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Freshman’s Late Heroics Carry LSU Past Arkansas, 31-27

Stacy Revere/Getty Images Sport

It seems regardless of the strength of the teams, Arkansas always seems to play LSU tough.

And, it happened again Friday.

But, at the end, it was a Tiger’s victory, 31-27 over the Razorbacks at Tiger Stadium.

And, it was a couple of freshman who got it done.

Breaux Bridge native Travin Dural caught a 49 yard pass from backup quarterback Anthony Jennings with 1:15 remaining to cap an eight play, 99 yard drive for the win.

Jennings had to take over when Zach Mettenberger  injured his knee following a sack on the previous series and, after an Arkansas punt  by Sam Erwin Hill was good for 65 yards, LSU was pinned  back at its one yard line with three minutes left.  Jennings hit Dillon Gordon to the 18 and Jarvis Landry to the 29.  Jennings then ran the football for 22 yards to the Arkansas 49 with 1:46 to go.

Two plays resulted in an incompletion and a pass to Jeremy Hill for no gain before Jennings, following LSU’s final time out, found Dural wide open for the touchdown against Jared Collins.

Arkansas had one last chance with 1:09 to go, but quarterback Brandon Allen was sacked by Duane Thomas and LSU recovered Allen’s fumble to seal the win.

LSU got on the board first on their second possession of the game, with Terrance McGee scoring from 23 yards out.  A  Mettenberger pass to Odell Beckham, Jr. and a fifteen yard pass to Jarvis Landry were the big plays in the drive and LSU led 7-0.

But two possessions later, the Razorbacks countered as Javontee Herndon’s 43 yard run set up a Brandon Allen pass to Hunter Henry good for nine yards and a 7-7 tie.

Arkansas got a 32 yard run from Korliss Marshall LSU forced a turnover on Arkansas’ next possession to give Arkansas a chance at the LSU 32, but the threat came up empty as Jalen Mills intercepted an Allen pass in the end zone.  The Tigers, however, turned it right back over five plays later when Mettenberger  fumbled after a Mitchell Bray sack at the LSU 28.  The Hogs moved the ball down inside the LSU 5, but had to settle for a Zach Hocker field goal from 20 yards to take a 17-14 lead into the locker room.

Arkansas dominated the second quarter and outgained LSU 238 yards to 166 in the first half.

LSU turned it over again with its first possession of the third quarter as Alan Turner intercepted Mettenberger at the Arkansas 37 and returned it to the LSU 39.  The LSU defense stiffened at the eleven yard line and Arkansas was again forced to settle for a Hocker field goal as the Razorbacks went up by six.

Forcing the Hogs to settle for three on those two possessions proved important for LSU as the Tigers’ Jeremy Hill scampered 52 yards on the next possession to give LSU a 21-20 lead midway through the third quarter.

Arkansas, however, came right back with an impressive 15 play, 65 yard drive with Allen hitting Henry with his second touchdown pass, this one from two yards out to give the Razorbacks a 27-21 lead in the final minute of the third quarter.  The drive was aided by an offside penalty from Anthony Johnson on fourth down which allowed Arkansas to keep the drive alive.

The Tigers then turned to Jeremy Hill and it appeared the Tigers were going to put a drive together to take the lead.  Hill carried six times for 39 yards in the drive, but lost a yard on third and one from the Arkansas 17, and came up a yard short on fourth down on a pass from Mettenberger and LSU turned it over on downs.

The Tigers forced a three and out and got the ball back on their own 34 yard line with just over seven minutes left.  Mettenberger hit Jarvis Landry for 13 yards and then the LSU wideout made a spectacular catch for another 32 yards to the Arkansas 21.  But Mettenberger was hit on the play and had to leave the game with the injury.   Jennings came in at quarterback for LSU and the Tigers were promptly hit with a false start penalty.  Hill and Jennings combined for six yards before Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 37 yard field goal to get the Tigers within three with 4:56 left.

Mettenberger, in his  final game at Tiger Stadium, completed 14-22 passes for 156 yards.  He was intercepted one and sacked three times.  Jennings was 4-7 for 76 yards and the touchdown.

Jeremy Hill led the Tigers with 145 yards on 20 carries, the sixth time that he gained 100 or more yards this season.

LSU finishes the regular season 9-3 and will now wait to find out where they will play their bowl game.  The Tigers will have a chance to win their tenth game for the fourth straight year, something never before accomplished at LSU.

Arkansas, under first year coach Bret Bielema, lost their ninth straight game to finish the season 3-9, 0-8 in the SEC.

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