BATON ROUGE – Death Valley on a Saturday night certainly did not scare the University of Arkansas football team, but Josh Jasper's leg got the Razorbacks in the end.
Jasper's 41-yard field goal sent the game into overtime and he won it with a 36-yarder in overtime as No. 15 LSU downed Arkansas 33-30 in a thriller before 93,013 fans at Tiger Stadium.
Razorbacks junior kicker Alex Tejeda, who had made all three of his earlier field goals from 47, 35 and 30, missed his one of 36 on the UA's overtime possession and thus ended the game.
"He had to go out there and kick the ball through the uprights," Arkansas head coach Bobby Petrino said. "He did it all game long and made some nice kicks during the game. I have a lot of confidence in him. Unfortunately, he just missed."
Ryan Mallett's 14-yard pass to Joe Adams had given Arkansas a 30-27 lead with 1:18 left in a game where the Razorbacks rallied from 17-3 and 24-13 deficits.
Greg Childs (5 catches for 124 yards) had some big plays in the comeback as did running back Dennis Johnson (9 carries, 78 yards).
"That just shows how much character our team has," Mallett said. "We battled back, played our butts off. Everyone on this team did, but we didn't pull it off tonight."
But Jasper's field goals would not allow for a third straight Arkansas win over LSU.
"You have got to give it to Josh Jasper for a guy who comes onto the field and gets us into overtime and gets us the win in overtime," LSU head coach Les Miles said. "You count on a guy like that to play big at big times and he does."
That made the defeat even more stinging for the Razorbacks (7-5, 3-5), who had won four straight games.
"It was a tough loss for us," Petrino said. "I'm certainly proud of our players, our assistant coaches, our preparation and how hard we competed. "It was a very tough, physical football game. Unfortunately we came up on the wrong end in overtime."
That Mallett-to-Adams scoring toss was the culmination of a 12-yard, 75-yard drive on which Arkansas got a first down after a violent helmet-to-helmet call on Chad Jones for hitting Adams at the goal line.
"That was a pretty vicious hit," Petrino said. "They hit him like that earlier in the game, too, so that's two on him. You hate to see that on anyone."
LSU's Jordan Jefferson (17-of-25 for 179 yards) led a 41-yard drive to get the Tigers in position for Jasper's game-tying field goal.
"There is no excuse," Arkansas defensive end Jake Bequette said. "They had some time, but we had to stop them there. I thought we were getting a pretty good rush on them for three guys, but they kept completing those short little passes.
"They have an excellent field goal kicker and they sent it into overtime. It was all on us to finish the game off and we couldn't get it done."
Miles, whose coaching blunder last week cost the Tigers (9-3, 5-3) a chance to beat Ole Miss last week, was obviously proud of his team.
"I'm proud of our team," Miles said. "They fought like hell in an area where there was a swirling backdrop and agendas. They got the distraction behind them and came out and played as a team. I'm very proud of them."
The Razorbacks actually had a 375-326 yard total offense advantage with Mallett connecting on 17-of-39 passes for 227 yards.
Arkansas also had a good day rushing the ball with 148 yards on the ground, one more than LSU had on the night.
A two-yard loss on run on the first play of overtime handicapped Arkansas efforts to get the game-winning TD
"We had a play called, but he checked out of the play and basically they just blew it up," Petrino said.
The win likely boosted LSU (9-3, 5-3) into a Capitol One Bowl berth while Arkansas had its four-game winning streak stopped with the loss.
The Razorbacks could still see themselves land anywhere – including either the Cotton or Liberty Bowls and maybe a couple of others - according to bowl scouts on hand for the game.
"Every time you get a game that you should have won it cuts deep," Arkansas senior defensive tackle Malcolm Sheppard said. "Everybody gave their all and everybody competed. It just didn't fall in our favor at the end of the game."
It was certainly no post-Thanksgiving feast for the Razorbacks early in the game because of LSU running back and kick returner Trindon Holliday, who had 212 all-purpose yards.
Hollidah 3 punt returns for 109 yards – one a 87-yard score – rushed for 57 yards and returned 2 kickoffs for 46 yards.
"Tonight was Senior Night so I told myself I wanted to come out and do something tio remember my last game in Tigers Stadium. The punt return is something I think I will definitely remember."
After the Razorbacks took a 3-0 lead, Holliday rushed twice for 31 yards before Jefferson hit Brandon LaFell on a 16-yard touchdown pass.
His 23-yard punt return put the Tigers in great shape at the Arkansas 46, but LSU ended up settling for Jasper's 47-yard field goal and a 10-3 lead with :08 left in the first quarter.
The next time the Razorbacks punted him the ball, Holliday took it in at his own 13 and raced 87 yards untouched into the end zone.
Jasper's PAT made it 17-3 with 12:29 remaining.
Arkansas cut its deficit to 17-6 with 48 seconds left before halftime when Tejada drilled a 35-yard field goal.
"We certainly made some nice adjustments at halftime (down 17-6), competed hard and got in position where we had a chance to win the game," Petrino said.
The third quarter got off to a great start for the Razorbacks when Jerry Franklin picked off Jefferson and return it 28 yards to the LSU 27.
Ronnie Wingo took care of all that yardage in three carries with runs of 10, 4 and 13 on a touchdown dash.
Tejada's PAT got it to within 17-13 less than three minutes into the second half.
LSU regained its 11-point lead on the next possession when Jefferson hit DeAngelo Peterson on a 16-yard that made it 24-13.
That set the stage for Arkansas' rally.
Broderick Green's 8-yard touchdown run got his team to with 24-20 with 4:15 left and then Tejada's 40-yard field goal cut it to 24-23 with 9:52 remaining in the contest.
Jasper's 47-yarder with 4:05 left in the game pushed it to 27-23, but Mallett led his team down the field to take the lead.
"The energy was there," Sheppard said. "We felt like we were going to win this game. There was no doubt in any of our minds. Everybody felt like we were going to win the game. At the end it just didn't fall in our favor."
LSU 33, Arkansas 30 (OT)
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