By CODY WORSHAM | Tiger Rag Editor
FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. — What hangover?
LSU, for the first time since 2013, shrugged off a loss to Alabama with a win over Arkansas, riding 252 yards and a record-breaking run from Derrius Guice, three scores from Leonard Fournette, and yet another dominant defensive display to a 31-10 victory in Razorback Stadium on Saturday night.
“We came to play,” said LSU head coach Ed Orgeron.
Fournette did all his damage in the first 2-and-1/2 quarters, leaving midway through the third after re-injuring his left ankle. He tallied 142 total yards — 98 rushing, 44 receiving — to help build a 28-10 lead before departing.
Guice finished in fine fashion, racking up 219 yards and his two scores — including a school-record 96-yard scamper on the game’s final touchdown — after halftime. His 252 yards came on just 21 carries and would have set a single-game school rushing record, if not for Fournette’s 284-yard performance three weeks ago against Ole Miss.
“When one man goes down, another runs in,” said Fournette. “We don’t miss a heartbeat.”
“He’ll break one, then I’ll come in and break one,” added Guice. “The O-line really wore them down. We wore down the guys behind the line of scrimmage, and the receivers wore them down too. It was really a team effort.”
The Tiger defense, meanwhile, held a high-octane Arkansas attack to 291 yards and forced three turnovers in the win. Donnie Alexander picked off his first career pass, Dwayne Thomas snatched another, and Kendell Beckwith recovered a fumble in the endzone as Dave Aranda’s men surrendered just a single touchdown, one small blemish on yet another gem.
“We’re a talented defense,” said Orgeron. “A very well coached defense. We decided we were going to play every play and contest every ball. Take it one play at a time and fight, and we did.”
Aranda’s group limited Arkansas to a mere 81 rushing yards, while holding Austin Allen to 15-of-31 passing, 210 yards, 1 touchdown and 2 interceptions. Allen entered the game second in the SEC in passer efficiency at 148.8 on the season. He finished the night with a 103 passer rating, his second-worst outing of the year.
“We’re getting better every week, and we still have ways to improve,” said defensive end Davon Godchaux, who finished with five tackles, 0.5 for loss and 0.5 sacks. “That’s the crazy thing. We allowed 10 points tonight. We shouldn’t have allowed 10 points.”
LSU (6-3, 4-2 SEC) started fast, marching 75 yards on its first drive for a five-yard Fournette score — the first time all season the Tigers have punched it in on their opening possession. Fournette set himself up for the touchdown by taking an Etling swing pass 38 yards on a third down play just prior.
“It worked,” Fournette said of the call.
The Tigers had less ground to cover on their next score. Donnie Alexander’s interception of an Austin Allen throw gave LSU the ball at the 18, and Fournette covered them all in three carries — the last a 6-yard score for a 14-0 lead eight seconds into the second quarter.
Guice made it 21-0 with a three-yard score, two plays after Etling hit Dupre for a 48-yard play-action completion. Etling finished a steady 10-of-16 passing for 146 yards.
“Cool, calm and collected,” said Fournette. “That’s Danny.”
Allen got one back with a 44-yard touchdown to Dominique Reed. On third and 22, Allen hit Reed, guarded closely by Tre’Davious White, on a go route for a 21-7 score with 5:52 left in the half. White slowed when he turned to find the ball, allowing Reed to make the play and surrendering the first catch of the season on balls thrown in his direction 10 or more yards downfield.
Arkansas threatened early in the third quarter, as the Tigers got off on the wrong foot in the second half. Fournette coughed one up on third and 18, and Rummel grad Dwayne Eugene recovered at the LSU 28. Adam McFain’s 24 yard field goal five plays later pulled Arkansas within 21-10.
Fournette avenged his mistake immediately. His third touchdown of the game capped off a 7-play, 81-yard LSU drive that featured six straight runs, including a 38-yard scamper by Guice and Fournette’s three-yard score, good for a 28-10 LSU lead.
It would be his last major contribution of the night. Fournette left the game mid-way through the third quarter, his ankle injury exacerbated once again.
Guice was happy to take over. He tallied 65 yards on LSU’s subsequent 13-play, 84-yard scoring drive spanning 6:55. Colby Delahoussaye chipped in from 19 yards for a 31-10 Tiger lead with 6:55 to play.
“We’re two different running backs,” Fournette said of he and Guice. “If he was anywhere else, he’d be a starter. He did a wonderful job today. That comes from our coach Jabaar Juluke. He worked us harder during practice to run more physical, never let one man take you down, just be special.”
The next drive was a bit quicker. Guice took a handoff from Danny Etling 96 yards for a 38-10 lead with 6:04 to play. It was both the longest play from scrimmage and the longest run in school history, better than the 94 yard scores by Sal Nicolo vs. Rice in 1952 and Jess Fatheree vs. Georgia in 1935.
“It’s about time he scores,” Fournette joked of Guice. “I’m tired of seeing him get hawked down. That was exciting.”
Arkansas looked to score on their next drive, when Austin Allen found Jeremy Sprinkle on a 10-yard catch initially ruled a score. But the play was overturned upon review, and Kendell Beckwith recovered a Devwah Whaley fumble on the ensuing play to wrap the game up on a high note for the Tigers.
LSU takes on Florida next week at noon in Tiger Stadium, in a game rescheduled from October and moved from Gainesville to Baton Rouge.
“This is a new team, new mindset,” said Orgeron. “We do things different, we act different, and you saw that tonight.”