Jim Harris: LSU Gets Its Kicks, While Arkansas Falls Shy

by Jim Harris  on Saturday, Nov. 28, 2009 11:35 pm  

This story is from the archives of ArkansasSports360.com.

BATON ROUGE - When it came down to placekickers, LSU's was perfect and Arkansas' was not. Josh Jasper was the hero for LSU in a 33-30 overtime win. Alex Tejada, as well as he kicked all night until overtime, became the goat.

As they say, placekicking is a thankless job. Kicks from inside 40 yards are supposed to be made routinely on this level. But for two years now, that's not been the case for Arkansas.

It may sound like a similar refrain for Tejada every time he has an important field goal to make. But, truth is, Tejada has been solid for the Hogs' last six games. On Saturday night, he made every kick he had to, except the last one that would have extended the game.

Jasper, who didn't get a chance last week to win the Tigers' game at Ole Miss at the finish after some offensive ineptitude from the LSU sideline, was cool as ice from 41 yards in tying Saturday night's game at 30-all with four seconds left.

So, for the Hogs' second straight trip to Tiger Stadium, Arkansas and LSU went to overtime. This one should have gone at least two, if not the three OT's we saw in 2007 when the Razorbacks prevailed 50-48 over the eventual national champs.

All LSU could manage was six yards on its OT possession, and Jasper hit on fourth down from 36 yards.

Arkansas messed up its first two snaps on its possession, and on fourth down still needed three yards to move the chains. So, from 36 yards, and from the right hash mark - where it seems Tejada has his most difficulty - the kick stayed outside the right upright.

It was obvious in the media room 15 minutes after the game that the result ate deeply in UA coach Bobby Petrino's gut, having the contest come down to a foot that under pressure has been shaky for two years. Two games could have gone Arkansas' way in 2008 if not for Tejada misses, and two games in 2009 will be viewed likewise. Last year, the games were against Southeastern Conference also-rans Mississippi State and Kentucky. This year, they were against No. 1 Florida and LSU, the league's third-best team. Perhaps that shows how far Petrino's program has come in a year - that the close games are with the SEC's dominant programs now.

"He had to go out there and kick the ball through the uprights," Petrino said of Tejada. "He did it all game long and made some nice kicks during the game. I have a lot of confidence in him. Unfortunately, he just missed."

While the game still came down to that final kick, it may have long been decided in Arkansas' favor much earlier had the Razorbacks not settled for field goals at the end of promising drives. LSU had to kick three in regulation, too, but Arkansas assistant coach Paul Petrino was lamenting his team's reliance on the kicks, including in the overtime when a touchdown would win.

"You can't settle for field goals when you're playing a good team like that. When you get down there you get touchdowns," he said.

Arkansas, down 17-6 at intermission, made a halftime adjustment to attack LSU with its running game. "They were running a lot of three-down [linemen] and we just took that first drive and ran it right down the field," Paul Petrino said. "Actually, I thought the whole second half we executed pretty well. We scored nearly every time we had the ball. We just didn't need to settle for a field goal that one time. We needed to score a touchdown that drive and in overtime."



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