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Jennings leads LSU past Arkansas
Baton Rouge, LA (SportsNetwork.com) - Freshman Anthony Jennings' first-career touchdown pass to Travin Dural with 1:15 remaining proved to be the difference in No. 15 LSU's 31-27 win over the Arkansas Razorbacks in the 18th annual battle for the Golden Boot.
Jennings, who took over for starter Zach Mettenberger after the senior went down with a left knee injury midway through the fourth, led a 99-yard touchdown drive in the final minutes to keep "The Boot" in Baton Rouge for another season.
"I was calm and relaxed because I knew my teammates around me had my back," Jennings said.
LSU (9-3, 5-3 SEC) has taken down Arkansas (3-9, 0-8) in three straight meetings.
The Tigers began the decisive drive from inside their own 1-yard line after a 65-yard Sam Irwin-Hill punt with just over three minutes left pinned them deep. Jennings did a quick sneak for two yards before completing passes to Dillon Gordon and Jarvis Landry for first downs. Jennings then scampered 21 yards into Arkansas territory before unleashing a throw down the field on 3rd- and-10 for a wide open Dural, who hauled in the 49-yard touchdown to the delight of the home crowd.
Arkansas picked up a quick first down on its final drive but Dwayne Thomas sacked Brandon Allen and forced a fumble, which Jermauria Rasco pounced on to seal the win and a perfect home record for LSU.
Mettenberger, who became the third LSU quarterback to surpass 3,000 passing yards for a season earlier in the contest, completed 14-of-22 for 156 yards and an interception before exiting. Jeremy Hill carried 20 times for 145 yards and a touchdown while Terrence Magee gained 58 yards on the ground with two scores.
Allen threw for 178 yards, two touchdowns and an interception on 19-of-29 efficiency for Arkansas, which dropped its last nine games of the season after starting 3-0. Hunter Henry caught both of his touchdown passes.
"I just wanted to give these seniors that Golden Boot trophy and see them run across the field. I wanted to see them celebrate. I wanted our guys to taste it," Arkansas head coach Bret Bielema said.
Arkansas went three-and-out on its first drive and LSU took advantage, taking an early 7-0 lead less than four minutes in on Magee's 29-yard touchdown burst. Mettenberger completed a pair of third down conversions to Landry and Odell Beckham for 17 and 16 yards, respectively, before Magee took a pitch and sprinted down the right sideline to the end zone.
The Razorbacks responded with a touchdown drive of their own on the ensuing touch. A 43-yard pitch and catch with Keon Hatcher on the second play put Arkansas in LSU territory. Kiero Small capped the eight-play drive with a 3- yard touchdown plunge.
LSU regained the lead on Magee's second score of the contest late in the first, but Arkansas came with some trickery to once again tie it midway through the second period. Allen faked a handoff to the left before flipping the ball to Javontee Herndon, who made a few defenders miss during a 42-yard run to the LSU 9. Arkansas hurried to the line and on play-action, Allen found Henry wide open in the back of the end zone.
Zach Hocker kicked a 20-yard field goal as the half came to a close following Mettenberger's fumble and the Razorbacks led 17-14 at intermission. It was their first halftime lead since Sept. 21 against Rutgers.
Hocker added to the lead with another short kick early in the second half, but less than two minutes later, LSU jumped back in front on Hill's 52-yard touchdown rush.
The resilient Razorbacks marched down the field in 15 plays on the next series and went ahead 27-21 with 50 seconds left in the third on Allen's 2-yard touchdown toss to Henry.
LSU's second to last drive stalled after Mettenberger's injury, and Colby Delahoussaye drilled a 37-yard field goal with 4:56 left in the game for a 27-24 margin. The Tigers' defense then forced a three-and-out, setting up Jennings' late heroics.
LSU finished with a perfect record at home for the fourth time in five seasons ... The Tigers improved to 24-1 under Les Miles following a loss ... LSU is 31-1 in its last 32 games at Tiger Stadium ... Landry had eight receptions for 113 yards.
11/30 02:56:40 ET