Tigers Beat Hogs in SEC Classic, 31-26; Make BCS Case
LSU Sports Interactive
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- No. 9 LSU used a 92-yard kickoff return by Trindon Holliday to cap a 10-2 season by beating SEC Champion and fifth-ranked Arkansas, 31-26, and make their case for a BCS bowl on Saturday at War Memorial Stadium.
LSU (10-2 overall, 6-2 SEC) beat Arkansas (10-2, 7-1 SEC) for the fourth-straight time. But, this time, they came out smelling like Roses with so much on the line in the first Top 10 matchup between the two border rivals.
The Tigers put an exclamation point on a season that included four road games against opponents ranked in the top eight in the country.
This time, they overcame two fumbles in Arkansas territory to beat the Razorbacks, who are heading to Atlanta's Georgia Dome to represent the SEC Western Division in the league's championship game next Saturday.
Quarterback JaMarcus Russell threw two touchdown passes, including a 47-yarder to Craig Davis that gave LSU a 14-6 lead in the second quarter and a 7-yarder to Early Doucet that put the Tigers up by 12, 24-12, early in the crazy fourth quarter.
The Doucet score was the first of three within a minute of game time, as Arkansas Heisman Trophy candidate Darren McFadden tore off an 80-yard run on the next play from scrimmage to cut the LSU lead to 24-19.
However, on the kickoff, Holliday took the ball from the 8-yard line, broke through the Arkansas defense, and sprinted by two Hogs for the touchdown. Holliday, a 5-5 freshman, also runs track for the Tigers.
The Hogs were cooked.
LSU's defense allowed another score with less than five minutes to play in the game, however, the drive took more than five minutes off the clock.
With no timeouts remaining, Arkansas again took over with 2:04 after LSU an punt went only 22 yards to the Arkansas 27-yard line.
Rather than using McFadden or Jones in their two-minute attack, the Hogs relied on quarterback Casey Dick.
Four passes later -- and four passes broken up by the LSU secondary -- and the Tigers were on their way to victory.
LSU won despite allowing 182 yards rushing to McFadden and 137 to Jones, as the Hogs scored three times on the ground and totalled 298 net yards on 39 carries.
Meanwhile, Russell controlled the game by completing 14 of 22 passes for 210 yards. Keiland Williams spearheaded the LSU rushing attack in the first half, while Alley Broussard, Jacob Hester and Justin Vincent took the bulk of the load in the second half.
Williams finished with 68 yards on 13 carries, including a 29-yard touchdown sprint for LSU's first score.
Dwayne Bowe led the Tigers receiving corps with five catches for 68 yards and a few key blocks that opened holes for the LSU running game. Davis added three catches for 72 yards, while Hester caught three balls for 44 yards.
Dick, who started the final three regular-season games for the Hogs, wasn't much of a threat when he wasn't handing off to McFadden or Jones. He finished 3-of-17 passing with a 21-yard touchdown pass to Marcus Monk and a key interception late in the fourth quarter that setup Doucet's score.
McFadden, who lined up in the shotgun in several formations, was 2-of-2 passing for 33 yards.
LSU won the toss to open the game for the 10th time this season and elected to defer its decision to the second half.
Arkansas took advantage by storming 80 yards down the field in six plays, capped by a 1-yard McFadden run on third and goal.
However, the PAT was missed by Jeremy Davis to give Arkansas a 6-0 lead with 12:30 left in the first quarter.
Later in the quarter, LSU answered with a six-play drive of its own that spanned 70 yards.
LSU overcame a holding penalty that forced second-and-long from near midfield when Russell connected with Bowe for 22 yards for a first down in Arkansas territory.
On the next play, Williams bounced around the right end and outran the Arkansas secondary for a 29-yard touchdown run -- his third of the season.
Colt David's PAT gave LSU a 7-6 lead with 4:51 to play in the first quarter.
On its first possession of the second quarter, LSU wasted little time increasing its lead to 14 points. After a 20-yard catch by Davis gave the Tigers a first down inside Arkansas territory.
Facing a third-and-13 after a sack of Russell, the 6-6 quarterback connected with Davis for a 47-yard touchdown catch and run.
The PAT by David gave LSU a 14-6 lead with 10:55 to play in the half.
Arkansas kept the game close with another touchdown of its own midway through the quarter, cutting the LSU lead to 14-12 after a 21-yard reception and run by Marcus Monk.
The two-point conversion that would have tied the game sailed over the head of Jones, and LSU would take a 14-12 lead into the lockerroom.
On its first drive of the the second half, the Tigers marched 70 yards in 15 plays, but couldn't poke the ball across the Arkansas goal line and were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by David.
LSU led 17-12 with 7:24 left in the third quarter.
