BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) – No. 3 LSU won with clutch defense yet again, wrapping up a berth in the Southeastern Conference championship game.

JaMarcus Russell threw a 50-yard touchdown pass and Justin Vincent ran for a 4-yard score to help LSU take 19-17 victory over Arkansas on Friday in the battle for “The Boot.”

The Tigers (10-1, 7-1 SEC) also registered their second safety in as many games after forcing Arkansas to punt from the back of its own end zone late in the first half, earning two points that proved critical when Arkansas (4-7, 2-6) refused to relent after falling behind 19-3 early in the second half.

LSU had to have the victory to clinch the SEC West and now will face Georgia in the conference championship game in Atlanta on Dec. 3, the second time in three years those two teams have met to decide the SEC.

The Tigers held Arkansas standout freshman Darren McFadden to 57 yards on 24 carries, leaving McFadden at 1,113 for the season.

But McFadden still made his presence felt. His 13-yard gain on a third-and-9 play kept alive a drive that got Arkansas back in the game, at 19-11, on Casey Dick’s 29-yard touchdown pass to Cedric Washington with 4:16 left in the third quarter.

Trickery got the Razorbacks even closer when Dick threw a backward pass to Washington, who then found Peyton Hillis all the way across the field for a 45-yard gain to the LSU 4. McFadden’s 1-yard touchdown made it 19-17 with 10:43 to go, but the Razorbacks’ two-point conversion attempt was intercepted by Chevis Jackson.

LSU’s defense, which has held opponents to 20 points or less during every game of the Tigers’ current nine-game winning streak, closed the game out from there. It started with an impressive stand after Arkansas regained possession on Vickiel Vaughn’s interception near mid field. The Hogs’ next three plays went for minus-13 yards. LSU did not allow a first down on Arkansas’ next drive, either.

The Razorbacks got the ball back once more with 3:44 left at mid field. The Razorbacks stayed alive on a fourth-and-6 with a successful halfback pass from McFadden to Marcus Monk for 13 yards to the LSU 33.

LSU locked down Arkansas after that. Melvin Oliver sacked Dick back at the 41, and a fourth-and-18 pass was intercepted in the end zone.

It was the last game in Tiger Staduim for 21 LSU seniors. The Tigers are now 50-13 during the past four seasons, including a BCS national championship two seasons ago under former coach Nick Saban.

LSU led 12-3 at halftime as special teams’ gaffes hurt Arkansas. The Razorbacks missed a 41-yard field goal in the first quarter and allowed a safety on a bad snap to the punter.

Colt David’s 26-yard field goal and Russell’s 50-yard bomb to Bennie Brazell along the right sideline gave LSU a 10-0 lead.

Dick, a freshman, was erratic early, completing only four of his first 12 passes for 75 yards. But His 55-yard connection with Monk led to Chris Balseiro’s 30-yard field goal.

LSU opened the second half by widening its led to 19-3 on a nine-play, 50-yard drive set up by Skyler Green’s 40-yard kickoff return. It ended with Vincent pounding his way through the line and into the end zone.

Russell finished with 194 yards passing but threw two interceptions. Vincent led the Tigers with 59 yards rushing but fumbled on the Arkansas 35 with the Tigers threatening to put the game away.

Dick finished 12-for-28 for 148 yards.


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