In a rare early season matchup between the SEC West foes, LSU and Arkansas battled it out for the Golden Boot Trophy and once again, this rivalry did not disappoint. The LSU Tigers outlasted the Arkansas Razorbacks by a final score of 34-31.
Two of the SEC’s top quarterbacks in Jayden Daniels and KJ Jefferson went head-to-head after not playing last year, and both signal callers put on a show. After setting a LSU single game record in completion percentage last week against Mississippi State, Daniels had another great performance completing 20 of 29 passes for 320 yards and four touchdowns to one interception while rushing for 36 yards on the ground. Meanwhile, Jefferson certainly kept up with his counterpart by completing 21 of 31 passes for 289 yards and three touchdowns to two interceptions while also using his dynamic ability to run with 48 yards on the ground. Overall, both offenses combined for 935 total yards throughout the game.
“He was out of rhythm. If you watch him a little bit, his drop was a little off and he was rushing into his throws. We just kept reminding him to pick up his rhythm and to be a lot quicker, which is how he played and has played. Once he was able to speed up his drop, he was in a much better rhythm, and it took off from there. His third quarter drive was one of his best, if not the best. If it was not his best, then I cannot remember another drive. They did everything in that first drive of the third quarter. They ran cover two and tried to trap it. They ran man and overhang stunts, and he was outstanding. His precision, his decision making, protection checks, delivering the ball, and that is what we expect to see from him. He played to a high standard in the final three quarters, and we needed it.”LSU HC Brian Kelly on Jayden Daniels’ performance
Both Daniels and Jefferson also had great receiving performances from their receivers. When given the opportunity, Daniels found Malik Nabers (8 catches for 130 yards and 2 TDs) and Brian Thomas Jr. (5 catches for 133 yards and 2 TDs) often as the receiving pair combined for 13 catches for 266 yards and four touchdowns.
“I feel like when they double Malik, it opens things up. More one on ones for me through the air. We just have to go out there and win our one-on-ones when given chances to go ahead and make the play.”LSU WR Brian Thomas on his impact on the offense with Malik as WR1
Daniels had great contributions from his two top receivers, but Arkansas got a breakout performance from freshman tight end Luke Hasz, who had six catches for 112 yards and two touchdowns. Both of Hasz’s touchdown catches came late in the game.
It was a back and forth offensive show in the second half as 42 combined points were scored in the final 30 minutes. In this type of game, it was going to come down to whoever had the ball last and fortunately for LSU, they took advantage of Arkansas having to burn three timeouts in the second half and kept the ball for the final five minutes after Arkansas tied the game at 31.
LSU left just eight seconds for kicker Damian Ramos to score the go-ahead field goal at 34-31 with five seconds left to play. Jefferson had one final chance with the ball, but the Hail Mary attempt was intercepted by Zy Alexander.
As good as the offenses were in the second half, both defenses had pretty good first halves as both units forced back-to-back interceptions early in a low scoring first quarter. Former LSU cornerback Dwight McGlothern intercepted Daniels, but Jefferson returned the favor by throwing an interception to Andre Sam.
As a whole, LSU got off to a slow, sluggish start trailing 13-3 with just under a minute left to go until halftime as Jefferson threw a 19 yard touchdown pass to Tyrone Bolden to put the Razorbacks up by 10.
However, that was when the LSU offense finally got its spark when Daniels took advantage of 1 on 1 coverage and found Brian Thomas Jr. for a 49-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to three at 13-10. The Tigers defense also put an exclamation point before halftime as Harold Perkins Jr. made a big hit on Jefferson the last play of the second quarter.
Daniels used that momentum from the score right before half and took another deep shot to Brian Thomas Jr. for another 49 yard touchdown strike. The Tigers’ veteran signal caller used a hard count and a free play to take a shot. Even though the pass was underthrown, the big play wide receiver did a great job of tracking the football as well as showed good concentration by juggling the pass and then preceding to outrunning the Razorback defenders to give LSU their first lead of the night at 17-13.
After giving up a field goal on the ensuing possession, the Tigers’ offense started to heat up by scoring on its third consecutive drive. This time, the offense relied on the ground game for a methodical nine play, 75 yard drive that was capped off by Daniels’ third touchdown pass of the night to Malik Nabers to extend LSU’s lead at 24-16.
Heading into the fourth quarter, the crowd noise was affecting the Razorbacks as the offense had a couple of false starts and also had to burn its final timeout, but Jefferson silenced the LSU crowd by escaping the pocket and finding a wide-open Luke Krosz for a 59-yard touchdown. Jefferson was able to find Krosz again in the back of the end zone for the game tying two-point conversion at 24 a piece.
Then, it was LSU’s turn for a response and boy, did they respond. Daniels drove the Tigers 75 yards down the field where he threw his best football of the night in the back corner of the end zone to his favorite target Malik Nabers. This was Nabers’ second touchdown catch of the night and the Tigers retook the lead at 31-24.
On third down and 18, it looked as if LSU’s defense was going to get off the field, but a roughing the passer penalty called against Harold Perkins Jr. gave the Razorbacks new life. A play later, Jefferson found a wide open Krosz for the second straight drive to once again tie the game at 31.
