By Chris Macaluso
Special to LSUsports.net
BATON ROUGE -- A loss in a three-overtime slugfest against Kentucky Oct. 13 knocked LSU from the nation’s top ranking earlier in the season. Friday in Tiger Stadium, another triple-overtime loss knocked the No-1 ranked Tigers from their lofty perch again.
Led by a 206-yard, three touchdown performance by All-American tailback and Heisman Trophy candidate Darren McFadden, unranked Arkansas methodically closed the door on LSU’s national championship hopes by beating the Tigers 50-48 in front of 92,606 cold and eventually emotionally chilled fans.
The loss dropped the SEC Western Division Champion Tigers to 10-2 overall, 6-2 in conference play. Arkansas improved to 8-4, 4-4 in the SEC and may have earned an invitation to a New Year's Day bowl game with the victory.
The Razorbacks rushing attack, ranked first in the SEC and fourth nationally, laid claim to the Tiger Stadium turf amassing 385 yards against the once-stingy LSU defense. Arkansas’ passing offense did not disappoint either, picking up key first downs, the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter and one of the Razorbacks’ three touchdowns in overtime. McFadden accounted for 34 of his team’s 128 passing yards and a touchdown to go with his Heisman-trophy candidate rushing performance.
He was very capably joined in the rushing onslaught by Felix Jones, who rushed for 85 yards on nine carries and the game-winning two-point conversion and Peyton Hillis, who contributed 89 yards on 11 carries and two touchdowns. Hillis also caught five passes for 62 yards and two more touchdowns. In all, the Razorbacks piled up 513 total yards.
LSU countered with exactly 100 yards less after finishing the first half with a paltry 95 yards and at least two missed scoring chances. Tigers tailback Jacob Hester turned in another warrior-like effort, gaining 126 yards on 26 carries and two touchdowns in his final game in Tiger Stadium.
Senior quarterback Matt Flynn exited Tiger Stadium for the last time as well, finishing the game with 22 completions in 47 attempts for 209 yards and three touchdowns after completing just 7-of-22 in the first half.
With his team trailing 28-21 and the game clock ticking down close to 1:00 to play on 4th-and-goal at the 2-yard line, Flynn scored what appeared to be the game-tying touchdown on a scramble through the Razorback defense. But, the play was for naught as the officials blew it dead after allowing Arkansas to take a timeout unbeknownst to everyone in the stadium but the officials. Flynn remained composed though, and threw a bullet to Demetrius Byrd in the middle of the endzone to give Colt David a chance to tie the score 28-28 and send the game into overtime with the extra point.
Flynn tried to find Byrd again in the same endzone at the end of the game to tie the score on the required two-point try in the third overtime, but his pass was intercepted by corner back Matterral Richardson allowing the Hogs to charge the field in celebration.
Byrd hauled in two touchdowns, six passes in all for 46 yards. Senior Early Doucet caught seven passes for 53 yards to lead all receivers.
The loss ended LSU's 19-game winning streak in Tiger Stadium, 19-game winning streak in the month of November, and likely the Tigers' chances at a second National Championship in five seasons.
LSU scored the overtime’s first touchdown when Flynn dashed through the Razorback defense on the third play of the possession to make the score 35-28 after the point after kick by David.
Arkansas’ path to tie the score wasn’t quite as smooth, as the Razorbacks needed seven plays and faced a 4th-and-10 and 3rd-and-8 on its way to an 11-yard pass from Dick to Hillis to tie the score at 35 after the point after.
The path to the Razorback’s next score was much smoother as Jones carried the ball 13 yards on play one, then McFadden carried the ball nine yards on play two for the touchdown giving Arkansas the touchdown edge at 42-35.
LSU responded with a five-play drive that tied the score again. Hester claimed the final two yards of the possession, diving through the Arkansas defense and giving David the chance to tie the score at 42.
