Mallett, No. 12 Arkansas Pass by No. 6 LSU
LSU Sports Interactive
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Touchdown passes of 85, 80 and 39 yards by Arkansas quarterback Ryan Mallett were too much for the sixth-ranked LSU football team to overcome, as Tigers fell to the 12th-ranked Razorbacks on Saturday in Little Rock, 31-23.
LSU (10-2, 6-2 SEC) will await a bowl invitation, which is expected on Sunday, Dec. 5, following the SEC Championship game. LSU will play in the postseason for 11th-straight season, the eighth-longest active streak in the nation.
Arkansas improved to 10-2 overall and 6-2 in the SEC.
LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson was 16-of-26 passing for 184 yards, while running back Stevan Ridley carried 17 times for 75 yards and two touchdowns. Ridley became the 13th Tiger to eclipse 1,000 yards rushing in a single-season.
Wide receiver Terrence Toliver was LSU's leading receiver with 41 yards on three catches.
With three field goals in four attempts, LSU placekicker Josh Jasper tied LSU's single-season field goal record with 26 in 2010. Jasper converted from 46, 20 and 36 after missing his first attempt from 43,
Though Jasper contined to shine, the Tigers inability to convert scoring opportunities into touchdowns caught up with LSU against the big-play Razorbacks.
Mallett finished 13-of-23 passing for 320 yards and with two interceptions. Arkansas running back Knile Davis was tough for LSU to bring down with 30 carries for 152 yards and a touchdown. Wide receiver Cody Hamilton had the two longest scores for Arkansas and 164 yards on three catches. Joe Adams had three catches for 60 yards including a 39-yard touchdown on fourth-and-3 that put the Razorbacks ahead 28-20.
The three big plays by Mallett helped Arkansas outgain LSU, 470-299.
Arkansas won the toss and elected to receive the opening kickoff with LSU defending the north endzone in the first quarter.
On the Razorbacks' first possession, LSU gave away 15 yards to the Hogs 37 with a facemask penalty but were able to recover when the third-down snap from center sailed high of the 6-foot-6 Mallett for a 16-yard loss.
LSU also struggled to find its footing on its first possession, as Jefferson was sacked and lost nine yards on the drive. Derek Helton came on to blast would up being an 82-yard punt when returner Joe Adams muffed the punt near the Arkansas 28 before the Hogs finally recovered at their 4.
Arkansas gained two first downs to their 30 before LSU defensive end Lavar Edwards sacked Mallett and jarred the ball loose. Arkansas recovered and Dylan Breeding came on again for a 41-yard punt that hit CBS's "Action Cam" guy-wires and glanced off LSU's Daniel Graff. Arkansas jumped on the live ball at the LSU 27. Later in the have, the CBS overhead camera was removed from service.
The Tigers defense stiffened on its side of the field, sacking Mallett again on third down. Plackekicker Zach Hocker missed a 41-yard field goal and LSU took over at the 24.
In the hurry-up offense, a 29-yard catch and run by Spencer Ware from Jefferson moved the Tigers into Arkansas territory at the 44. Ridley quickly added 16 yards to the 28 where the drive stalled. LSU placekicker Josh Jasper pulled his 43-yard field goal attempt to the left.
Mallett took advantage of the miss, guiding the Razorbacks 74 yards in five plays to break the scoreless tie. Mallett connected with Wright for 37 yards to the LSU 37 and then D.J. Williams for 15 yards to the 22 before Davis took over. The running back scored on third-and-2 from the 14.
Arkansas led 7-0 with 2:30 left in the quarter.
With backup quarterback Jarrett Lee giving Jefferson a break, LSU gained only five yards and Helton's punt again hit the CBS guy-wire and went for 33 yards.
The Razorbacks took over at their 30, but a holding penalty on first down brought back a long run and the Hogs never recovered.
On its first drive of the second quarter, LSU's offense came alive. A 13-yard scramble by Jefferson on third-and-9 kick-started the drive. Jefferson then connected with Terrence Toliver for 32 yards to the Arkansas 29 and freshman Kadron Boone for 24 yards to the 5. Ridley scored his first touchdown of the game on the next play to tie the game at 7-7 with 11:52 left in the half.
A three-and-out by Arkansas put the ball in the Tigers' hands. Three penalties on the drive kept the Tigers from earning a first down, though a 21-yard pass from Jefferson to Russell Shepard was caught at the Arkansas 49 on third-and-22. Jasper's 35-yard punt was fair caught at the Arkansas 14.
On third-and-9, Mallett tossed his first touchdown pass to Hamilton, who caught the pass along the left sideline and sprinted past the Tigers secondary for an 85-yard score.
Arkansas led 14-7 with 6:52 left in the half.
The Tigers again answered the score after a 55-yard kickoff return by Patrick Peterson put LSU at the Arkansas 42. Another 13-yard run by Jefferson went for a first down to the 30, and a facemask penalty on second down moved LSU to first-and-goal at the 6. After an LSU penalty, Ridley caught an 8-yard pass to the 3 and scored around the left end on the next play.
LSU tied the game at 14-14 with 2:20 left in the half.
A wild ending to the half included a punt by Arkansas with 1:18 to play, a fumbled snap by Jefferson that Arkansas recovered at the LSU 21, and an interception by LSU cornerback Morris Claiborne in the endzone on the next play. LSU advanced near midfield but punted into the Arkansas endzone with six seconds to play.
The Tigers were then burned for an 80-yard touchdown pass from Mallett to Hamilton to stun the LSU defense with no time left on the clock.
Arkansas led 21-14 at halftime.
On its first drive of the second half, a 54-yard return by Patrick Peterson again put LSU in Arkansas territory to start a drive. Eight plays later, Jasper connected on a 46-yard field goal that pulled the Tigers to a 21-17 deficit with 10:39 left in the third quarter.
A quick three-and-out by Arkansas included a sack of Mallett by LSU defensive end Kendrick Adams. Breeding wasn't able to handle the pass from center and LSU tackled the punter at the Arkansas 6.
The Tigers weren't able to convert after a 6-yard catch by Ridley to the 3, as a third-down pass to tight end Deangelo Peterson in the right corner of the endzone.
With Jasper's 20-yard field goal, LSU trailed 21-20 at the 7:52 mark of the third quarter.
Arkansas advanced to midfield on the ensuing drive, but LSU freshman safety Eric Reid cut in front of the intended receiver. Reid's 31-yard return to the LSU 49-yard line put the Tigers in prime position again. However, Jefferson was sacked on third down and LSU punted into the endzone.
Arkansas scored what proved to be the game-winning touchdown at the end of an 11-play, 80-yard drive that took 5:03 off the clock. On fourth-and-3 from the LSU 39, Mallett threw over the top of LSU's defense to a wide-open Joe Adams. The score put Arkansas ahead 28-20 with 14:10 left.
The Razorbacks added a 19-yard field goal with 6:09 remaining to move ahead 31-20.
LSU was able to answer with a 36-yard Jasper field goal, but an onside kick by the LSU placekicker was fielded securely by Hamilton.