Perkins Jr. at LSU. hogties Arkansas in a defensive struggle

1 day ago
Associated Press

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – LSU coach Brian Kelly told Harold Perkins Jr. he reminded him of Michael Jordan after the seventh-ranked Tigers beat Arkansas 13-10 on Saturday.

The freshman linebacker, whose sack Arkansas quarterback Cade Fortin had with 1:17 left in the win and kept LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes alive, had the flu before the teams started, the coach said.

When Kelly told Perkins that his try against the Razorbacks reminded him of MJ against the Jazz in 1997, Kelly said the teenager responded, “Who’s MJ?”

Perkins finished with two forced fumbles, four sacks and eight tackles. His teammate Mekhi Wingo drove in the loose ball at the Arkansas 44 to give LSU (8-2, 6-1 Southeastern Conference) the win.

LSU’s defense allowed 249 yards to Arkansas’ offense, which by the end of the game was down to its third-string quarterback.

The Razorbacks (5-5, 2-4) tried to rally in the fourth quarter when Fortin came on in the third inning to replace an ineffective Malik Hornsby. Fortin threw a 40-yard touchdown pass to Matt Landers with 13:12 left to pull Arkansas within three.

But LSU’s offense was slightly better, gaining 284 yards — more than 150 below its season average. Josh Williams rushed for 122 of those yards and scored the Tigers’ only touchdown, a 1-yarder, late in the third quarter to give LSU a 10-point lead. Only one of the Tigers’ 13 drives yielded more than 40 yards.

“We’re a long way from being a finished product,” Kelly said. “I don’t think anyone in this dressing room thinks we’ve arrived.

Arkansas sacked LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels seven times and limited the SEC’s leading rusher at the position to 10 yards on 19 carries. Daniels completed 8 of 15 passes for 86 yards and an interception.

“I think the defense played so well that it gave us a chance. They kept us in,” Arkansas coach Sam Pittman said. “I thought when Landers got the long we were going to rally around it and it seemed to be the same story. Just couldn’t seem to find a way to be consistent.”

LSU forced Arkansas’ hand by stifling Hornsby, who rushed for 37 yards on 18 carries and completed 4 of 9 passes for 24 yards. Daniels found Kayshon Boutte for a 26-yard gain on one pass one play before Williams’ touchdown with 5:25 left in the third quarter.

The Razorbacks were without regular starter KJ Jefferson and announced minutes before kickoff that Jefferson would not play due to a shoulder injury. Fortin finished 8 of 13 for 92 yards with the score and the fumble.

LSU can clinch the SEC West and a berth in the SEC Championship with a win in the season finale in two weeks against Texas A&M.

“We have a lot of work to do to make this trip, but we’re still finding ways to win football games,” Kelly said.

JUST LIKE THE OLD DAYS

Arkansas’ 249 yards are the fewest LSU has allowed an SEC opponent to gain since Texas A&M managed just 169 in 2019. LSU won the national championship that season.

INJURY TOLL

Arkansas entered Saturday with the 13th-best total offensive output in the FBS. Jefferson threw for 17 touchdowns against three interceptions and rushed for 425 yards and six scores.

LSU was able to pack the defense into the box without Jefferson behind center.

“There doesn’t seem to be much success in any of that right now,” Pittman said. “And part of that is they have to respect that the quarterback is going to pull the ball and throw it and if they don’t, you’re in trouble.”

PROVISIONS OF SURVEY

LSU isn’t likely to make a leap in terms of scoring, but the Tigers won a game they couldn’t afford to lose.

TAKE IT

LSU: Looks a lot different Saturday than last week’s win over Alabama. LSU’s College Football Playoff hopes may hinge on which teams show up in each game.

Arkansas: Missed bowl eligibility and fell to .500 in Sam Pittman’s third season. Arkansas won nine games last year.

UP NEXT

LSU: Hosts UAB on Nov. 19.

Arkansas: Hosts Ole Miss on Nov. 19 in their last home game of the season.

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