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Razorbacks Clinch SEC West Title with Improbab

BY ANDRES FOCIL
Razorbacks Clinch SEC West Title with Improbab

Little Rock, Ark. – Trailing by six with less than 20 seconds left in the game, Arkansas quarterback Matt Jones found DeCori Birmingham in the back of the end zone for a 31-yard touchdown to tie the game at 20-20 with nine seconds left.

Following a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty for excessive celebration, David Carlton hit an 35-yard point after touchdown to give the Razorbacks a 21-20 victory and the Southeastern Conference Western Division title.
Arkansas will now travel to Atlanta to face the Georgia Bulldogs next Saturday at 5 p.m. CT in the Georgia Dome for the SEC Championship. Arkansas finishes the regular season with a 9-3 overall record and a 5-3 mark in the SEC. LSU fell to 8-4 overall and 5-3 in the SEC.
“We always teach our kids to never give up as long as there are seconds on the clock,” Arkansas head coach Houston Nutt said. “There was so much emotion. I love our players and they never gave up. You never count Matt Jones out, he’s definitely a winner.”
The Razorbacks trailed 17-7 to start the fourth quarter, but rallied to score two touchdowns in the final 6:33 to claim their third SEC Western Division crown and earn their second berth in the SEC title game.
Arkansas won the West in 1995 and 1998, but made only one appearance in the championship game in 1995.
Jones completed just 4-of-16 pass attempts, with two of those completions coming on the final drive of the game. Jones finished with 127 yards passing with one touchdown and one interception.
Fred Talley led all rushers with 118 yards on 15 carries and one touchdown. Richard Smith had two catches for 61 yards while George Wilson had one catch for 35 yards and Birmingham had one reception for 31 yards.
The Razorbacks racked up 372 yards of total offense in the game while LSU gained 353 yards.
LSU quarterback Marcus Randall completed 14-of-25 attempts for 203 yards and one touchdown. Randall also ran for 26 yards on 10 carries with one score.
Domanick Davis led the Tigers with 67 yards on 14 carries. Skyler Green had three catches for 92 yards with one score.
After forcing the Razorbacks to punt on their first possession of the game, the LSU Tigers needed just eight plays to get on the scoreboard.
On third-and-15 from their 33-yard line, Randall hit Green on a 67-yard throw-and-catch for the first touchdown of the game.
The 67-yard touchdown was the second longest offensive scoring play against the Razorbacks this season and the third longest scoring play overall.
Arkansas missed a chance to tie the game after driving inside the LSU 15-yard line midway through the second quarter. On third down, LSU forced Jones out of the pocket. Jones then threw into the end zone for Smith, but the pass was intercepted by LSU’s Corey Webster.
Just before halftime, LSU took over at its nine-yard line with 3:18 remaining in the half. The Tigers marched 58 yards in 11 plays to take a 10-0 lead on John Corbello’s 49-yard field goal as time expired.
Defense dominated the first half as LSU managed 166 yards of offense while holding Arkansas to 122 yards of total offense.
Arkansas forced LSU to punt on its first possession of the second half and promptly marched 61 yards in eight plays to make it a 10-7 game.
Jones hit Wilson for a 35-yard gain to put the Hogs on the LSU 15-yard line. After a succession of running plays, the Hogs faced a fourth-and-goal at the one-yard line. Fullback Mark Pierce broke the plane of the end zone to put the Razorbacks on the scoreboard.
LSU answered the Hogs’ score on the ensuing possession with an 89-yard drive the culminated with Randall scrambling in from five yards out to give the Tigers a 17-7 lead with 5:34 left in the third quarter.
The Tigers moved into Arkansas territory on a 48-yard throw-and-catch from Randall to Michael Clayton.
After a series of punts by both teams, the Razorbacks offense began to click. With less than seven minutes left in the game, the Hogs faced a second-and-20 from their 44-yard line. Fred Talley burst through the line and scampered 56-yards to the end zone to pull the Hogs within 17-14 with 6:33 remaining.
Talley’s run put him over the 100-yard rushing mark for the game and gave him more than 1,000 yards rushing for the season. Talley became the first Razorback since Madre Hill in 1995 to hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark.
LSU appeared to put the game away on the ensuing possession. The Tigers drove 53 yards in 13 plays and took 5:53 off the clock to take a 20-14 lead on Corbello’s 29-yard field goal.
The Razorbacks returned the ensuing kickoff to the 19-yard line with 40 seconds remaining on the clock. On the first play, Jones hit Smith 50 yards downfield to put the Hogs on the LSU 31-yard line with 27 seconds remaining.
Following an incomplete pass, Jones threw deep to Birmingham who snared the pass out of the air and just out of reach of an LSU defender for the tying score.





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