BATON ROUGE, La. -- Arkansas saved its best for last, but LSU was just like Rutgers and Mississippi State. The Tigers owned the fourth quarter to rally to a 31-27 victory Friday, the ninth straight for the Razorbacks.
Arkansas would make just 24 yards on nine plays in the fourth quarter when it could not put away the No. 15 Tigers.
It was so much like the Rutgers loss, the first in the nine-game string, and last week in the overtime defeat to Mississippi State. In all three, Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema's first team was blanked in the fourth quarter after earning the lead through three periods.
LSU's freshman combo of quarterback Anthony Jennings and wide receiver Travin Dural hooked up on a streak down the sideline for a 49-yard touchdown bomb with 1:15 left to complete a 99-yard winning drive that started with just 3:04 to play.
LSU scored 10 unanswered points in the final quarter. The Hogs had dominated the second and third quarters to take a 27-21 lead on Brandon Allen's 2-yard pass to Hunter Henry.
LSU closed within 27-24 on a 37-yard field goal from Colby Delahoussaye with 4:56 to go just after the Hogs knocked out LSU starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The play Mettenberger left on was a bizarre 32-yard completion to Jarvis Landry, a play that seemed to be an interception by UA cornerback D. J. Dean. But Landry rolled over Dean and came away with the reception.
The Hogs came up about two feet short on Allen's third-and-3 pass following the field goal. Sam Irwin-Hill blasted a 65-yard punt to the 1-yard line to set up the winning heroics for the Tigers.
LSU's four touchdowns covered 29, 23, 52 and 49 yards. The final one was the shocker, against a nickel defense that Bielema said should have had the back end covered.
LSU -- with 192 yards in the fourth quarter -- won the total offense battle, 470 to 360. Jeremy Hill led the Tigers with 145 yards rushing as his team ran for 238. Jarvis Landry had eight catches fort 117 yards, Hill five catches for 27. Dural had only one catch, for the winning score.
UA quarterback Brandon Allen completed 19 of 29 with one interception, two TDs. He his one interception was a throw into the end zone for Jeremy Sprinkle in the second quarter to end a nice march. Allen fumbled on a scramble to end the Hogs' chances in the final minute.
Jonathan Williams led the UA ground attack with 58 yards on 13 carries. Alex Collins had only 28 on 11 tries, just 2.5 per run. But Collins did join Darren McFadden as the only UA true freshman -- and 10th in SEC history -- to top the 1,000-yard mark. He finished the season with 1,026. McFadden had 1,113 in 2005.
Alan Turner led the Arkansas defense with 11 tackles and one interception. Brooks Ellis had 10 and Jarrett Lake eight.
"It was obviously a very difficult ending to a good football game," Bielema said, noting the Hogs were in "deep half coverage" that should have provided help for cornerback Jared Collins.
"In deep half, there are layers," Bielema said. "The deep layer was not there.
"You cannot win football games if they're throw the ball over your head. I know that in junior high football. That's very evident. So I mean, it's just disappointing."
Dural streaked past Collins, but there was no help over the top from the safety.
"It's a difficult play because there is supposed to be top half help for (the cornerback)," Bielema said. "The player was not there."
The Hogs finished 3-9, the first year under Bret Bielema as head coach. It is the first time in his coaching career that Bielema did not take his team to a bowl. His last three Wisconsin teams finished in the BCS Rose Bowl.
Arkansas had not gone without a win in a conference season since 1942. The Razorbacks had won at least two conference games every year since joining the SEC in 1992. They have lost 12 straight SEC games dating back to beating Kentucky.
It all left senior center Travis Swanson shaking his head in disbelief. What will he remember about the season?
"Everyone had faith the whole time, everyone cared," Swanson said. "Everybody tried their hardest and it didn't work out. There was not one moment when everyone didn't try.
"You can point at different things, but it just didn't work out. It's heart breaking. It all was."
LSU coach Les Miles credited Arkansas for playing "very well ... they played extremely hard all game. I can tell you that it may not have been exactly the style of game that we like to play."
Bielema said the "dynamics" of why the Hogs lost are "easy to fix. You just can't allow certain things to happen ... we couldn't catch a break on the Dean had the ball ... but a true freshman has to learn from that. You can't let your guard down for one second."
As far as what has to be learned, Bielema said, "It's in the details. Individual plays affect the group. We do have to make great analysis as coaches and not ask our players to do something they can't do."
LSU won the first quarter, 14-7, with scoring drives of 70 and 75 yards that were remarkably similar. Running back Terrence Magee went around right end for the final 29 yards, untouched, to give LSU a 7-0 lead at 11:15 of the first. He blasted off tackle on the left side for the final 23 yards at the 3:38 mark of the first quarter.
In between, Arkansas scored twice, but the first was wiped out by penalty. Korliss Marshall's 100-yard kickoff return was erased by a holding call on Daunte Carr.
The Hogs went 86 yards in eight plays after the penalty, with Kiero Small covering the final 3 yards. He was in the Wildcat with four tight ends. He went off right guard.
Quarterback Brandon Allen found Keon Hatcher for completions of 43 and 8 yards, then flipped a pass to Hunter Henry for 7 yards just ahead of Small's TD run. It was 7-7 at the 6:36 mark of the first quarter.
The Hogs finally forced an LSU punt on the home team's third possession of the game when Byran Jones sacked Mettenberger to set up an incomplete pass on third-and-18. Mettenberger hat 3 of 6 in the first quarter for 36 yards.
The Hogs tied it with another eight-play, 86-yard march with Allen finding Henry for the final 9 yards on a play-action fake that moved the safety.
