Malik Hornsby

Arkansas redshirt sophomore quarterback Malik Hornsby runs with the ball during Saturday’s game against LSU. Hornsby struggled as the Razorback starter, as the team fell 13-10 to the Tigers.



The Razorbacks came up short in this year's “Battle for the Golden Boot,” as their offense was missing in action against a stifling LSU Tiger defense, leading to a disappointing 13-10 loss Saturday in Donald W. Reynolds Razorback Stadium. 

Despite struggles offensively, the Arkansas defense made play after play to keep the Hogs within striking distance the entire game.

“Our defense played lights out,” Arkansas head coach Sam Pittman said. “By far the best game we’ve played all year. Covered well, pressured the quarterback well, and for the second week in a row we couldn’t get anything going offensively.”

Arkansas’ offensive struggles came as a result of star redshirt junior quarterback KJ Jefferson missing the contest due to a shoulder injury that had limited him in practice all week. Pittman decided to roll with redshirt sophomore Malik Hornsby, who had seen significant time in just one game this season — a 23-point loss to Mississippi State.

Arkansas’ defense came out hot with back-to-back sacks by junior defensive end Jashaud Stewart and redshirt freshman linebacker Chris Paul Jr. on the game’s opening drive to put the Tigers in a long third down. They were able to convert, thanks to a 20-yard rush by Josh Williams, but senior Latavious Brini intercepted a pass a few plays later to give the Hogs a first down at their own 43. Arkansas was unable to capitalize, punting the ball away just three plays later.

An elusive punt return by redshirt freshman Bryce Stevens following the next Tiger drive gave the Hogs incredible field position midway through the first quarter. Behind the legs of Hornsby, sophomore running back Raheim “Rocket” Sanders and sophomore kicker Cameron Little, the Razorbacks were able to secure a field goal and a 3-0 lead.

The Arkansas defense continued its incredible first quarter when senior defensive end Jordan Domineck forced LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels to fumble. Brini fell on the ball to give Arkansas first-and-goal at the 10-yard line.

An 8-yard gain on first down looked promising until the Razorbacks found themselves with fourth down and a decision. Pittman and offensive coordinator Kendal Briles decided to go for it, but Hornsby was stuffed well short, turning possession over to LSU.

Pittman said he thought points were going to be hard to come by, explaining his decision not to kick a field goal.

“I thought we were going to score on the first run, then we had two more plays of minus yardage. I thought, ‘We got them down here, let's score a touchdown.’”

After several unproductive drives by both teams, the ball slipped out of the hands of Hornsby. LSU recovered in Arkansas territory, but a sack on third-and-4 by redshirt junior Eric Gregory forced the Tigers to settle for three points.

The Arkansas defense looked to be on its heels during LSU’s 10-play, 65-yard drive late in the second quarter, but the coverage held strong on third down and forced Daniels into the arms of Paul and redshirt junior defensive back Hudson Clark. The Tigers elected to kick a 29-yard field goal to go up 6-3 with 1:51 left in the second.

The Razorbacks once again found themselves with fourth down and a decision early in the third quarter, again electing to go for it and again failing to convert, after Hornsby slipped 12 yards behind the line of scrimmage. LSU took over at the Arkansas 40 as boos rained down on the Hogs.

Taking advantage of the field position, LSU scored the game's first touchdown just five plays later, after Williams got the handoff on the 1-yard line and walked into the endzone untouched. The Tigers found themselves with a 13-3 lead and all the momentum.

Following the turnover on downs, Pittman and Briles had seen everything they needed to see out of Hornsby, replacing him with redshirt senior Cade Fortin on the next possession. After a couple solid completions, LSU linebacker Micah Baskerville knocked down Fortin's third down pass at the line of scrimmage, forcing Arkansas to punt.

“You have to rally around the guy that’s playing,” senior offensive lineman Ricky Stromberg said. “When Malik started, we were rallying around him. When Cade came in we started rallying around him.”

The Arkansas offense that had been silent all day suddenly erupted when Fortin put the team on his back, hooking up with senior wide receiver Matt Landers on two 25-plus-yard completions, including a 40-yard touchdown to cut the deficit to three points with 13:17 to go in the fourth quarter.

With 6:08 left in the fourth, Arkansas’ defense had to make a play, and it delivered. Redshirt senior Simeon Blair blew past the line, bringing Williams down at the line of scrimmage and forcing a turnover on downs near midfield.

The Razorbacks took over with victory just 57 yards away. It looked bleak when the officials ruled Fortin had fumbled, but a review overturned the call, giving the Hogs an opportunity to punt and lean on their defense.

It looked like the defense had stepped up again, forcing LSU wide receiver Jaray Jenkins out on third down 1 yard short of the marker, but the referees disagreed. After video review, the call that the runner had reached the line to gain stood, and the crowd erupted in a flurry of boos.

It took all of their timeouts, but the Hogs were finally able to get the ball back with 1:35 left down by three. Another Fortin fumble went under video review, and the LSU recovery stood, ending any hope Arkansas had to emerge victorious.

“That’s football,” junior linebacker Drew Sanders said. “We played great defense, but they played great defense too. It came down to the wire. We gave our team a chance to win and so did they. They just got the edge on us.”

Arkansas will look to finish off its three-game homestand with a win next Saturday against Mississippi. The final home game of 2022 is scheduled to start at 6 or 6:30 p.m., depending on the outcomes of the rest of the weekend’s games.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.