The Razorbacks’ counter punched with a six-play drive from the 25 that was capped by a 3-yard body-blow run by Hillis. Jones picked up the rule-required two-point conversion on the next play. LSU’s Brandon LaFell scored three plays later on a 9-yard pass from Flynn, but the two-point try failed on the interception and ended the contest.
McFadden was uncharacteristically mistake prone early in the game, fumbling three times in the opening quarter, losing one. The one was on the opening kickoff and gave LSU a chance to take a 3-0 lead less than two minutes into the contest on a 32-yard field goal by David.
LSU’s second drive was about three minutes and 30 yards longer than its first but the result was the same. The Tigers took over at their 27 and drove 41 yards in 11 plays to the Arkansas 32 before stalling. David hammered a 49-yard three-pointer with a chilly north wind at his back to extend the lead to 6-0 with 7:16 remaining in the quarter.
Defensive stands by the Tigers combined with two very poor punts by Jeremy Davis allowed LSU to start its next two drives near midfield. But, the Tiger offense was anemic as well and the two advantageous starting points led to no points on the scoreboard.
LSU pinned the Razorbacks inside the 5-yard line for the start of Arkansas’ fifth drive, but a pass interference call combined with a 31-yard run by Jones quickly moved the ball into LSU territory. McFadden, playing quarterback, carried the ball untouched for the last 16 yards of the drive straight through the middle of the Tiger defense to give Arkansas a 7-6 lead with 7:33 to play in the first half. The nearly field-long march used nine plays and lasted just 3:23.
McFadden stung the Tigers again from the quarterback position early in the second half. After LSU failed to pick up two first downs on the opening possession of the first half, the Razorbacks claimed possession at their 20-yard line. Five-plays later, McFadden carried a 2nd-down-and-14 run around the left side if the LSU defense 73 yards into the north endzone, giving Arkansas a 14-6 lead with 9:49 to play in the third quarter.
But LSU responded immediately, sparked by a 33-yard return of the ensuing kickoff by Chad Jones. Flynn completed passes on the drive’s first three plays, giving Hester the chance to score LSU’s first touchdown of the game on the drive’s eighth. Hester slammed through two linebackers and a safety on a 12-yard hammer run into the south endzone with 7:48 remaining in the third quarter.
A pass interference call against Arkansas gave the Tigers two shots at tying the score on a two-point conversion that Flynn launched himself over the pilon on the right side of the endzone to convert. The touchdown and conversion tied the score 14-14.
The score didn’t stay tied for long though, as Arkansas gouged LSU’s run defense again for a big-play touchdown. This time, Hillis charged through the middle of the LSU line for a 65-yard touchdown to cap a four-play drive and put the Razorbacks up 21-14 with 5:46 to play in the third quarter.
LSU bounced back quickly again though, driving 75 yards over the next 3:18 to tie the score 21-21 on a seven yard pass from Flynn to Byrd. Flynn completed a screen pass to tailback Charles Scott for 21 yards on the drive’s sixth play then Keiland Williams contributed a 24-yard run three plays later to give the Tigers the scoring chance.
The Tigers appeared to score the go-ahead touchdown midway through the fourth quarter when Flynn delivered a 54-yard pass to Hester behind the Razorback defense. But, the play was called back on an ineligible player downfield penalty. Two plays later, LSU was forced to punt, giving Arkansas the chance to drive for the lead.
McFadden and Jones teamed up to trounce the Tigers again on the ensuing possession. Jones carried the ball 30 yards on an end around on the third play of the drive. Three plays later, McFadden faked the run then stepped back and delivered a pass to Hillis who was running alone just short of the goal line. The 24-yard touchdown pass gave the Razorbacks a 28-21 lead after the extra point with 5:06 remaining.
LSU returns to action on Satuday, Dec. 1, when the Tigers travel to Atlanta to play in their fourth SEC Championship Game since 2001. The Tigers opponent will be Tennessee.
LSU Game Notes
- Arkansas won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff. LSU received the ball to open the in the second half.
- Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: CB Chevis Jackson (38), LB Ali Highsmith (26), LT Ciron Black (25), CB Jonathan Zenon (25), LG Herman Johnson (22) and DT Glenn Dorsey (20).
- LSU honored its 25 seniors prior to the game: Will Arnold OL; Donnie Chaucer WR; Mit Cole TE; Andrew Decker OL; Glenn Dorsey DT; Early Doucet WR; Patrick Fisher P; Matt Flynn QB; Sean Gaudet PK; Jacob Hester RB; Ali Highsmith LB; Chevis Jackson CB; Shawn Jordan FB; Cole Louviere OL; Josh McManus WR; Jacob O'Hair SNP; Kirston Pittman DE; Luke Sanders LB; Robert Smith OL; Craig Steltz S; Carnell Stewart OL; Jimmy Welker QB; Jonathan Zenon CB; Anthony Zehyoue DL; Keith Zinger TE.
- The LSU Sports Information office recognized senior student worker William “Thrill” Martin from Lake Charles, La.
- Today’s attendance of 92,606 is the fourth largest crowd in Tiger Stadium history.
- LSU’s 455 points this season (including the 21 points today) ranks second in points in a season by the Tigers. The school record is 475 points set in 2003.
- Arkansas won the toss and elected to play defense on the first possession of overtime.
- LSU saw its November winning streak end at 18 games. It was the Tigers’ first loss in the month of November since Nov. 29, 2002, against Arkansas in Little Rock, Ark.
- LSU saw its home winning streak end at 19 games. That streak was the longest in the nation. The loss was the Tigers’ first home loss since Sept. 26, 2005 against Tennessee. That game was head coach Les Miles’ first contest in Tiger Stadium.
- LSU saw its winning streak against unranked opponents come to an end at 33 games. It marked the Tigers’ first loss to a non-top 25 team since losing to Florida on Oct. 11, 2003. The loss was also LSU’s first against an SEC West opponent in Tiger Stadium since losing to Alabama on Nov. 16, 2002.
- The 50-48 final score (98 points) was the highest scoring game in the history of Tiger Stadium.
- LSU fell to 6-4 in overtime games and played its second straight multi-overtime contest.
- RB Charles Scott recovered a fumble on the opening kickoff. It was the first of his career.
- PK Colt David kicked a 32-yard field goal with 13:19 left in the first quarter and hit a 49-yard field goal with 7:16 left in the first quarter. The successful kicks were the 34th and 35th of his career and 22nd and 23rd of the season.
a. David’s 49-yard field goal in the first quarter tied his career high. He also nailed a 49-yarder at Alabama his season.
b. David’s four extra points kicked in today’s game extended his consecutive PAT streak to 66, the fourth longest streak in LSU history.
- With first quarter tackles, S Craig Steltz, CB Chevis Jackson, CB Jonathan Zenon extended their streaks to 22 straight games with a tackle and DT Glenn Dorsey extended his streak to 28 straight. With a second quarter tackle, LB Ali Highsmith extended his streak to 38 straight games.
- RB Jacob Hester scored his 10th rushing touchdown of this season and the 18th of his career on 12-yard run with 7:48 left in the third quarter. Hester added his 11th rushing TD of the year and the 19th of his career on a 2-yard run in the second overtime.
a. Hester fumbled the ball on his 19th carry of the game (LSU did not lose the fumble). It was the first fumble by Hester since the first carry of his career, a span of 297.
b. Hester finished with career-highs in yards (126) and carries (28).
- QB Matt Flynn tossed his 15th touchdown pass of the season and the 25th of his career with a 7-yard strike to WR Demetrius Byrd with 2:22 left in the third quarter. Flynn added his 16th TD pass of the season and the 26th of his career on a 2-yard pass to Byrd with 0:57 left in the game.
a. Flynn recorded his fourth rushing TD of the season and the fifth of his career on a 12-yard run in the first overtime. The four rushing TDs are the most in a season by an LSU quarterback since Herb Tyler had seven in 1998.
