LSU Falls Short

LITTLE ROCK --- LSU's shot at a BCS bowl game went out the window on Saturday night when the Tigers dropped a 31-23 decision at Arkansas. With the loss, LSU finishes the season at 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC.

First Quarter:

-       Arkansas won the toss and elected to receive. On the year the LSU defense hadn’t allowed a point on the first drive of the game, forcing nine punts and two turnovers. This time, the Razorbacks go eight yards in five plays and punt.

-      With Jordan Jefferson under center, LSU’s first drive went nowhere, resulting in -9 yards on three plays. The drive stopped when Jefferson was sacked and flagged for intentional grounding on second down.

-      Missed Opportunity No. 1: The opening drive resulted in no points, but it did present LSU with a big chance to get on the board. Derek Helton’s punt was fumbled by Joe Adams and knocked back towards the Arkansas goalline. Spencer Ware and Ron Brooks both dove for the loose ball at once, knocking it out of bounds in the process. Arkansas took the ball over at the four-yard line, giving Derek Helton an 82-yard punt. The longest in LSU history was 86 yards by Donnie Jones.

-      Missed Opportunity No. 2: A sack by Lavar Edwards on 3rd-and-1 resulted in a fumble by Ryan Mallett, but Wade Grayson jumped on it to save the punt opportunity for the Razorbacks.

-       Missed Opportunity No. 3: After forcing a stop, LSU looked to take the ball back over midway through the first quarter. When return man Patrick Peterson waved everyone clear of the punt, the ball bounced down and off the body of Daniel Graff. Arkansas wide receiver Maudrecas Humphrey recovered the ball 37 yards out from a score.

-       No matter, the Razorbacks came up short when Zach Hocker missed his 41-yard field goal attempt wide left.

-       Right back at you… LSU’s Josh Jasper answered with a wide left miss of his own, pulling a 43-yard attempt after the offense’s best drive of the quarter.

-      With 2:30 left in the quarter, Arkansas broke onto the board first. After Jasper’s miss, Mallett and Knile Davis combined forces to move the ball into the redzone. From there, Davis scampered 14 yards to give the Razorbacks the 7-0 lead.

-      Following the score, quarterback Jarrett Lee stepped in for his first action. After a misthrown pass on a wide receiver screen, the drive stalled. A sign of the times, Helton’s punt struck the CBS camera line that is strung over the field.


Second Quarter:

-      Jordan Jefferson’s 13-yard scramble on 3rd-and-9 moved the chains and kept LSU’s first scoring drive alive.

-      -  After a 32-yard pass to Terrance Toliver and a 24-yard pass to Kadron Boone, LSU ties the game at 7-7 with a five-yard touchdown rush by Stevan Ridley. For the first time all game, the LSU offense looked unafraid to attack downfield.

-      LSU forces a punt and sends Jefferson back to the field, but the Tigers are forced into a decision when the drive stalls at midfield. Faced with 4th-and-1, Miles elected to punt the ball away.

-      The LSU defense quickly forced Arkansas into a 3rd-and-9, but Mallett found Cobi Hamilton for a short gain that ultimately resulted in an 85-yard touchdown when safety Karnell Hatcher whiffed on the sideline hit. The missed opportunity came one play after Hatcher pulled up short of an interception on a pass intended for Jarius Wright.

-      Patrick Peterson returns the ensuing kick 55 yards, setting LSU up with starting field position at the Arkansas 42-yard line.

-      After a 13-yard scramble by Jefferson moved the ball to the 30-yard line, LSU used seven plays – including a three-yard touchdown by Ridley on an option run – to tie the score at 14-14.

-      After LSU forced a punt and retook possession at their 30-yard line, the pace quickened.

-      Swing No. 1: LSU fumbles on 3rd-and-10, giving Arkansas the ball 21 yards out from the goalline.

-      Swing No. 2: LSU’s Mo Claiborne intercepts Mallett on the next snap, snagging the pass in the endzone for a touchback.

