Tigers Slip by Razorbacks

LSU got record-setting performances from LaBrandon Toefield and Josh Reed and shook off a string of mistakes to stay alive in the Southeastern Conference Western Division title race.

Toefield ran for 173 yards and three touchdowns and Reed had 183 yards receiving as LSU beat No. 24 Arkansas 41-38 Friday.

"We had five turnovers and we gave up some big plays on defense, but when you keep competing and keep playing you still have a chance to win," LSU coach Nick Saban said. "We had to come back at several points in the game, but we made the plays we needed to make."

Arkansas and LSU were both in the running for a share of the division championship and a spot in the SEC title game. LSU (7-3, 4-3), the preseason favorite to win the SEC West, will win the division if it beats Auburn next Saturday.

"As a team I think we played good," Arkansas linebacker Jermaine Petty said. "It shows that this team has a real big heart. Everyone counted us out when we were 1-3."

Arkansas (7-4, 4-4), picked to finish last in the West, came into the game with a six-game winning streak. The Razorbacks needed to beat LSU, then have the Tigers beat Auburn to win the division.

"It's been a 15-round heavyweight fight for the last six weeks, especially the last three or four," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "But it went right down to the wire and our guys knew that if we got the ball back, then we would win the game."

Toefield, the SEC leader in rushing TDs, piled up his 173 yards on 30 carries. Toefield's 18 touchdowns this season breaks Charles Alexander's 24-year-old record of 17 set in 1977. He is tied with Herschel Walker of Georgia for the second most touchdowns in a season in the SEC. Walker had 18 in 1981.

"We knew that once we got past the line myself and the receivers had to do it from there and we did," Toefield said. "We saw on film where they overran plays, but also made big plays in the backfield, so we had to be patient."

Reed, who leads the nation in yards-per-game, had seven catches for his 183 yards.

LSU overcame four interceptions, a lost fumble and seven penalties to shake off the Razorbacks.

The final difference in the game was the three 2-point conversions Arkansas failed to make.

With LSU up 27-25, Rohan Davey's pass was intercepted by Arkansas cornerback Ahmad Carroll on the second play of the fourth quarter. The Razorbacks drove to the LSU 26, but Brennan O'Donohoe missed a 43-yard field-goal.

"I was trying to make plays that weren't there," Davey said. "In a game where they stakes are high big players step up and make big plays, that's the bottom line. I should have stuck with the basics and taken what they gave us."

The Tigers came back with Davey's 38-yard touchdown pass to Reed that put LSU up 34-25.

On Arkansas' next possession, LSU safety Ryan Clark picked off Matt Jones' pass, setting LSU up on the Razorbacks 17. Toefield took the handoff and ran in for the score, making it 41-25.

The Razorbacks cut LSU's lead to 10 points, 41-31, when Zak Clark found George Wilson for an 11-yard touchdown pass. With 2:27 remaining in the game, Clark threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Sparky Hamilton to cut the Tigers' lead to 41-38.

Clark, who alternated at quarterback with Jones, completed 10 of 22 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns. Jones was 5-of-10 for 118 yards and two touchdowns. He was intercepted twice.

Davey completed 19 of 33 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns.

LSU took a 7-0 lead four plays into the game when Toefield outran everyone for a 62-yard touchdown.

Arkansas came back on their first possession, capping a 53-yard drive with a 3-yard touchdown run by Jones to tie it at 7.

Arkansas went up 13-7 lead on field goals of 27 and 20 yards.

With 3:24 left in the second quarter, Toefield scored on a 9-yard run, putting the Tigers ahead 19-14. Jones' 15-yard touchdown pass to Richard Smith with 1:19 left put Arkansas back on top 19-14. Then Davey hit Reed for a 20-yard score to give LSU a 20-19 lead at halftime.

Davey threw a 60-yard touchdown pass to Michael Clayton in the third quarter. Arkansas matched it as Jones hit Hamilton with a 61-yard score.

Reed, who leads the nation in yards-per game, broke the SEC record for yards in a season. Travis McGriff of Florida set the mark with 1,357 in 1998. Reed has 1,494. Reed also broke the LSU career receiving record. His 2,755 career yards puts him ahead of the 2,708 mark set by Wendell Davis from 1984-87.


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