- WR Demetrius Byrd scored his fifth receiving touchdown of the season, pulling down a 7-yard pass from QB Matt Flynn with 2:22 left in the third quarter. Byrd added his sixth receiving touchdown of the year on a 2-yard pass from Flynn with 0:57 remaining in the game. Byrd’s two TDs are a career-high.
- LB Ali Highsmith tallied a career-high 19 tackles in the contest. It marked the most tackles by an LSU player in a game since Charles Smith had 21 against Houston on Nov. 13, 1999.
Arkansas Game Notes
- Arkansas is now 18-32-2 all-time vs. LSU and 2-7-1 at Tiger Stadium. In their eighth overtime appearance, the Hogs are now 7-1 in overtime play. Today’s game marks the first overtime contest against the Tigers.
- Arkansas’ win over No. 1 LSU is the first over a top-ranked team since beating No. 1 Texas, 42-11, in 1981. The
- Hogs now hold a 4-11 record against teams ranked No. 1.
- UA’s 478 points scored this season is a new school record.
- The announced crowd of 92,606 is the sixth-largest ever the Razorbacks have played in front of.
- Darren McFadden had a well-rounded outing with 206 yards on 32 carries, 34 yards in the air (completing three of six passes) and four touchdowns (three rushing, one passing).
- On his seventh carry of day, a 12-yard gain in the second quarter, McFadden moved ahead of Auburn’s Bo Jackson (1982-85) for third place on the SEC career rushing list (4,485 yards).
- No. 5’s 206 rushing yards on 32 carries against LSU, for a season total of 4,485 yards, re-sets the single-season school record he set in 2006 with 1,647 yards.
- McFadden’s four scores move him into second all-time with 40 career touchdowns ahead of No. 3 James Rouse (39).
- McFadden’s nine-yard run for six in the second OT was the 50th touchdown the junior has been responsible for in his Razorback career. He now ranks tied for third with Quinn Grovey on UA’s all-time career touchdown responsibility list.
- No. 5’s three rushing scores move him into a tie for fourth place with Madre Hill (1995) and Bill Burnett (1968) in a single season in school history.
- His 24-yard TD pass to Hillis in the fourth quarter was his fourth passing score of the season and the seventh of his career.
- With 100-yards rushing, McFadden extends his school record for single-season 100-yard rushing games with nine. He also extends his school record with his 21st career 100-yard rushing game in 37 career games.
- No. 5’s 255 all-purpose yards against LSU, for a season total of 1,172, breaks his own school record of 2,058 all-purpose yards in 2006.
- With 262 points in his 37-game career, McFadden sits at fifth all-time in career scoring passing PK Todd Latourette.
- With Marcus Monk’s five-yard second-quarter reception, he has now caught at least one pass in all 41 of his career starts and 41-of-42 career games. He ended the day with two catches and 12 yards.
- Hillis’ third quarter 65-yard touchdown run was his first rushing score of the season, 11th of his career and his longest career run, replacing his previous long rush of 42 yards against LSU in 2004. The 65-yard rush also replace his previous season long of 14 yards against Troy.
- Hillis ended the day with 89 yards rushing on 11 carries, 62 yards receiving on five catches and four TDs (two rushing, two receiving).
- Alex Tejada was seven-of-seven on PATs against the Tigers, scoring seven points. He now holds UA’s single-season kick scoring record with 109 points passing Kendall Trainor’s 102 points in 1988.
- Arkansas used the WildHog offense early and often against the Tigers. The Hogs lined up in the formation 11 times in the first half earning 67 yards (62 rushing, five passing) including McFadden’s 16-yard rushing touchdown to give Arkansas the lead in the second quarter.
- In the second half, UA used the WildHog for 15 plays, amassing 216 yards and three TDs.
- In overtime, UA lined up in the WildHog for five plays, gaining 11 yards on the ground.
- Arkansas’ nine-play 97-yard scoring drive in the second quarter was the Razorbacks’ longest scoring drive of the season. The Hogs’ previous long was a six-play 84-yard drive that culminated in a touchdown against Alabama. Arkansas also had a nine-play 84-yard drive for a score at Tennessee.
