Depleted down to just 55 scholarship players available for the Saturday afternoon matchup against LSU, the Razorbacks played a close game with plenty of explosive plays but fell one drive short to fall 27-24.
The first half of the game played right into LSU’s hands with the Tigers dominating in time of possession, plays and yards. With Arkansas down six defensive linemen, 69% of their front line snaps, the Razorbacks needed to keep their offense on their field–but poor execution on the majority of their first half drives dashes those hopes.
The Tigers and Hogs exchanged scoreless opening drives but LSU found their rhythm first, enough to knock through a 49-yard field goal. Defensive tackle Jonathan Marshall got the stop and pressure that led to limiting them to just three points on the drive and the TFL made it six straight games for the senior with a TFL.
Playing with tempo on their fourth drive, Feleipe Franks took a deep shot on the right side to Treylon Burks who scampered for the 65-yard touchdown and picked up his 1,000th receiving yard, becoming the 32nd Razorback to do it.
Arkansas got the Tigers to 4th and 3 on the next drive, aided by a Jalen Catalon TFL and stop on a TJ Finley run, but Finley completed to tight end Arik Gilbert to extend it. Tiger Racey McMath beat freshman walk-on Hudson Clark for a 30-yard touchdown completion to make it 10-7 LSU at the beginning of the second quarter.
Needing an answer, the Hogs went 3-and-out after picking up five yards. On the Tigers’ next drive, Joe Foucha forced a fumble inside LSU territory, but the officials ruled there was no clear recovery, keeping the ball in LSU possession.
After an incredulous response from fans and the commentators, the Arkansas defense proved the age old adage: Ball don’t lie. Swarming to Terrace Marshall on a pass, Montaric Brown forced another fumble, recovered by freshman safety Myles Slusher–his second fumble recovery of the season. That marked takeaway No. 17 for the Razorbacks.
Franks completes a ball to Mike Woods on the next drive and Woods gets hit hard by LSU corner Elias Ricks. Ricks gets called for targeting after arguably, very clearly taunting Woods, and just like that the Tigers lose their interceptions leader for the game. Hogs don’t capitalize on the penalty however and Franks gets sacked for a loss of six by Andre Anthony.
LSU gave the ball back to Arkansas after a 3-and-out but Franks committed his first big mistake since Ole Miss, hitting linebacker Jabril Cox underneath instead of Trey Knox who was free over the top.
Running back Ty Davis-Price rushes it in from the one to make it 17-7 LSU… but not for long. Franks found Woods for a 50 yard gain, Woods drew PI on the next call for a few more yards and Franks scrambled in a score from 10 yards out. 17-14 Hogs with 3:44 to play in the half.
LSU drained the rest of the clock on the next drive, converting two third downs before kicking through a 24-yarder to make it 20-14 at the half.
Arkansas had 25 plays in the first half to LSU’s 52 and they were outgained 276 yards to 182. Time of possession at the half: LSU 21:52, Arkansas 8:08. Finley finished the first half 17-25 with a score while Franks was 6 of 12 with one touchdown, one interception. The Razorbacks picked up just 32 rushing yards on 13 attempts, playing without Rakeem Boyd. Catalon and Grant Morgan tied with eight tackles a piece at the half.
The Tigers had the ball for almost the entire third quarter, mounting a drive down outside the Arkansas redzone but a holding penalty gave them 2nd and long, which they couldn’t convert.
LSU punted and pinned the Hogs down at the four but six plays and 1:30 later, they were in the Tigers’ endzone. Franks launched a 29-yard 50-50 ball for Woods, Smith picked up five yards, Franks completed to Trey Knox for nine and then… a beauty, Franks completed a 50 yard ball down the middle to Woods, downed at the two. A completed pass to Hudson Henry gave the Hogs 2nd and 1, setting Trelon Smith up for his second score of the season.
Arkansas took the lead over LSU for the first time since 2015. 21-20 with 1:04 left on the clock.
Two incomplete passes by Finley on the Tigers’ next drive forced them to punt the ball back to Arkansas just before the fourth quarter.
From the Arkansas 8, Franks heaved the ball, taking a big hit in the process, 51 yards to TJ Hammonds. The clock flipped and after a 6-yard rush by Franks, he completed another pass to Hammonds who picked up 29 on the run. The Razorbacks had chances at the 6 but a slip by Franks on third down forced them to kick the 22-yard field goal for three. Razorbacks led 24-20 after a scoreless third quarter and just an additional 5:44 of possession.
The Tigers got moving on their next drive but again, aa holding penalty on the LSU offensive line put them in 3rd and long, negating a 35-yard gain as well. Finley picked up eight but Morgan’s 17th tackle of the game stopped him far shy of the first down, forcing a punt to the Arkansas 7 with 9:20 left to play.
After three rushes by Franks, the ball was marked good for the first down but Ed Orgeron chose to challenge the spot, overturning the call. Reid Bauer’s punt was returned to the LSU 33 with 7:30 to play.
Finley began the next drive with a rush for no gain then completed a pass to freshman Kayshon Boutte. Catalon came in with a hit on the play and was called for targeting despite the hit not quite meeting the definition: “targeting defenseless opponents above the shoulders or using the crown of the helmet to contact an opponent.” The redshirt freshman safety was ejected and he’ll have to miss the first half against Missouri, barring an appeal.
Despite an intentional grounding call the put the Tigers at 2nd and goal from the 13, Finley found Jaray Jenkins for a score, regaining the lead with 3:59 to play. LSU 27, Arkansas 24.
LSU’s time of possession, over 40 minutes, is the most against the Razorbacks this season.
With the clock ticking down, Franks completes two balls, one to Smith and one to Burks, for two first downs. He’s downed for no gain, sacked for a loss of six then Franks scrambles to give the Hogs options on 4th and 3. The Hogs got the first down with a completion to Tyson Morris but two incomplete passes with three yards to gain forced them to put it in the hands of kicker AJ Reed.
Reed’s attempt from 44 yards out was blocked and the Tigers ran out the clock for the 27-24 win in Fayetteville.
Arkansas had the ball for just 18 minutes and 53 plays to LSU’s 91. They were 0-10 on third down and in the end, they couldn’t finish the winning drive, hurt once again by special teams.
After finding a home in Baton Rouge for four straight seasons, the Golden Boot will stay for yet another year. Arkansas is now 11-19 against LSU since joining the SEC and they move to 3-5 on the season with Missouri and Alabama remaining.