BATON ROUGE, La. -- Reserve quarterback Anthony Jennings, who had thrown only three passes all season, replaced injured starter Zach Mettenberger in the fourth quarter and fired a 49-yard touchdown pass to backup wide receiver Travin Dural with 1:15 left to lift No. 15 LSU to an improbable 31-27 victory over Arkansas on Friday afternoon at Tiger Stadium.
With Mettenberger sitting on the bench with a left knee injury, Jennings entered the game with seven minutes left and LSU trailing 27-21 with the ball at the Arkansas 21-yard line. Mettenberger was injured on a 32-yard pass to Jarvis Landry when his leg was hit by linebacker Byran Jones just after releasing the pass.
LSU, a 24 1/2-point favorite, settled for a 37-yard field goal by Colby Delahoussaye to cut the deficit to 27-24 with 4:56 left.
After forcing an Arkansas punt -- which was blown dead at the LSU 1 -- Jennings needed to go at least 70 yards to set up a realistic shot at a tying field goal.
He got more than that.
After scrambling for 21 yards to the Arkansas 49, Jennings spotted Dural racing down the left sideline past cornerback Jared Collins, and the 49-yard score put LSU (9-3 overall, 5-3 SEC) ahead for good.
LSU cornerback Dwayne Thomas iced the game on Arkansas' last possession by forcing a blindside fumble by quarterback Brandon Allen, who had thrown two touchdown passes to tight end Hunter Henry to put Arkansas in position for the upset.
Arkansas hurt its cause by failing to capitalize fully on two Mettenberger turnovers -- a fumble on a sack near the end of the first half and an interception on a high pass during LSU's first possession of the third quarter. The Razorbacks had to settle for 20- and 28-yard field goals by Zach Hocker after getting the ball twice inside the LSU 39. They still led 20-14.
LSU regained the lead at 21-20 with 7:35 left in the third quarter on Jeremy Hill's explosive 52-yard run off left tackle. But Arkansas came right back, driving 75 yards on 15 plays to take a 27-21 lead on Allen's 2-yard flip to tight end Hunter Henry on a blown coverage.
The Arkansas score was set up by defensive end Anthony Johnson's fourth offsides penalty of the game -- this one on fourth-and-4 as the Razorbacks moved into an offensive set in a successful attempt to draw a penalty.
LSU moved to the Arkansas 17 on a 13-yard drive that ate up half the fourth quarter, but the Tigers bogged down once again, with Hill getting caught short of a first down on a fourth-down reception.
Coming off a dominant 34-10 rout of Texas A&M six days earlier, LSU looked emotionally flat against the Razorbacks in the first half. The Tigers raced to a 14-7 first-quarter lead on touchdown runs of 29 and 23 yards by Terrence Magee, but Arkansas didn't blink.
Even though the Razorbacks had a 100-yard kickoff return by Karliss Marshall wiped out by an illegal block on Daunte Carr, they marched 86 yards in eight plays to tie the score at 7 on a 3-yard run by Kiero Small out of the wildcat formation.
Then, trailing 14-7, the Razorbacks uncorked another 86-yard drive to tie the score. The big play on the drive came on third-and-1, with wide receiver Javontee Herndon taking a pitch around right end for a 42-yard gain to the LSU 9. On the next play, safety Rickey Jefferson bit on a play-action fake and tight end Hunter Henry was wide open in the back of the end zone to haul in a soft toss by Allen.
LSU cornerback Jalen Mills made a diving end zone interception to snuff out another Arkansas drive, but Mettenberger gave the ball right back on a sack by linebacker Braylon Mitchell with a fumble that defensive end Brandon Lewis recovered at the LSU 28 with 2:03 left in the half.
Arkansas had a first-and-goal at the LSU 5, but on third down from the 4, Small was tackled by safety Craig Loston on a wildcat play and the Razorbacks settled for a 20-yard field goal by Hocker and a 17-14 halftime lead.
NOTES: LSU WR Odell Beckham Jr. sustained a right hip flexor injury on a 20-yard reverse midway through the second quarter and did not return. ... RB Alex Collins became the first true freshman to rush for 1,000 yards for Arkansas since Darren McFadden in 2005. He leads all freshmen running backs in the nation in rushing yardage.