LSU HEAD COACH LES MILES QUOTES
On the loss...
“This team is not happy. We understand that this cost us and what was at stake. We now have to look forward to playing another game, a very important game and one that is much bigger than the one we just played. That is what we have to focus on.”
On the performance of Arkansas RB Darren McFadden...
“I knew how good he was – I watched him a year ago. I was not surprised; I was surprised how successful he was against us, but not about the running back. He has a great combination of power and speed. If he is not the first player taken at his position I would be surprised. He certainly had a Heisman performance today.”
LSU OFFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On the loss ...
“We always play good when we need to. Sometimes it’s too late though. We should have put that game away earlier. You can only win so many close games. It’s a mental and physical drag. We’ve been doing this for so long and it just kind of caught up with us.”
On the team’s feelings going into overtime ...
“In my mind, there was no way we were going to lose this game. Our fans are great, and it was louder than I’ve ever heard it here. It’s a disappointment. I didn’t think we would lose it in overtime.”
On the SEC Championship ...
“Everybody is going to be hurting. Tomorrow we will come in and stretch. Once tomorrow is over with, we’ll have to clear our heads and get ready to win the SEC Championship.”
On the team ...
“This is a great team. I wouldn’t trade any player on this team for any other player in the country. We come out and practice hard everyday and we play hard. We’ve got great character, and we never give up. Tonight just came down to the last second.”
RB Jacob Hester
On the team’s feelings going into overtime ...
“In the fourth quarter we came back and we felt good about overtime. We felt like we were in the position to win the game. They just made more plays than us. We tried our hardest and made a lot of big plays. We just couldn’t make the final one.”
On the loss ...
“It’s disappointing, especially after we came back like that to tie the game up. Two losses, both of them being in triple-overtime, is something we don’t want to happen. But we have to bounce back and play in the SEC Championship.”
On the SEC Championship ...
“The SEC Championship has been a goal of ours all year. It’s still a major accomplishment. We have to put this game behind us pretty quick and move onto either Georgia or Tennessee.”
On this team ...
“We never give up, no matter what the score is and no matter what the situation is. We fight, which shows the character of our head coach and the guys that we have. We are never out of a game, no matter what the score is. We always keep fighting, just like we did tonight. We just couldn’t make the final play.”
LSU DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
On his feelings about the game...
"It was a very disappointing and heartbreaking experience. We worked so hard to finish out our season strong. We had a few missed cues here and there and (Arkansas) made the plays."
On going into overtime...
"Going into overtime we felt really good. We had them on their heels at one point, making them go for fourth and ten. They just stepped up and made the plays. Things just really didn't go our way tonight."
On looking to the future...
"(Playing in the SEC West Championship) is a great opportunity. It's going to be another short week and we just have to prepare. The season isn't over. It's a heartbreaking loss, but it's just a bump in the road we have to get over. I'm excited about the opportunity to play in the SEC West Championship and we just have to put this game behind us."
DT Glenn Dorsey
On the loss to Arkansas...
"We are just going to turn our focus to next week and put this game behind us."
On Darren McFadden...
"He is a great running back. He runs hard and puts a lot of effort into this game.He kept us on our feet."
ARKANSAS HEAD COACH HOUSTON NUTT QUOTES
“I am really proud of our team today. I thought they played with a lot of heart and character. I thank God for allowing me to be around these type of guys. I just give him all the credit. I’ve never been so proud of a group that just competed so hard and played so well. For three or four hours - however long the game was – all I know is we were the best in the country today. We were the best team in the country today. You can see why LSU is No. 1. I have a lot of respect for coach (Les) Miles and their team. They have an excellent football team. I wish them the best in the (SEC) championship game, but I am just so proud of my team and our coaching staff. What they did today is just absolutely phenomenal and so well deserved.”
On if this is the biggest win of his career ...
