LITTLE ROCK - Because the three most maligned University of Arkansas football players this season came through in the clutch Friday afternoon against LSU, we now have The Miracle on Markham – Redux.
Senior quarterback Casey Dick hit London Crawford on a 24-yard touchdown pass on fourth down with 21.8 seconds left and then Alex Tejada drilled the game-winning PAT as the Razorbacks rallied to down the Tiger 31-30 before 55,325 fans at War Memorial Stadium.
Freshmen Dennis Johnson had 135 yards rushing in the game, which saw the Razorbacks (5-7, 2-5) rally from a 30-14 deficit and end with Colt David's 63-yard field goal attempt falling way short.
"They played with great effort and I couldn't be more proud of the football team and the assistant coaches," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "We hung in there, it was hard fought and it came down to the last second and we got the win."
With Arkansas trying not to lose its third straight game to end the year and seeking it second straight win over LSU (7-5, 3-5), the game-winning drive started with 2:22 left.
The consummate two-minute drive covered 69 yards in 11 plays with Dick hitting Joe Adams for a four-yard gain that left the Razorbacks a yard shy of the first down.
Dick - 18 for 29 for 197 yards while playing only in the second half - then went for it all and Crawford got separation from LSU defensive back Chris Hawkins in the right corner of the end zone.
"We looked up and it was 4th and 1, we didn't get the first down and the clock was running," Petrino said. "So we decided to go for a touchdown rather than the first down. We just made a protection call and called an all go. He made a great throw to London and London went up and caught the ball."
That corner of the end zone was the same place that Matt Jones hit DeCori Birmingham in 2002 when Arkansas also took a last-second win from LSU in Little Rock.
Nick Saban was the coach back then for LSU while Arkansas senior center Jonathan Luigs was in high school.
"I remember the Miracle on Markham in 2002," Lugis said. "I think I was a junior or senior in high school. This game was very similiar to that one, It was two players making a play in the corner of the end zone and it was just an amazing finish.
"We never doubted ourseleves coming into this game, but we knew LSU was tough," Luigs said. "We work on the two minute drill all the time in practice so we were comfortale on that last drive."
he Tigers fielded a squib kick after Arkansas' touchdown, but after two incomplete passes made the decision to go for the 63-yard field goal with David's career long being of 52 yards.
"I've seen him kick 65 (yards)," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "He has plenty of leg. A deep pass or a play that has to be caught underneath and scored. Or you can control your own destiny and try to kick 3 for the win. I have great confidence in him."
Petrino admitted that the last 21 seconds to go the way he had planned with LSU fielding the squib kick and Chad Jones returning it 17 yards to the Arkansas 46.
"We wanted to squib kick deeper than that," Petrino said. "It wasn't exactly how we practiced it during the week, but we wanted to make someone else field it. That was a scary situation with where they were and the kicker they have. We thought we could go into a prevent defense and keep everything in front."
Miles was upset that his team had several penalties that bailed Arkansas out as the Razorbacks mounted the comeback.
"Our football team should win that game," Miles said. "Our football team should manage that game and play smarter. They had a drive that was assisted by at least three penalties and they got three points.
"It just makes you sick," Miles continued. " I told the team that it's the last time. It's not
happening anymore. Those people that get back on this plane and go back to Baton Rouge are going to work awful hard. To those seniors and those guys that busted their tail in that game, I'm
sad (for them) because that should've been one you mark in your win column."
LSU linebacker Darryl Beckwith was obviously also crushed at losing the big lead in such dramatic fashion.
"To play as hard as we did and lose the way we did is heartbreaking," Beckwith said. "We could have played better on the first two series (with Arkansas jumping ahead 14-3). We have not lost five games in as long as I can remember."
Down 30-14 to LSU, Dick – who had been benched the week before - replaced his injured brother Nathan and led the Razorbacks to two straight scores on his second and third series.