What happened after that was a clutch five-minute drive by Daniels followed by a clutch 20 yard field goal attempt by Ramos to ice the game for the Tigers on the team’s fifth straight scoring drive.
This game has not been for the faint of heart as both teams give it all they got in this rivalry. Case in point, this is the fourth straight year that the game came down to three points.
Although the pass defense had a rough first half, the Tigers had a couple of bright spots in the win. Greg Penn, and Whit Weeks filled in beautifully at linebacker for Omar Speights, who missed action for the second straight week. Both linebackers combined for over 20 tackles. Andre Sam also had his best performance of his LSU career with seven tackles, a half tackle for loss, and an interception. The Tigers’ pass rush was effective at times bringing the big, physical Arkansas quarterback down three times for sacks. Perkins, Da’Shawn Womack, Greg Penn, Whit Weeks, and Mekhi Wingo all had sacks tonight.
The home crowd also made a difference by not only forcing Arkansas to burn its three second timeouts early in the second half, but forcing the road team to commit 11 penalties.
It was not a complete victory for LSU on both sides of the ball, but it was good enough to squeak by a desperate and hungry Arkansas team that was coming off a loss.
“It’s just the nature of two teams that in proximity are playing for a rivalry trophy. We told our team that they were going to play their very best. Hats off to Sam Pittman, they played an outstanding game. Again, this is one of those games that you have to find a way to win. We didn’t have our best performance early on. We really played well towards the end of the first half and in the second half in particular on offense. Defensively, there is a lot that we need to continue to get better. All in all, happy with the victory.”LSU HC Brian Kelly
#12 ranked LSU will improve to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in what is a wide-open SEC West. The Tigers will go on the road to face off against the Ole Miss Rebels. Meanwhile, Arkansas will fall to 2-2 and will return home to play Texas A&M.
Check out the photos from our lead LSU photographer Billy Metcalf! The full photo gallery will be posted soon!
Offensive Cumulative Stats
|NET TOTAL YARDS||426||509|
|NET RUSHING YARDS||137||189|
|Average Per Rush||3.7||6.5|
|NET PASSING YARDS||289||320|
|Avg Per Completion||13.8||16.0|
|TOTAL 1ST DOWNS||25||26|
|Rushing 1st Downs||9||9|
|Passing 1st Downs||13||14|
|Penalty 1st Downs||3||3|
Offense Efficiency Comparison:
|RED ZONE ATTEMPTS||5-5||4-4|
|Red Zone Points||23||20|
|RZ TDs Rush-Pass||0-2||0-2|
|RZ FG Made-Att||3-3||2-2|
|Pts Off Turns||0||0|
Special Teams Comparison:
|Tackles for Loss||2||6|
Arkansas Field Goals:
|TOTAL||3-3||LONG OF 40|
Arkansas All Purpose Yards:
|27||Paul Jr.,Chris (LB)||8||3||0||0||0||0||0||0|
Arkansas Punt Returns:
Arkansas Kick Returns:
Arkansas Team Stats By Quarter:
Arkansas Scoring Summary:
|1||05:56||FG||Little,Cam 23 yd Field Goal||12/51/06:53||0-3|
|2||06:33||FG||Little,Cam 23 yd Field Goal||12/75/06:51||0-6|
|2||00:48||TD||PASS||Broden,Tyrone 19 yd reception thrown by Jefferson,KJ||8/75/03:14||3-13|
|3||05:44||FG||Little,Cam 40 yd Field Goal||15/53/08:16||17-16|
|4||14:11||TD||PASS||Hasz,Luke 59 yd reception thrown by Jefferson,KJ||6/75/02:29||24-24|
|4||05:06||TD||PASS||Hasz,Luke 11 yd reception thrown by Jefferson,KJ||10/75/04:37||31-31|
LSU Field Goals:
|TOTAL||2-2||LONG OF 24|
LSU All Purpose Yards:
|30||Penn III,Greg (LB)||12||3||1||1||0||1||0||0|
|4||Perkins Jr.,Harold (LB)||5||3||1||1.5||0||0||0||2|
LSU Punt Returns:
LSU Kick Returns:
LSU Team Stats By Quarter:
LSU Scoring Summary:
|2||04:02||FG||Ramos,Damian 24 yd Field Goal||8/68/02:31||3-6|
|2||00:30||TD||PASS||Thomas Jr.,Brian 49 yd reception thrown by Daniels,Jayden||3/75/00:18||10-13|
|3||14:00||TD||PASS||Thomas Jr.,Brian 49 yd reception thrown by Daniels,Jayden||3/75/01:00||17-13|
|3||01:40||TD||PASS||Nabers,Malik 8 yd reception thrown by Daniels,Jayden||9/75/04:04||24-16|
|4||09:43||TD||PASS||Nabers,Malik 20 yd reception thrown by Daniels,Jayden||10/75/04:28||31-24|
|4||00:05||FG||Ramos,Damian 20 yd Field Goal||9/72/05:01||34-31|