Near the end of the third quarter, LSU again penetrated Arkansas territory and entered the redzone on a run by Broussard. However, on his second effort, the LSU running back fumbled at the Arkansas 17.
On the ensuing possession, the Tigers defense came up with a huge stop on fourth down when Rickey Jean-Francois sacked Dick for a 15-yard loss in LSU territory.
On the first play after an LSU punt, Dick was picked off by LSU safety LaRon Landry, who returned 19 yards to the Arkansas 9-yard line.
On third-and-goal from the 7, Russell notched his 26th touchdown pass of the season, finding Doucet who wrestled the ball from an Arkansas defender for the score.
After the David PAT, LSU led 24-12.
On the next play from scrimmage after a touchback, McFadden darted through the LSU line for an 80-yard touchdown that closed the gap to 24-19 with 10:31 to play in the game.
But wait. The show wasn't over.
LSU sprinter and tailback Trindon Holliday showed his stuff by returning the kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and a 31-19 lead.
Then, after a 63-yard kickoff return by Jones, Arkansas narrowed the gap to 31-26 with a nine-play, 37-yard drive that took more than five minutes off the clock.
With 4:53 left in the game, Jones scored around the right side. But, Arkansas would get no closer.
LSU returned to Baton Rouge via charter flight from Little Rock with its second-straight 10-win season.
LSU vs. Arkansas
Nov. 24, 2006
Little Rock, Ark. - War Memorial Stadium
1. LSU’s game captains were 2 JaMarcus Russell, 41 Chris Jackson, 33 Jason Spadoni, 30 LaRon Landry.
2. LSU won the toss and deferred to the second half. Arkansas received the opening kickoff.
3. Tigers extending their consecutive starts streak today were: FS LaRon Landry (47), CB Chevis Jackson (25), DE Chase Pittman (18).
4. LSU has recorded at least one sack in 18 straight games after a first quarter sack by Tyson Jackson in today’s game. The last time LSU’s defense did not record a sack was against North Texas last season.
5. LSU has outscored its opponents 122-20 in the first quarter this season. Florida, Alabama and Arkansas are the only teams to dent the scoreboard in the first quarter against LSU.
6. The Tigers won their 15th straight game in the month of November. The last time LSU lost a game in November was a 21-20 loss at Arkansas in 2002.
7. With a five-yard catch by WR Craig Davis in the first quarter LSU now has three receivers with 50 or more catches in a season for the first time in school history – Craig Davis (52), Dwayne Bowe (60) and Early Doucet (51).
8. With the win, LSU defeated a higher ranked opponent for the second time this season, first beating #9/10 Tennessee on Nov. 4
9. LSU’s win over a top-five opponent is its first since the 2005 season when the Tigers knocked off #3/4 Alabama on Nov. 12 in Tuscaloosa.
1. WR Craig Davis pulled in a five-yard reception in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 34.
a. With a 20-yard catch in the second quarter Davis became just the seventh player in LSU history to record over 2,000 receiving yards for his career. He now ranks sixth in school history with 2,057 career receiving yards.
b. Davis’ 47-yard touchdown grab in the second quarter marked his fourth of the season and the seventh of his career.
2. WR Dwayne Bowe pulled in a 12-yard reception in the first quarter to extend his consecutive games with a reception streak to 24 straight games.
a. With five catches on the day Bowe is now tied with Jeral Myers for fifth on LSU career receptions list with 149.
3. With a tackle in the first quarter, FS LaRon Landry extended his tackles in consecutive games streak. The senior has now made a tackle in 51 straight games.
a. Landry picked off his second pass of the season and the 11th of his career with 11:50 to go in the fourth quarter.
4. With 14 completions on the day QB JaMarcus Russell moved passed Jamie Howard to third on LSU’s career completions list with 471.
a. Russell also moved up to third on LSU’s career passing yards list. He finished the game with 210 yards and now has 6,287 for his career.
5. RB Keiland Williams recorded his third career TD with 4:51 to go in the first quarter, scoring on a 29-yard run. The freshman finished the day with 68 yards on 13 carries.
6. PK Colt David moved into a tie for fourth with Pedro Betanzos on LSU’s career PATs made list with four successful attempts tonight. The sophomore now has 91 for his career.
a. David is now six-of-10 on field goals attempts this season after successfully connecting from 28 yards out with 7:24 to go in the third quarter.
7. FB Jacob Hester caught a career long 38-yard pass from QB JaMarcus Russell in the third quarter. He finished the day with 62 all-purpose yards, picking up 44 through the air while gaining another 18 on the ground.
8. WR Early Doucet pulled in his eighth receiving touchdown of the season, and the 16th of his career, on a seven-yard grab with 11:59 to go in the fourth quarter.
