Hollywood Ending

It doesn't get much more improbable than that. Freshman QB Anthony Jennings led LSU on a 99-yard, game-winning touchdown drive to steal a 31-27 victory from Arkansas in Tiger Stadium on Friday.

If you turned what happened in Tiger Stadium on Friday into a screenplay, Hollywood would reject it for being too unbelievable.

A backup, freshman quarterback mounting a 99-yard, game-winning touchdown drive with three minutes remaining? Most would say impossible. Anthony Jennings, that aforementioned freshman quarterback, never had a doubt.

"I just said, ‘Let's go. It's time to go 99 yards.'' Jennings said after LSU's miraculous 31-27 victory against Arkansas. "There was no doubt in my mind that we were going to get it."

Factor in that Jennings was missing Odell Beckham and two starting offensive linemen to injury, and the odds were even more stacked against him. Before Friday, Jennings' most meaningful playing time came in occasional QB sneaks or cleaning up in garbage time.

Nobody knew how he'd respond to replacing Zach Mettenberger, who suffered a gruesome knee injury midway through the fourth quarter. His first series resulted in a field goal that cut the deficit at the time to three, and that inspired some confidence from the LSU faithful.

But after Arkansas punter Sam Irwin-Hill pinned LSU inches away from its own goal line, no one would have blamed Jennings for not overcoming the massive hurdle that stood in front of him.

"I've got to tell you something," said a relieved Les Miles after the contest. "If you would've told me that was the scenario, I'd have said, ‘No way.''

Dural reeled in the game-winning touchdown (USA Today)
The incomprehensible touchdown drive started simply enough, an easy QB sneak up the middle to get LSU out of the goalpost's shadow. Then Jennings stood tall from his own end zone and fired a 16-yard completion to Dillon Gordon.

His next pass fell incomplete, before he found Jarvis Landry for another big gain, this time for 11 yards. Jennings dropped back again on the next play, but the pocket collapsed around him. Still, Jennings found a way and scrambled 21 yards to cross midfield.

"I got flushed out of the pocket, and I just had to make a play," Jennings said. "It wasn't anything other than that. You can't get sacked in those opportunities."

But LSU got zilch out of its next two plays, and that led to a timeout with 1:22 remaining, facing a third-and-10 from the Arkansas 49. That's when Cam Cameron dialed up the perfect play. LSU lined Travin Dural out wide against redshirt fresman Jared Collins.

The rest was about as simple as a 100-meter dash.

Dural sprinted past Collins, leaving him trailing by about five yards. Jennings placed the ball into Dural's outstretched hands, and after a few more steps, LSU came out with a 31-27 lead with only 1:15 remaining.

"It was a great ball, perfect ball," Dural said. "He couldn't have thrown it better. I was just thinking that I had to make a play on it. I've been waiting for that moment all my life, and I couldn't let that pass."

Arkansas still had a hope and a prayer though. The Hogs got off an 11-yard pass and seven-yard run before calling timeout with 45 seconds left.

Then LSU dialed up the blitz, and Dwayne Thomas chased down Arkansas QB Brandon Allen, stripping the ball in the process, forcing the game-clinching fumble.

"This group, there's just something about them," Miles said. "They're competitive, they want to play, make plays. No matter what the scenario, I would never count them out."

There were many though that had done exactly that. LSU had played mostly uninspiring football for the majority of that game against a team that hadn't yet won a SEC game this season. The Tigers allowed 360 yards to a team that ranks 11th in the conference in total offense.

LSU's own offense had given away two turnovers, and seemed somewhat lost without Beckham. After LSU scored touchdowns on each of its first two possessions, the Tigers next four drives before halftime resulted in two punts, a fumble and an interception.

Jermauria Rasco recovered the clinching fumble (USA Today)
"We got into some miscommunication," Landry said. "We had trouble protecting Zach, and we can't turn the ball over either. That swayed the momentum to their side."

Those struggles allowed Arkansas to take a 17-14 lead into halftime. The Razorback's firs two drives in the second half resulted in 10 points.

But when the Tigers needed it most, the defense stepped up. Trailing 27-21 with 9:20 to go, LSU forced a three-and-out and the Jennings-led offense responded with a field goal. The next series ended the same way for Arkansas, but this time LSU answered back with seven.

"We just felt a sense of urgency," said senior Lamin Barrow, who played his final game in Tiger Stadium. "We knew the game was going to come back to us as a defense. We just had to be able to pull it together."

The rest was history.

No one knows what will happen next, whether it be LSU's bowl destination or the future of Jennings' career. The only certainty is that LSU won Friday night in thrilling fashion, and that left even the quotable Miles at a loss for how to describe it.

"What a game," Miles said. "You guys got your money's worth didn't you?"


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