FAYETTEVILLE — Once again, an Arkansas and LSU game was decided by three points only with this time the home team taking a 34-31 win.
Arkansas coming off a disappointing loss to BYU in Razorback Stadium last Saturday fought to the end against No. 12 LSU. The Tigers won it on a 20-yard field goal by Damian Ramos with five seconds left in the game. Jayden Daniels proved too much for the Hogs. He completed 20-of-29 passes for 320 yards, four touchdowns and an interception. He also gained 36 yards on 10 carries.
"Give credit to LSU," Pittman said. "Daniels played a great game. Once he got on he was on. I thought we frustrated him early, but we couldn't stop him from the end of the first half forward. He was on. We tried several different coverages. I was proud of the offense as far as their resiliency to come back and score. They overcame a lot of their own self-infliction with penalties. Jumping offsides. We had one on defense that crushed us on a 3rd-and-5.
"I thought our kids played extremely hard. We really thought we could come beat LSU tonight. We fell three points short, but give them all the credit because they found a way to win. We've got a good football team. We've got a lot to work on, but I like this team. I think they fight. I'm proud of our effort, but none of us are happy with the result."
Arkansas' KJ Jefferson also had an outstanding game. Jefferson completed 21-of-31 passes for 289 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions. One interception was a meaningless pass that came on a Hail Mary the last play of the game. He also rushed 16 times for 48 yards.
"I'm not talking for Coach (Brian) Kelly but I thought both of them played better as the game went on," Pittman said. "Both of them made plays. Daniels made plays with his feet as well, especially in crucial situations. But I thought as the game went on both quarterbacks got in rhythm, and both of them were really hard to stop."
Arkansas scored first on a 23-yard field goal with 5:56 remaining in the first quarter. Arkansas had a third-and-goal play at the LSU 1 before an offensive lineman got hit with a false start. That caused the Hogs to have to settle for a field goal.
Then Daniels and Jefferson traded interceptions. Dwight McGlothern picked off a Daniels pass and then one play later Andre Sam got a pick off Jefferson.
Arkansas took a 6-0 lead with 6:33 remaining in the first half. It was another 23-yard field goal by Little. LSU then answered with a 24-yard field goal from Ramos.
Arkansas finally found the end zone when Jefferson hit Tyrone Broden for a 19-yard touchdown with 48 seconds remaining before halftime. The drive was an 8-play, 75-yard one that took 3:14 off the clock.
But LSU wasn't finished they drove 75 yards in three plays with Daniels finding Brian Thomas Jr. for a 49-yard touchdown. The Hogs took the 13-10 lead into halftime. Pittman talked about having to settle for field goals in the first half.
"Yeah, I do," Pittman said. "It hurt us. We got down there twice and came away with six points. Both of them I think we had first down... One of them I think we had on the five. The other one I think was on the eight. We weren't able to score and came away with three."
LSU wasted no time continuing its offensive momentum though in the third quarter. Once again, Daniels found Thomas for a 49-yard touchdown. LSU took a 17-13 lead with 14 minutes remaining in the third quarter. It was their first lead of the night.
Arkansas had some trickery on its next possession. With a fourth-and-2 play at the LSU 19, Max Fletcher, the holder for field goals, took the fake and ran it eight yards to the LSU 11 for a first down. However, Arkansas' offense stalled at that point and they had to settle for a 40-yard field goal from Little.
Daniels came right back and took the Tigers down the field. Daniels hit wide receiver Malik Nabers for an 8-yard touchdown with 1:40 remaining in the third quarter. LSU led 24-16.
Jefferson then took the Hogs on a six-play, 75-yard drive that ended with him tossing a 41-yard touchdown pass to tight end Luke Hasz. The pair hooked up on the two-point conversion and the game was tied at 24 with 14:11 remaining.
Once again, Arkansas' defense couldn't stop Daniels though. He promptly took the Tigers on a nine-play, 75-yard drive to take a 31-24 lead when he passed 20 yards to Nabers with 9:43 left in the game.
The Hogs also weren't finished. Jefferson took them on a 10-play, 75-yard drive that saw him toss an 11-yard touchdown pass to Hasz. Little's PAT tied the game at 31 with 5:06 remaining. Was Pittman surprised the game turned into an offensive slugfest after both defenses played so well the first half?
""I think so a little bit on both sides," Pittman said. "I think going into it the last three years... Isn't that ironic, guys? Another damn three-point loss. The bad thing is the Razorbacks are 1-3 in those. One win and three losses. I felt like it was going to be a defensive game. I thought we could change coverages enough, and I thought we could get some pressure, which I felt like we did early in the first half. They did a really good job of blocking up our rush, and he was on.
"A lot of times he didn't have to be on because we weren't covering them good. That's going to happen every now and then, but it happened too many times for us to win tonight. But, yeah, I was a little surprised and then the way we came back... We had some self-inflicted five-yard penalties, 10, five twice. Still to go down and score was really good resiliency for the offense even though they made the mistakes to put us in that situation. You can't watch the Hogs tonight and not be pleased with the effort and the fight these kids had."
Arkansas had used all its timeouts very early in the fourth quarter. So all they could do was try to get a stop on Daniels and LSU's offense. The Tigers then went on a nine-play, 72-yard drive that set up Ramos' winning field goal.
"We ran out of timeouts," Pittman said. "We couldn't get a play called. Couldn't get a play ran. They stood over the ball quite a length of time, and I ran out of timeouts. At the end, before somebody asks, did I think about letting them score? Yes, but I don't think they would have. I don't think they would have scored. We talked about it because I was out of timeouts, and I decided to come all out and try to jar a fumble. So, we went after them in those last plays. Could we have let them score? Absolutely. We talked about it. I thought our chances would be better off at that point with no timeouts trying to jar it looses and/or block or miss a field goal."
Arkansas (2-2, 0-1) will head to Arlington to face Texas A&M (3-1, 1-0) in AT&T Stadium at 11 am. Texas A&M defeated Auburn 27-10 on Saturday. On Saturday Arkansas once again had issues with penalties. After 14 for 125 yards last week they had 11 for 69 against LSU.