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Unable to maintain momentum, Texas thwarted in its try to rally past Arkansas

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — For the wordsmiths, there were plenty of ways to describe Texas' 40-21 loss at Arkansas on Saturday night.

Longhorn Letdown.

Fayetteville Flop.

Razorback Romp.

For a little while in the second half, however, the Longhorns were in position to write a different headline. Yes, there was nearly a Texas Twist.

Thanks to a three-minute stretch in which Texas notched its first interception of the season and then scored its first points of the night, the Longhorns seemingly had gotten going early in the third quarter, but Arkansas (2-0) responded with 17 unanswered points and the party was underway at Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium.

"The momentum started to get in our favor," UT coach Steve Sarkisian said. "They got it back and then they kind of captured the game moving forward after that."

Arkansas running back Trelon Smith celebrates after scoring a touchdown against Texas in the second half of the Razorbacks' 40-21 victory. The Razorbacks rushed for more than 300 yards in the game.

Trailing 16-0 at halftime, the Longhorns failed to do anything on the opening drive of the second half. Texas was quickly reinvigorated when safety B.J. Foster tipped and intercepted KJ Jefferson's first pass attempt of the third quarter.

Foster returned his interception nine yards to the Arkansas 26. Six plays later, Bijan Robinson plowed into the end zone to cut Arkansas' advantage to nine points.

Texas had successfully seized the momentum in front of a sold-out crowd of 74,539. That momentum shift, though, lasted for less than two minutes.

On the ensuing Arkansas drive, Texas stuffed Dominique Johnson for a first-down loss. But Tyson Morris beat Texas cornerback D'Shawn Jamison for a 45-yard reception. Johnson followed up Morris' big catch with 19- and 12-yard runs. That led to five- and one-yard gains for running back Trelon Smith, the latter run resulting in a touchdown and 23-7 lead.

Texas running back Roschon Johnson is knocked out of bounds just short of the end zone by Arkansas defenders Joe Foucha and Bumper Pool during the second half of Saturday night's loss in Fayetteville.

Six plays. Eighty-one yards. Momentum gone.

"That was a disappointing drive," Texas defensive tackle Keondre Coburn said. "That's bad on defense. That's on us because our job is to not let them score. If they don't score no more, it wouldn't have been like that at the end of the game.

"We've got to go back in the film room. We've got to get back on our roots. We've got to do better to not allow that to happen again." 

More:How the Texas Longhorns graded out in their 40-21 loss to Arkansas

On the drive following Smith's touchdown, Robinson was stuffed on a fourth-and-1 attempt at Texas' 43-yard-line. Quarterback Hudson Card then lost a fumble the next time that UT touched the football. The Arkansas offense later converted those two turnovers into 10 points. The rout was on.

Sarkisian acknowledged that his team had gained some steam after it turned Foster's interception into points. The coach spread the blame for the loss of that momentum. He argued that the offense's failures on its next two drives were "really the key."

"I thought we got a little momentum going there in the third quarter," Sarkisian said. "And then the two drives right there in the third quarter sealed the game with the turnover on downs and then obviously the fumble."

Texas was looking to secure a victory after facing a second-half deficit of at least 16 points for only the seventh time in school history. Instead, the Longhorns suffered their most-lopsided defeat since a 31-9 loss to TCU ended the 2016 season and Charlie Strong's tenure.

The 45-yard connection between Jefferson and Morris accounted for the Razorbacks' longest pass of the night. (It also was Morris' only catch and target against Texas). Johnson was one of six Razorback rushers to record a run of at least 19 yards on Saturday night.

Arkansas finished with 333 rushing yards on 47 attempts. That 7.1 average was the worst allowed by a Texas defense since a 2019 loss to Oklahoma. The aforementioned TCU loss marked the last time the Longhorns allowed 300 rushing yards in a game.