12. RB Trindon Holliday scored just his second career touchdown on a 92-yard kickoff return with 10:14 to go in the game. The kickoff return for a touchdown was the first by a LSU athlete since 1998 when Kevin Faulk went 88 yards for a score against Notre Dame.
LSU Coach Les Miles
“This is a tremendous victory. Arkansas has a really good football team. It took a special effort today. It’s so hard to prepare for what Arkansas has to offer.”
(On his team)
“There is no give up in this team. They care enough to put themselves second and the team first.”
(On his team’s bowl prospects)
“We’ve made a case for the BCS, certainly. When they’re picking the best team from the SEC, they’ll have something to talk about. We have had the distinct impression that we were the best team in the SEC West. The SEC West Champion is Arkansas, but we’re right there.”
(On Trindon Holliday’s 4th Quarter Kickoff Return)
“To answer right there (after Darren McFadden’s 80-yard TD run), the very next play, is so huge. When (Holliday) gets out in front, he’s tough to catch.”
(On Arkansas’ offensive production)
“I would never have thought they would score 26 points or have 300 yards rushing.
LSU Quarterback JaMarcus Russell
“This is a very proud win for me, personally. We faced adversity the whole game and were able to overcome it and get the victory. The kick return for touchdown gave us the extra momentum we needed. Once that happened we knew it was over and all we had to do was take care of business. We think we are now in the BCS picture with a win like that. The fumbles came at bad times but we were able to keep our composure and win the game.”
LSU Defensive End Chase Pittman
“We knew they had two of the best running backs in the country coming into the game so our focus was to stop them. We did not do a great job of it but well enough to hold on for the victory. On Arkansas’ last series we weren’t sure if they were going to put (Darren) McFadden or (Casey) Dick at quarterback; we were prepared for both but they came out with the pass and we were able to stop them to preserve the game. This win put us in the position where we want to be heading into the bowl game wherever it is. We feel we have done enough now to play after January 1. We came in with the attitude of trying to show we were the best in the SEC West and I think we did that today.”
LSU Wide Receiver Early Doucet
“The touchdown play was something we had worked on all week in practice and we found a good time to use it. JaMarcus (Russell) threw a perfect ball to me and I went up and made the catch. I had possession the whole time but when me and the defender came down he tried to wrestle the ball away from me. The kickoff return by Trindon (Holliday) came at a perfect time for us after they had a big play to get the momentum back. I feel that we are now a BCS team; I think we have been for the entire season but just lost two games that we should have won.”
Arkansas vs. LSU
November 24, 2006
War Memorial Stadium – Little Rock, Ark.
Arkansas Head Coach Houston Nutt
“I am really proud of our team and all of our seniors. I’ve been proud of them all year. This is not how we wanted to end our regular season. You’ve got to give LSU credit. You can’t give them big plays but we showed why we are going to Atlanta for the (SEC) Championship game. I would love to have a couple plays back and a kickoff but you can’t go back now. We are going to pick ourselves up and get ready for our next game.
“Our defense got really tired but they showed a lot of courage and determination. That first extra point miss really messed us up. You can’t miss extra points. It messed up our rhythm because then we had to think about going for two. That is hard to come by against the number one defense in the country.
“Jamarcus Russell is a great player. He is a big 6’6” guy who can see over everybody. He can always make some big plays. He is very hard to bring down and can make those third down conversions.
“It feels very weird to lose. It’s a bad feeling. I would much rather have it the other way; it’s much more fun that way. Our team played with class and we deserve to go to Atlanta. Give us a couple of day and we will be ready.”
Arkansas quarterback Casey Dick
“It’s tough for all of us. I obviously didn’t play to the best of my abilities and I take full responsibility for that. Now we just have to regroup just like we did after USC. We missed some key opportunities, but now we have to go to Atlanta and take care of business.”
Arkansas running back Felix Jones
“It makes losing even harder when you’re that close. We just have to take it as a stepping stone and learn from it. We can’t blame anyone. We played our best.”
(On his kick off return in the fourth quarter) “When I get the ball in my hands I look to score, and I was almost able to take that one.”
Arkansas defensive lineman Keith Jackson, Jr.
“There’s still plenty to play for. We still get to go to Atlanta and play Florida. This is definitely disappointing, but we’re not done.”
(On the physical nature of the game) “Sure we got tired toward the end, but we never break.”
Arkansas running back Darren McFadden
(On the crowd) “I loved the crowd today. They’re always crazy.”
(On setting the Arkansas single season rushing record) “It’s a great feeling, but it came at a bad time. It’s just a credit to the offensive line. Without them I wouldn’t be able to run anywhere.”
(On his 80-yard touchdown run) “It was just zone blocking but the offensive line did a great job like they have all year. They opened up the hole and I just ran through it.”
(On the loss) “It’s definitely tough, but we just have to get back to work on Sunday. We still have a lot of focus on for next week.”