprising against Arkansas.
"This game is good for us as a team," coach Kevin Sumlin said. "It's the first time this year we've really been in that situation. We were off a little bit. Things here, there; we turned it over. But to come through and play the way he did at the end of the game is a big confidence boost for (Hill). Not that he needs it. He is a pretty confident guy. But for our team, too."
Especially facing the gauntlet of games upcoming for the Aggies (5-0, 2-0 Southeastern Conference).
After coming from two touchdowns down Saturday to win 35-28 in overtime against Arkansas (3-2, 0-2), the only of the seven SEC West teams unranked, the Aggies play at No. 12 Mississippi State next weekend, then take on No. 11 Ole Miss and go to No. 3 Alabama. There is still No. 5 Auburn, No. 24 Missouri and No. 15 LSU left after an off week and a home game against Louisiana-Monroe.
"We prep the same for Alabama as we do for Lamar University. That may be hard for some people to understand, but we prep the same," defensive end Julien Obioha said. "So when the bullets started flying, we were resilient and held in there."
Obioha had the initial hit on the game-ending play, when Arkansas running back Alex Collins — who finished with 131 yards rushing — was stuffed at the line for no gain on fourth-and-1 in overtime.
The Aggies, after winning their first four games by an average of 43 1/2 points, are 5-0 for the first time since 2001. They have outscored their opponents 62-3 in the fourth quarter, but this was the first time the game was even close by then.
"That we can compete with people in the SEC," Hill responded when asked what the Aggies proved with the comeback against Arkansas. "I mean, we didn't play our best. But we still competed and came out with a win. ... I think that shows us, more than anything, we can come back from a deficit like that and we can still come out with a win."
The Razorbacks, who lost their 14th consecutive SEC game, led 28-14 after Brandon Allen faked a handoff and threw a 44-yard touchdown to wide-open AJ Derby with 5 minutes left in the third quarter.
But that was Arkansas' last substantial drive. A 55-yard run to the Aggies 3 early in the fourth quarter was wiped out by a personal foul penalty against left Dan Skipper, the left tackle whose holding penalty in the second quarter took a touchdown off the board.
Hill struggled early, only 3-of-9 passing for 15 yards into the second quarter. The successor to Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel, the Cleveland Browns rookie quarterback who was on the sideline, threw two long touchdowns in the fourth quarter — 86 yards to Edward Pope and 59 yards to Josh Reynolds. He threw a 25-yard touchdown to Malcome Kennedy on the first play of overtime, and finished 21-of-41 for 386 yards with four touchdowns and an interception that came between the two long passes.
"We know we can score like that. We know it is gasoline to a fire," Kennedy said. "We were just waiting for that moment. We were confident in ourselves. We practice this. We do this."