Hogs gave LSU a fight

By: Bob Holt Bob Holt's Twitter account
Published: Monday, September 25, 2023
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson looks to pass during a game against LSU on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.
( Hank Layton)
Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson looks to pass during a game against LSU on Saturday, Sept. 23, 2023, in Baton Rouge, La.

BATON ROUGE — When ESPN announced Sept. 11 the University of Arkansas’ game at LSU had been selected for a primetime telecast on Saturday night, it was five days before BYU beat the Razorbacks 38-31 in Fayetteville.

That score coupled with LSU’s 41-14 victory at Mississippi State last week resulted in the No. 12 Tigers being installed as 17 1/2-point favorites at home against Arkansas.

LSU won, but it wasn’t a blowout.

Instead ESPN and its top broadcast team of Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit and Holly Rowe got a compelling matchup that went down to the wire.

LSU won 34-31 at Tiger Stadium on Damian Ramos’ 20-yard field goal with 5 seconds left.

The Razorbacks (2-2, 0-1 SEC) now will regroup to prepare to play Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0) at 11 a.m. this Saturday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

“Oh yeah, I believe we’re going to win, damn, the rest of them,” Arkansas Coach Sam Pittman said. “I mean, we may not, but we got a good football team.

“And I think LSU’s a good football team. I thought that coming in. I mean, they’re a good team. But yes, I believe we’ve got a good football team and I think they’ll bounce back next week.

“And I know we’ve got a really good team in A&M. They got a big win. We can go win football games, yes.”

The Aggies beat Auburn 27-10 at home on Saturday.

“I think we gave great effort for all 60 minutes,” Arkansas safety Hudson Clark said. “A loss is never acceptable, so I think going into next week we’ve got to fix some stuff, and then just get ready to play A&M.”

LSU Coach Brian Kelly praised the Razorbacks for how they responded after the BYU loss.

“Hats off to Sam Pittman and his team,” Kelly said. “They played outstanding football.

“Any time you are playing an SEC opponent, and one that is highly motivated to come in here, we are very happy with the win.”

Pittman said there were a lot of positives for the Razorbacks, but they’ve got to clean up their penalties. Arkansas was penalized 11 times for 69 yards at LSU after having 14 penalties for 125 yards against BYU.

“But the effort has always been there this year,” Pittman said. “I thought we played a good half on defense, or a good almost half on defense.”

The Tigers (3-1, 2-0) pulled within 13-10 on Jayden Daniels’ 49-yard touchdown pass to Brian Thomas with 30 seconds left before halftime.

LSU then scored on all four of its second-half possessions with three touchdowns before the game-winning field goal.

“We’ve got to get some things figured out defensively, because we didn’t stop them in the second half,” Pittman said.

Linebacker Jaheim Thomas, a junior transfer from Cincinnati, led Arkansas with a career-high 13 tackles in his first game against LSU.

“We were just ready for the game,” Thomas said. “Rivalry game.”

LSU improved to 19-9 against Arkansas since the winner started being awarded the Golden Boot Trophy in 1996. The Tigers lead the overall series 44-23-2 and are 3-1 in the last four matchups — all decided by three points.

Senior quarterback KJ Jefferson, a three-year captain for the Razorbacks, praised his teammates for sticking together through two close losses.

“We were cheering on the defense, the defense was cheering us on,” said Jefferson, who passed for 289 yards and three touchdowns and kept several plays alive with his scrambling. “It was a real team effort.

“We came up short, but it also shows the growth and maturity we have on our team and we’re in a great spot right now.”

Arkansas freshman tight end Luke Hasz had 6 catches for 116 yards and 2 touchdowns.

“Flushing this week and going back to practice, getting ready to game plan for Texas A&M,” Hasz said of the Razorbacks’ approach. “Every team we’re going to play the rest of the way is going to be really good.

“So we’re just going to practice every day, giving it our all like it’s our last game. That’s exactly what we’re going to do.”


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