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LSU hands Arkansas first SEC loss

Nov 24, 2006 - 11:15 PM LITTLE ROCK, Arkansas (Ticker) -- Arkansas tailbacks Darren McFadden and Felix Jones ran the ball at will against Louisiana State. But quarterback Casey Dick could not complete a pass with the game on the line.

Dick capped a miserable afternoon with four straight incompletions as the fifth-ranked Razorbacks absorbed their first Southeastern Conference defeat of the season with a wild 31-26 setback to the ninth-ranked Tigers.

Dick completed just 3-of-17 passes for 29 yards, a touchdown and an interception for Arkansas (10-2, 7-1 SEC West), which had a 10-game winning streak snapped.

"I obviously didn't play to the best of my abilities and I take full responsibility for that," Dick said. "Now we just have to regroup just like we did after (a season-opening loss to) USC."

McFadden rushed for 182 yards and two touchdowns and Jones ran for 137 yards and a score for the Razorbacks, who already had wrapped up the SEC West title and a berth against Florida in next week's conference title game.

"It's definitely tough, but we just have to get back to work on Sunday," said McFadden, who set a single-season school record for rushing yards. "We still have a lot of focus on for next week."

JaMarcus Russell went 14-of-22 for 210 yards and two TDs for the Tigers (10-2, 6-2 West), who have won six straight games overall and five of six against the Razorbacks. They have an outside shot at an at-large berth to a BCS game.

"We've made a case for the BCS, certainly," LSU coach Les Miles said. "When they're picking the best team from the SEC, they'll have something to talk about."

With his team trailing, 17-12, early in the fourth quarter, Dick made a poor throw and was intercepted by Tigers defensive back LaRon Landry, who returned the ball 23 yards to the 9. Three plays later, Russell tossed a seven-yard touchdown to Early Doucet.

McFadden scored on an 80-yard run up the middle on the next scrimmage play to pull Arkansas within five points. But Trindon Holliday returned the ensuing kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and a 31-19 lead with 10:14 to go.

"To answer right there, the very next play, is so huge," Miles said. "When (Holliday) gets out in front, he's tough to catch."

Jones ran back the next kickoff 62 yards to the 37 and made it 31-26 with a five-yard run with 4:53 to play. The Razorbacks got back the ball at their 27 with 2:04 left, but Dick could not complete one pass.

"This is now how we wanted to end our regular season," Arkansas coach Houston Nutt said. "You've got to give LSU credit. You can't give them big plays, but we showed why we are going to Atlanta for the championship game."

There were 28 points scored in the fourth quarter - one fewer than in the first three periods.

McFadden opened the scoring with a one-yard run just 2 1/2 minutes into the game, but Jeremy Davis missed the extra point. LSU took a 7-6 lead on a 29-yard run by Keiland Williams later in the period, then opened an eight-point margin on a 47-yard pass from Russell to Craig Davis with 10:55 left in the second quarter.

Arkansas pulled within 14-12 midway through the period on a 21-yard TD pass from Dick to Marcus Monk, who broke several tackles on the play. Dick's two-point conversion pass to Jones failed.

LSU made it 17-12 on a 28-yard field goal by Colt David with 7:24 to play in the third quarter. The Tigers could have extended their lead, but running back Alley Broussard lost a fumble at the Arkansas 17 five minutes later.

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