The Arkansas Razorbacks (3-5) dropped their fifth straight “Battle for the Golden Boot” game to the LSU Tigers (3-3) Saturday in Fayetteville, 27-24.
The Hogs dealt with COVID-19 issues all week and were down at least 16 significant players in the contest.
Arkansas had an opportunity to tie the score and send the game into overtime late in the fourth quarter, but the Tigers blocked a 44-yard field goal attempt by Razorback kicker A.J. Reed that virtually ended the contest
LSU controlled the time of possession in this one, holding the ball for 41:43 of the 60 minutes. The Tigers were 12 of 23 on third downs compared to the Hogs’ 0-10. The Razorbacks managed to outgain LSU by 24 total yards on the day.
“You go 0 for 10 on third down, I mean, you're asking for it,” junior wide receiver Mike Woods said after the game. “We've just got to come back and go to work and do better on third down, and put ourselves in more manageable third-down situations. That's probably a big part of it.”
The third quarter dragged on until the last three minutes. In that span, Arkansas was able to complete two 50-plus yard passes and take a 21-20 lead over the Tigers on a 2-yard punch-in by Trelon Smith.
Arkansas opened the fourth quarter with a 30-yard scamper by receiver T.J Hammonds that helped set up a 22-yard field goal by Reed that gave Arkansas a 24-20 lead. Neither team was able to move the needle until the momentum shifted in favor of LSU when Razorback redshirt freshman Jalen Catalon was ejected from the game on a targeting call with 6:55 remaining.
“I play football. I think everyone there saw it,” Senior linebacker Grant Morgan said. “Jalen Catalon continues to play really aggressive and really physical. That’s just him, that’s how he’s going to play. I hate it for him. He’s one of the most dynamic players I’ve ever been around.”
The Catalon ejection took the air out of the stadium and helped LSU drive down the field and score on a 13-yard pass from T.J. Finley to Jaray Jenkins with 3:59 left in the game. Arkansas managed to drive 48 yards in 10 plays to set up a 44-yarder by Reed that was tipped by the Tigers and no good with 1:24 left to give LSU the win.
For the second straight week, Arkansas could not keep the offense on the field in the first quarter. The Hogs had the ball for just 3:49 of the first 15 minutes and were 0-3 on third down. The lone scoring drive lasted for a quick 1:05 and was capped off by a 65-yard touchdown catch by sophomore receiver Treylon Burks.
The Tigers nailed a 49-yard field goal midway through the first. Finley managed to find receiver Racey McMath for a 30-yard score early in the second quarter to give the Tigers a 10-7 lead. Later in the quarter, Franks threw his first interception since Week 4 against Ole Miss. The Tigers returned it to the Arkansas 1-yard line and sophomore running back Tyrion Davis-Price punched it in on the next play to extend the lead to 17-7.
Staying true to the last two weeks trend, Arkansas scored quickly on the next drive. Franks found Woods streaking for a 50-yarder, and three plays later, took a quarterback keeper 10 yards for a touchdown to cut the lead to 17-14. LSU’s Cade York kicked a 24-yard field goal as time expired in the half to extend the lead to 20-14 at the break.
Arkansas’ longest drive of the first half was 1:41 and resulted in a punt. The two scoring drives combined took just 1:42 off the clock. The Hogs were 0-5 on third downs in the first two quarters and had four three-and-outs.
Franks completed six of 12 passes for 150 yards, one touchdown and an interception in the half. Arkansas recorded 32 rushing yards on 13 carries through the first 30 minutes. As per usual, Jalen Catalon and Grant Morgan tied for the lead in tackles with 8. Catalon added a tackle for loss as well.
The Razorbacks will travel to Columbia, Missouri, next Saturday to take on the Missouri Tigers. The game is set to kickoff at 11 a.m. and will be broadcast on the SEC Network.