"Nathan hurt his thumb on that interception (late in the second quarter) when he went over and made the tackle," Petrino said. "We came out at halftime and both Casey and Nathan were warming up, but Nathan wasn't throwing the ball like he was eary so we made the decision to go with Casey.
"He came out and competed extremely hard and you couldn't be more happy for him," Petrino said.
"It is frustrating to not start the last two games of your senior season, but I was patient and made the most of my opportunity today," Casey Dick said. "My whole career has been a great experience with plenty of highs and plenty of lows, but it's something I can look back on and be proud of.
"My brother and I are very lucky to be able to play on the same college team," Casey added. "Not a lot of people get to do that. We support each other in everything we do and through everything that happens and after it's all over we are still going to be brothers and nothing can change that."
Casey Dick's first scoring toss was a one-play, 46-yard touchdown pass to Jarius Wright, whose double move got him open and combined with Tejada's PAT to cut it 30-21 with 7:23 left in the third quarter.
The second scoring drive was a 17-play, 90-yard drive that took over 8 minutes and resulted in Tejada's 22-yard field goal, which brought the Razorbacks within 30-24 with 12:33 left in the game.
Arkansas got to LSU 20 later in the fourth quarter, but Casey Dick was sacked on 4-and-10 with 5:31 remaining.
The Razorback defense then stepped up against LSU and starting quarterback Jordan Jefferson to give the offense one more shot.
"We did everything we could," Jefferson said. "It just wasn't enough and it hurts."
Arkansas raced out to a 14-3 lead with Johnson – getting his first star with Michael Smith out due to injury - leading the way.
Returning to the scene of some of his big performances for Texarkana in state title games, Johnson rolled up 97 yards in the first quarter alone.
His 17-yard scoring run with 11:40 in the opening quarter started the scoring.
David kicked a 29-yard field goal to cut it to 7-3, Johnson then ripped off a 57-yard run to set up Arkansas' second score.
That happened when Nathan Dick connected with Andrew Davie on a 1-yard scoring toss and Tejada added the PAT for the 14-3 advantage with 4:54 remaining in the second quarter.
"Offensively we were able to mix in the run,' Petrino said. "We were able to get some three, four and five yard runs and were able to some hard earned yards with Dennis Johnson and his ability to make those hard yards."
Just like the previous week when the Razorbacks jumped out to a 14-0 lead at Mississippi State, the UA offense went stagnant in the second quarter.
It didn't appear to me that we were the same defense after the second series," Miles said. "It just felt like we were better. We just started playing. They were making some plays on those first drives, but I still expect our defense to play better than that."
LSU then started its comeback – and started a stretch of four straight scoring drives in the second frame - with Charles Scott scoring from 5 yards out to cut it to 14-10 with 11:25 before intermission.
David's 46-yard field goal at the 6:59 mark cur that deficit to 1 and then Jefferson's 11-yard pass to Richard Dixon gave the Tigers a 20-14 lead at the 1:17 mark.
Arkansas tried to cut into that margin, but Nathan Dick's pass was picked off by Perry Riley with 56 seconds showing.
That allowed LSU to go up 23-14 when David was true from 31 with 29 seconds left.
The game then looked like it was going to be a blowout when Brandon Lefell hauled in a 32-yard scoring toss from Jefferson and David's boot made it 30-14 less than two minutes into the third quarter.
But that only set the stage for the dramatics in a year that Arkansas will not go to a bowl, but end the year with a win for the first time since 2003.
"It helps us a lot," Petrino said. "It helps us go into the offseason coming off a this - a great win and taste in your mouth. We know that our players fought extremely hard, we were very young and we can go out and have a great recruiting season.
"I feel so good about our players," Petrino added. "They kept working hard, going to practice with good attitudes, practicing to get better as a an individual, practicing to get better as a unit. Our seniors did a great job of just hanging in there and working and keeping everybody together."
London Crawford hauls in a 24-yard touchdown pass from Casey Dick with 21.8 seconds left as LSU defensive back Chris Hawkins looks on helplessly.
Arkansas 31, LSU 30
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