Rapid Reaction: Arkansas outlasts LSU in OT to grab Golden Boot
Arkansas celebrated heartily when coach Sam Pittman and his team became bowl eligible last week.
Now, not only do the Razorbacks have their bowl, they also have the boot.
Saturday night in Baton Rouge, Arkansas outlasted rival LSU 16-13 in overtime to capture the Golden Boot trophy for the program’s first win over the Tigers since 2015.
In overtime, Arkansas won the toss and elected to start on defense. Garrett Nussmaier hit Malik Nabers for a 24-yard catch on 3rd and 20 on LSU’s drive to start OT. But Arkansas defensive back Montaric Brown stepped in front of LSU receiver Devonta Lee in the end zone for an interception.
Arkansas stayed safe with its playcalling in its OT drive, setting up Cam Little’s 37-yard field goal to win it.
Late in the fourth quarter, LSU took over at its 5-yard line and without left tackle Cameron Wire, who left with a right leg injury in the second half. They drove near midfield but the Tigers punted and Arkansas kneeled on the ball to take the game to OT.
Arkansas denied LSU on 4th down and 3 from the Razorbacks’ 38-yard line to take possession with 5:58 left in the game. But an illegal formation penalty wiped out what would have been a 4th-down conversion for the Razorbacks and Reid Bauer punted.
The Razorbacks rolled the dice with a fake field goal late in the third quarter and made it pay off as holder/punter Bauer took the snap and ran 23 yards. But the drive stalled and Little’s 28-yard field goal put Arkansas ahead 13-10 with 37 seconds left in the third.
On LSU’s ensuing drive, Tyrion Davis-Price barely got the 1 yard needed to convert on 4th down at the Arkansas 30-yard line, leading to Cade York’s 45-yard field goal to tie it 13-13 with 10:53 left. Davis-Price ran for 106 yards for the Tigers.
Arkansas (7-3, 3-3 SEC), No. 25 in the College Football Playoff rankings, struggled on offense for much of the game but finally punched it into the end zone with 6:01 left in the third quarter. KJ Jefferson spun his way out of the grasp of linebacker Damone Clark’s clutches and found Dominique Johnson wide open for a 43-yard scoring pass. That capped a 5-play, 63-yard drive.
Jefferson wound up with 142 passing yards and a touchdown, plus 41 yards rushing on 15 carries.
On the first Arkansas drive of the second half, Jefferson scrambled for 15 yards on 3rd down, then 3 plays later he converted another 3rd down with an 11-yard scamper. But when the Razorbacks went for it on 4th down at the LSU 38-yard line, Clark took down Jefferson for a sack.
LSU (4-6, 2-5) led 10-3 at halftime and outgained the Razorbacks 136-101.
LSU quarterback Max Johnson played the first two drives then was replaced by Nussmeier, the freshman, in the first half. Tigers coach Ed Orgeron had said before the game that the plan was for the two QBs to split time against Arkansas, but by halftime he told ESPN that Nussmeier would go the distance. Johnson was 3-for-7 for 21 yards.
LSU started its first drive of the second quarter in Arkansas territory after a somewhat short punt. From the 40-yard line, the Tigers needed just 3 plays to score, on Nussmeier’s 29-yard TD pass to Jack Bech. Nussmeier spun away from trouble and found Bech in the corner of the end zone.
Nussmeier was in when the Tigers drove for their first score. York’s 34-yard field goal for LSU tied the score at 3-3 with 1:47 left in the first quarter.
Arkansas opened the scoring with Little’s 48-yard field goal to cap the first Razorbacks drive.