Everyone thought the cold weather would affect LSU on Saturday night, but it was Arkansas’ offense that was frozen through three quarters.
Still, though, the Razorbacks had a shot at a fourth-quarter comeback that fell one score short as the seventh-ranked Tigers came away with a 24-17 win that really didn’t feel as close as the final score indicated.
“We got within a score, and just needed one more stop but we couldn’t find a way to get that ball back,” Hogs coach Chad Morris said later.
Going into the fourth quarter against LSU on Saturday night, Arkansas’ offense had generated just 91 yards as the Tigers were dominating through the first three quarters.
The biggest positive at that point was it wasn’t a shutout.
And there was the fourth quarter where the Hogs made it 24-10.
The Razorbacks avoided that with a 24-yard field goal by Connor Limpert just before the first half ended.
And that was set up on a 24-yard fumble return by Dre Greenlaw that set up the offense at the Tigers’ 33-yard line.
Jared Cornelius then made a return, catching a 27-yard pass from Ty Storey to reach the LSU 6, but there was only six seconds left in the half and a field goal was the best option then to avoid a shutout.
LSU led 14-3 at halftime and added 10 more points in the third quarter for the lead going into the final period.
The Hogs mounted a drive to start the fourth quarter with passes from Storey to La’Michael Pettway, then Grayson Gunter that moved the ball to the 23 and a facemask penalty against the Tigers moved it to the 11.
With Rakeem Boyd after suffering an apparent leg injury to start the final period, but they couldn’t gain a yard on three pass attempts with the only completion to Cheyenne O’Grady for zero yardage.
On fourth-and-10 from the 11 following a timeout, Storey found O’Grady in the corner of the end zone and he out-muscled JaCoby Stevens for the ball and a score with 12:37 left that cut it to 24-10.
Arkansas’ defense forced an LSU punt on the ensuing series, giving the offense back after it had finally gotten to 156 yards on the night.
Storey underthrew a deep route to Deion Stewart that was intercepted by Kary Vincent, Jr., at midfield and the Razorbacks’ defense stepped up again as McTelvin Agim and Santos Ramirez smothered Clyde Edwards-Helaire on a fourth-and-1 at the 25.
This time, Storey directed a drive down the field hitting key passes to first Deon Stewart, then Jared Cornelius. LSU’s Vincent then was hit with an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that moved it to the Tigers’ 32.
Storey found O’Grady again for a score and it was a one-score game. The biggest issue was the junior tight end celebrated too hard and got hit with a 15-yard penalty that gave LSU good field position and Arkansas never got the ball back.
“The touchdown before was close to being unsportsmanlike,” Morris said later. “I addressed it with him, I said ‘you have to play smart’, my exact words were ‘you’ve got to be composed.’ I knew that if there was anything remotely close that he was going to get called.”
It got O’Grady’s attention.
“That’s not gonna happen again,” he said later. “That was just an immature move on my part and it’s definitely not gonna happen again.”
Limpert had to shove Edwards-Helaire out of bounds on the ensuing kickoff at the LSU 41. Facing third-and-6, Tigers quarterback Joe Burrow, who played an unspectacularly error-free game, hit a pass for a first down, then ran around right end on a bootleg for 16 yards and the Hogs were done.
Nick Brossette did a slide twice to keep from scoring and giving the Hogs the ball back. Why that was the choice when it would have given LSU a two-touchdown lead was mystifying, but it did keep Arkansas’ offense on the bench.
“It was ours against theirs and they just won their matchup,” Hogs defensive lineman McTelving Agim said later. “We won most of the matchups all night, but when it came down to the clutch moment we gave one up. We just have to go back to the drawing board.”
With only road games left against Mississippi State and Missouri, the chances for this team to avoid having the worst record in program history are disappearing fast.
“Losing isn’t fun at all,” senior linebacker Dre Greenlaw said later. “I wish the season would’ve been better than what it is, but we just have to continue to fight.”
That was the recurring theme from everyone.
“I saw a lot of fight in our team tonight,” Greenlaw said. “There was plenty of times we could’ve given up. Guys were banged up. I’m just proud of the way we fought and battled.
“Just going out there in my last game in that stadium, I felt like we fought hard and I’m really proud of that.”
It was the last game in Razorback Stadium for a group that has had fewer wins over the last two seasons than they had in any of their previous years.
“It’s very, very important that we recognize these seniors and the hurt and the fight that they’ve been through,” Morris said. “It started with 27, down to 15. They love the Razorbacks with all their heart and we love them.”
He just wants to get another win with this group.
“Just the fight in all our group, it’s just an opportunity that these men have been coming back in this building and fighting every day,” Morris said. “That’s our message right now, we’ve got to come back in and continue to fight.”