Arkansas collapses late against No. 15 LSU, 31-27
BATON ROUGE, La. (AP)
Arkansas coach Bret Bielema could almost taste his first Southeastern Conference triumph, not to mention an upset of a 15th-ranked team.
His team led with just more than 3 minutes remaining and LSU was pinned on its own 1-yard line with freshman backups at both quarterback and center.
Bielema then watched as Anthony Jennings quickly marched LSU to midfield and connected with Travin Dural for the go-ahead, 49-yard touchdown to give LSU a 31-27 victory over Arkansas on Friday.
''How do I feel?'' Bielema said. ''I'm numb. I'm frustrated and wanted to have some good feelings heading into the offseason. Our coaches and players gave up a lot to come here and I know where we are going to go. I just wanted to give these seniors that Golden Boot trophy and see them run across the field. I wanted to see them celebrate. I wanted our guys to taste it.
''I grew up on a farm. You didn't want certain animals to taste blood because once they taste blood you have got to kill them because they will keep coming back for it. I think our players will do the same once they grasp it and truly get the feeling of what beating somebody's will out of them can do to a person. It'll come, but unfortunately it won't come until next year.''
Looking for their first Southeastern Conference win and hoping to avoid their first winless season in a conference since 1942 (in the old Southwest Conference), the Razorbacks (3-9, 0-8) scored the final 10 points of the first half to take a surprising 17-14 lead. The second-quarter points came when Brandon Allen found Hunter Henry for a 9-yard touchdown pass and Zach Hocker ended the first half with a 20-yard field goal.
Jeremy Hill's 52-yard touchdown put LSU (9-3, 5-3) back in front, but Allen calmly lead Arkansas on a 15-play, 75-yard touchdown drive that culminated with a two-yard touchdown pass to Henry to put the Razorbacks back up 27-21.
Later Arkansas, knocked LSU starting quarterback Zach Mettenberger out of the game with less than 7 minutes remaining, but not until his last pass - on which Jarvis Landry made a circus catch over a defender - helped set up Colby Delahoussaye's 37-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 27-24.
Still, Allen and the Razorbacks might have iced the game with one more first down. They came up a yard short on third down, but appeared to be in good shape anyway after Sam Irwin-Hill's 65-yard punt rolled down to the LSU one-yard line.
That is, until Jennings dropped back on third-and-10 and spotted Dural blazing down the sideline.
''I had confidence in my team,'' Jennings said. ''I felt like we were going to win the game. ... I don't have something to base it off of, I guess, but this one feels pretty good.''
Any hope for a last-second Arkansas comeback was thwarted when Dwayne Thomas sacked Allen and forced a fumble that was recovered by LSU's Jermauria Rasco.
''Obviously a very difficult ending to a good football game,'' Bielema said. ''I thought they locked in extremely well and played a good football game today, but again something raises up at the end that causes up to lose the game. But a lot of positives, a lot of good play. A lot of good competing. Enough positives that I'd be very shocked if the story of the 2014 season isn't anything but a positive.''
Allen finished 19-of-29 for 178 yards and a pair of touchdowns, and was intercepted once.
''This is tough for anybody,'' Allen said. ''We had it there at the end and let it slip away. You aren't supposed to lose a kind of game like that. I thought we pretty much had it going the entire game. We were clicking on offense and the running and passing game were doing some special things. We were able to put up a few points and we for sure would like to have a few more right now.''