There was only one third down in the drive, a third-and-1 quick pitch to Javontee Herndon, motioning to line up at tailback. Herndon rolled 42 yards to the 9-yard line. Allen had under thrown Herndon open deep earlier in the drive.
The Hogs controlled the rest of the first half with solid defense. Their 17-14 lead could have been greater -- after a 32-yard run by Marshall -- except for Allen's interception going for one-on-one coverage in the end zone for Jeremy Sprinkle.
That gave LSU 3:39 to operate with and Mettenberger moved the chains twice. Then, the Hogs got their first turnover of the game when Braylon Mitchell, coming off the bench late in the first quarter, sacked and knocked the ball away from Mettenberger. It was the third sack of the half after LSU entered with only two home sacks on the season. Brandon Lewis covered it for the Hogs at the LSU 28.
The Hogs had 2:03 left and two timeouts. Allen converted third-and-7 with an 8-yard strike to Julian Horton on a slant. He found Henry for 12 to the 5-yard line with 40 seconds left.
Jonathan Williams made 2 yards to the 3-yard line, but Allen was incomplete to Hatcher and Small, in the Wildcat, made nothing on the sweep before the Hogs called timeout with one second left. Hocker converted from 20 yards on the final play of the half.
LSU deferred after winning the toss, but the turnovers continued when Alan Turner intercepted Metterberger and returned 24 to the LSU 39-yard line. Jonathan Williams made 18 on a draw, but the Hogs stalled at the 11-yard line. Hocker extended the lead to 20-14 with a 28-yard field goal.
LSU answered with a five-play drive, capped by Jeremy Hill's 52-yard sprint off tackle. The Tigers blocked the point of attack perfectly and Hill split Tevin Mitchel and Turner to set sail. It was 21-20 LSU at the 7:35 mark of the third quarter.
The Hogs responded with perhaps their best drive of the year, a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown march capped by Allen's 2-yard throw to an all-along Henry. The Hogs converted a fourth-and-4 with a pretend fake punt with Hocker under center and the Tigers jumping off side.
Allen was 5-of-7 for 40 yards in the drive. Williams took advantage of masterful blocking by center Travis Swanson on an 11-yard burst to the LSU 8-yard line. The Hogs -- out gaining the Tigers, 336-278, in the first three quarters -- had it by 27-21 with 50 seconds left in the third quarter.
Bielema said his message in the post-game locker room: don't forget the hurt or what happened to the Hogs in Baton Rouge.
"The only thing I asked them to do is take what you learned today here and take it home with you," Bielema said. "Don't leave it here. if we leave it here in baton rouge, we'll never overcome where we're at right now and I think our guys will.
"I think our guys expected to win. We didn't try to stay close. I think the prepare from last Sunday and today and expected to win. The reason they're gutted right now, was, obviously, the play hurt. But they fully expected to win the game as well as I did.
"They all hurt. I think the part that's the most disappointing is to know that you put yourself in position to win a game and you didn't do it. You didn't close it out. "
The Hogs moved the ball until the fourth quarter.
"Offensively, they've gotten better every week," Bielema said. "The running game was there. The blocking has gotten better every week."
The Hogs played 14 freshmen and 28 underclassmen against LSU. But Bielema got misty eyed as he went through the season and the end for 19 seniors.
"I'm numb," Bielema said. "Frustrated. Wanted to give some good feeling going into the offseason. But I think our coaches, our players, people gave up a lot to come here.
"I know where we're going to go, I just wanted to give these seniors that Golden Boot.
"I wanted to see them run across the field. I wanted to see them celebrate. I want our guys to feel … until you taste it, I grew up on a farm and you didn't want certain animals to taste blood because once they taste blood you've got to kill them because they'll keep coming back for it.
"I think our players will do the same once they grasp it and truly get the feeling of what beating somebody's will out of them can do to a person. And it will come. Unfortunately it can't come now until next year.
"We're going to get there. I feel terrible for razorback fans that bleed as much as our players and coaches and everybody. But it's going to make the victories and the future that much sweeter."
UA safety Alan Turner, on the other side of the field when LSU hit the winning play, was devastated.
"It was extremely hard fought and it didn't go our way," Turner said. "They made a couple of good plays to go 99 on us, but we didn't make some plays. One of our defensive players got caught out of place and got beat over the top.
"To give up that 99-yard drive, that's real painful, especially with all we did to try to get the win for the seniors. It's all we had left, to play for a trophy and we should have won. We should have won."
Tight end Hunter Henry said it shouldn't have come down to that. The Hogs came up short by one yard on their last two possessions. He said the Hogs were one first down away from victory.
"I know we were that close," he said. "We fought hard and gave tremendous effort but we didn't come up with enough plays at the end. We didn't close it out."
Henry was asked if to lose a close one was tougher than some of the others?
"Yes, it hurt much more than like the Alabama game," Henry said. "Definitely, we thought we were going to win all the way up until the end. Then we gave it to them at the end. It's definitely tough. We didn't carry it out for the seniors and now this is what we have to remember throughout the offseason.
"Our offense works when we run the ball and then we can work our play-action passing. It gets pretty easy at that point.
"We are not backing down from anyone. We should have won. What I think we takeaway is that we continued to fight despite the consecutive losses."
Hunter Henry tries to stay in bounds.
Braylon Mitchell strips the ball away from Zach Mettenberger.
Keon Hatcher rolls after a catch.
Trey Flowers sacks Mettenberger.
Jonathan Williams was called for a face mask penalty.
Brandon Lewis pounced on this fumble.
D. J. Dean had his hands on an interception, but Jarvis Landry took it away.
Jonathan Williams rushed for 58 yards.
Brandon Allen scrambles for a 7-yard gain.
Photos by Jason Ivester, Hawgs Illustrated
LSU 31, Arkansas 27
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