Brandon Allen did not step forward in yet another late-game situation, but he did look squarely to the cameras after a 28-21 overtime loss to Texas A&M. And, he probably said what fans have been saying about his failures at the end of losses when he had a chance to win the game.
Repeatedly, the Arkansas senior quarterback -- marvelous for three quarters -- pointed the finger at only himself as the media crowded around him in the AT&T Stadium interview room. There were three different times as reporters probed for the reasons behind yet another close loss.
"This one is on me,"Allen said late in the interview. "Entirely. I have to get it done."
He was blaming himself at the start, too.
"I wasn't able to come through," Allen said. "The whole team played great and I wasn't able to help out.
"Our offensive line played great, our backs and receivers played great. Every one battled."
Allen was magnificent for about 50 minutes, completing 19 of 22 passes for 220 yards through three quarters. But he missed both his passes in overtime, finishing the night at 20 of 25 for 225. He was incomplete on his two attempts in overtime, throwing short for tight end Jeremy Spinkle on third down with A&M corner De'Vante Harris batting down the throw for Drew Morgan to end the game.
"It was scramble rules," said Allen, who stepped out of the pocket to Sprinkle's side. "It looked like he was about to turn up and he stopped. He was wide open and I didn't put it on him."
Sprinkle still had a shot on it. He slowed his gait towards the sideline and reached back for the underthrown ball and couldn't make the catch.
It would have provided the first down and kept alive a shot at Arkansas matching the first score in the overtime when A&M's Kyle Allen found Christian Kirk on a 20-yard pass play. Henre' Toliver was beaten on that play.
Allen had the game's only turnovers, a fourth-and-7 throw for Jojo Robinson in the first half. He lost a fumble on a sack late in the game when Denver Kirkland was beaten on an outside rush by A&M's Myles Garrett.
Kirkland had jumped offside just a few minutes earlier when the Hogs were trying to clinch the game with a dynamic drive with the running game, nursing a 21-13 lead. Kirkland's penalty came on fourth-and-3 when the Hogs were going for it at the A&M 35 after running the clock from 10:35 to just 4:19.
"That was the key drive," Allen said. "We ran it when they knew we were going to run it and our line blocked them and our backs made great runs. Alex Collins was a stud. He made people miss and broke through tackles. Give our line a lot of credit.
"We were about to go for it and we could have closed it out. I liked the play and the look we got from the defense. We'd been good with that play. That play was perfect. We probably would have had a completion and moved the chains. We had the play."
But after Kirkland jumped, Arkansas coach Bret Bielema elected to punt. With the snap coming from the A&M 40, he said that was out of Cole Hedlund's range for a field goal.
"(Offensive coordinator) Dan Enos felt good with the play," Bielema said. "It was a play we ran earlier.
"A field goal? We were on the left hash and that's been a little bit of an issue (for Hedlund). I'd written down we had to get to the 23 and we were not quite there."
Obviously, the Hogs just were not quite there for the night. There were so many positives, like the running of Collins and the big game from Morgan at wide receiver. Collins made 151 on 26 carries. Morgan had eight catches for 155.
But the Hogs were penalized 11 times for 93 yards. There were four holding penalties.
"Obviously, they were throwing the flag at will," Bielema said.
It seemed like the SEC crew led by Hubert Owens did throw the flag, at seemingly every offensive linemen. Tight end Hunter Henry also got multiple penalties. Bielema was animated just before halftime when center Mitch Smothers was flagged for holding.
"I had one a problem with one of them because I did watch Mitch on that play," Bielema said. "I wanted to know how they were going to call it. Hopefully, we can move forward now."
The Hogs overcame some of the holding calls with Allen's passing.
"It's hard to win when you have five or six holds," Allen said. "We did over come a lot of them, but I wasn't able to do some things at the end to help us win."
That's when he brought up the incompletion to Sprinkle in the overtime.
Morgan thought it was going to be a moot point when he heard the fourth-down call with his number on it.
"When Coach (Enos) called it, I got goose bumps," Morgan said. "I thought I was going to score a touchdown. But De'Vante made a great play. He's got experience and he made a great break on the ball. I had scouted him all week and I thought I could beat him on the out route. But he got there."
Morgan was told that Allen was taking the blame on the other side of the interview room.
"Brandon played great," Morgan said. "One individual doesn't lose. The team loses. We made dumb team penalties. That's how you lose."
Then, Morgan repeated himself.
"Brandon should not take the blame," he said. "He played great.
"He was hitting on 110 percent for almost the entire night. He was on the money on that last pass to me, but De'Vante made a great play."
Morgan reached back for a saying from Greenwood coach Rick Jones, with a particular eye towards the rash of penalties that have plagued the Hogs all season.
"You have to row forward," Morgan said. "Everyone has to row forward. And, if you can't, you need to get out of the boat because everyone has to be rowing the same direction."
Bielema said he's looked for ways to help Allen in critical moments, trying to lighten the mood. Bielema said with injuries wreaking havoc with offensive playmakers, the quarterback seems to be trying to put more of the burden on himself.
"As we've lost guys, I think he's put the weight of the world on his shoulders," Bielema said. "I told him to just do his job and we will try to give him some help."
The defense didn't help at the end. A&M quarterback Kyle Allen did the bulk of the damage with big throws deep in his own territory at the end. He hit Josh Reynolds behind linebacker Dre Greenlaw for a 63-yard pass, then found Reynolds to beat cornerback D. J. Dean for the tying two-point play. Bielema said Greenlaw should have had safety help on the 63-yarder play.
"It was a communication error at the line," Bielema said. "We've got to get that right at a critical point in the game."
The Hogs did limit the Aggies to 2 of 9 on third downs and just 48 total plays. But A&M averaged 8.8 yards per play. They gashed them for big plays, but did force two field goals near the goal line.
"(Defensive coordinator) Robb Smith streamlined the call sheet," Bielema said. "We wanted to line up right."