Louisiana State's defense had withstood too many close games to get rattled — even under threat of blowing a berth in the Southeastern...
BATON ROUGE, La. — Louisiana State’s defense had withstood too many close games to get rattled — even under threat of blowing a berth in the Southeastern Conference title game.
A trick play had Arkansas 33 yards from erasing a two-point deficit and scoring a stunning upset in the waning minutes Friday, but the third-ranked Tigers drove the Razorbacks backward to seal a 19-17 victory and a spot in the SEC championship game against No. 13 Georgia next Saturday.
“I was saying, ‘We’ve been here before. Don’t put your head down, just fight through it,’ ” said safety LaRon Landry, whose interception in the end zone ended Arkansas’ final drive. “Why should you get nervous? Just make it happen. When you find yourself getting nervous, that’s when bad things happen.”
JaMarcus Russell threw a touchdown pass and Justin Vincent ran for a score to help LSU (10-1 overall, 7-1 SEC) beat Arkansas (4-7, 2-6) for the third straight year and take the SEC West title.
Arkansas refused to relent after falling behind 19-3 early in the second half.
Arkansas coach Houston Nutt was proud of his players — 17 ½-point underdogs — for not giving up, but he struggled to let go of a few key errors. A safety for LSU came on a bad snap by Arkansas, and Razorbacks kicker Chris Balseiro missed field-goal attempts of 41 and 28 yards.
“When we had to make some plays, when you go back and look, we missed some opportunities,” Nutt said. “That’s what hurts. There were one or two plays if we just could have gotten three more points, as y’all know, it’s a whole different outcome.”
Five of LSU’s victories this season — including those over Florida, Auburn and Alabama — came by four points or fewer.
“Time and time again we had to turn to the defense, and the defense came through,” first-year LSU coach Les Miles said. “There were miscues on the offense … but the defense came to play, and we won.”
Skyler Green’s 40-yard kickoff return led to Vincent’s 4-yard TD that made it 19-3.
It was the last game at Tiger Stadium for 21 LSU seniors. The Tigers are 50-13 during the past four seasons, including a BCS national championship.