-      Swing No. 3: Arkansas forces a punt and takes over the ball with six seconds before the half. Their one play: an 80-yard touchdown strike from Mallett to Hamilton. Once more it was Hatcher to blame, this time after the LSU safety missed the hit on Hamilton, in turn knocking Claiborne out of the play. With a blocker in front of him, Hamilton outraced Patrick Peterson and went in for the score with no time left on the clock. Halftime: Arkansas 21, LSU 14

LSU Stat Leaders:

-      Jordan Jefferson: 9-of-16, 130 yards

-      Stevan Ridley: 11 touches, 65 yards, 2 touchdowns

-      Stevan Ridley: 3 catches, 10 yards

-      Karnell Hatcher: 7 total tackles


Third Quarter:

-      After a 54-yard return by Peterson, LSU gets the ball first and drives for a quick Jasper field goal. The big moment came when Miles went for it on 4th-and-1 at the Arkansas 37-yard line, seeing Jefferson keep it up the middle for the first down. LSU is 11-of-12 on fourth down conversions this season.

-      Forced to punt after a three-and-out, Arkansas took a step in the wrong direction when punter Dylan Breeding mishandled a perfect snap and was unable to get the ball away. KeKe Mingo and Co. wrapped up Breeding inside the Arkansas 10-yard line, where the Tigers took over with 1st-and-goal.

-      On 3rd-and-goal, LSU offensive coordinator Gary Crowton went for a personal favorite: the fade from three yards out. The pass was intended for tight end Deangelo Peterson but was broken up by Tramain Thomas. Once again, LSU settled for three points.

-      Down 21-20, LSU swung the momentum in their direction when freshman Eric Reid intercepted Mallett on first down. The pick was Reid’s first of his career.

-      Unable to capitalize on the turnover, LSU punted the ball back to Arkansas just before the end of the third quarter.


Fourth Quarter:

-      The Razorbacks capped off an 11-play, 80-yard drive in style, scoring six points on a fourth-down pass play. After a timeout by Arkansas, Mallett came out throwing on 4th-and-3, able to connect with Joe Adams on a double-move in one-on-one coverage with freshman cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.

-      LSU slipped behind the eight ball even further on the following possession, going three-and-out after Jefferson’s pass to Peterson on a tight end drag route was snuffed out short of the first down.

-      Up 28-20, Arkansas turned to the ground game to bury LSU. From the 12:12 mark to the 6:09 mark, the Razorbacks rushed it 10 times on a 13-play drive that spanned 88 yards. Davis was stopped short of the goalline on his final rush, forcing Arkansas to settle for three points.

-      Down by double-digits, LSU took over at the 38-yard line and worked the ball deep into Arkansas territory on four straight completions. Three straight rushes followed, giving LSU 1st-and-goal at the 8-yard line. After an incomplete pass to Spencer Ware, center P.J. Lonergan snapped the ball too soon, sending it over Jefferson’s head in the process. Jefferson scooped up the loose ball for a loss of 19 yards. As a result, LSU – for the third time in the half – had to settle for three points.

-      Trailing by a touchdown and two-point conversion with 1:58 left, LSU went for the onside kick. Arkansas recovered, but the Razorbacks weren’t in the clear quite yet.

-      On the first play Davis rushed for a two-yard loss, and LSU immediately called their final timeout. On the following play, Davis attempted to stay on the ground with an injury. As a result, the officials blew the whistle and charged Arkansas with a timeout – much to the dismay of Bobby Petrino and his staff. With the clock stopped, Arkansas ran a final play on third down, called their final timeout and then punted the ball back to LSU.

-      Peterson fielded the punt at the LSU 12-yard line, but an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty moved the ball back half the distance to the goal. Jefferson was only able to get off a pair of snaps before being sacked in the endzone. He fumbled the ball on the play, and the Razorbacks recovery sealed LSU’s fate.

-      Final Score: 31-23


LSU Stat Leaders:

-      Jordan Jefferson: 16-of-27, 184 yards

-      Stevan Ridley: 17 carries, 75 yards, 2 touchdowns

-      Terrance Toliver: 3 catches, 41 yards

-      Karnell Hatcher: 10 total tackles, four solo   

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