“Well, it has to be. They (LSU) are ranked No. 1. I always think about (wins against) Texas and Tennessee, but to come down here in Baton Rouge is huge.”
On how well RB Darren McFadden played today ...
“He’s a Heisman Trophy guy. The guy deserves the trophy. It’s not right for his name not to be mentioned as No. 1 right now. He blocks; he catches; he quarterbacks; he throws; he reads; he runs the football with passion and determination, and he really deserves a serious look.”
On if he feels like the team returned the favor after last season’s LSU victory ...
“Yes. It’s the same scenario. Last year we were SEC (Western division) champions, and it was the same scenario. We had our ticket punched, and they got us in a very hard-fought game in Little Rock. But this league is the toughest league in America. That’s what’s hard sometimes for our people to understand – every Saturday anybody can beat anybody in this league if you look at this thing closely. Anybody can beat anybody.”
On if they intended to play McFadden at quarterback as much as they did ...
“We intended for that. We were going to at least go 30 percent, maybe more. Their defense is so fast, so good that we had to do something that we felt like gave us an advantage. With McFadden at quarterback, they had to respect run; they had to respect (running back) Felix (Jones); they had to respect (fullback) Peyton (Hillis); they had to respect pass. It gives us the best advantage against all those great athletes.”
Arkansas Offensive Player Quotes
RB DARREN MCFADDEN
On his fumble on the opening kickoff...
“I had a rough start. I put the ball on the ground a couple of times. I was down on myself for a little while, but I’m glad it came back the way it did.”
On Les Miles’ pronunciation of “Arkansas”...
“I heard LSU on a couple of interviews was saying “Ar-kansas.” They weren’t saying it right so we wanted to let them know how to say it.”
On how often the team ran the Wildhog formation (with McFadden at QB)...
“That was something we had been planning all week. We had been watching film of LSU and saw that they had weaknesses against running quarterbacks so it was something we planned on doing all week.”
On if he wanted to carry the team at the end of the game...
“Being a leader, that’s something I always want to do – carry my team on my back. I feel like that’s something I did tonight.”
On bringing the boot back to Arkansas...
“It’s a great feeling. We haven’t beat LSU since I’ve been here so we’re ready to take it back to Arkansas with us.”
On if the team is different with a healthy Felix Jones...
“It’s a whole lot different. You can see that by the way we went out there and played today. We ran our offense like we wanted to.”
On if he feels like he took advantage of the opportunity to win the Heisman Trophy...
“I say that numbers speak for themselves. However you want to put it, numbers speak for themselves.”
On what it’s like beating the number one team in the nation...
“It’s a great feeling. It’s a celebrating locker room right now.”
On his TD pass to Peyton Hillis...
“He was so wide open I tried not to over throw him.”
On the pressure of playing in a multiple-overtime game...
“It’s a whole lot of pressure. It’s nerve-racking to be out there on the sideline. They had fourth down and two to go and they scored. IT’s just nerve-racking.”
On the turmoil surrounding the team...
“There’s been a lot of things going on, but when things like that happen we just go back to basics inside our family. We’re a close-knit family on the football teams. We try not to pay any attention to any of that.”
ARKANSAS DEFENSIVE PLAYER QUOTES
SLB Feddie Fairchild
On the stop at the end of the game...
“We knew they would be on the field last. Our defense was just prepared for the ball and we played hard. Coach Herring had the play all set and every man marked their ground.”
On reading LSU’s offense...
“We knew our assignments man on man. They had been going at that same route all game. Our cornerback just picked it off.”
On the beginning of the game...
“We’ve been in games like this all season, coming from behind and playing hard. We already know it’s a 60 minute game so we need to go out and play every minute.”
On beating the No.1 team...
“It feels good. Ever since I’ve been here we have lost against LSU and this is the biggest win for us. This will probably be the biggest win for us this season.”
On taking the Boot back to Arkansas...
“We joked about it before we came to play. We joked that it would take three or four guys to get it back on the plane. We are just looking forward to bringing the Boot back home to Arkansas.”