No. 19 Louisville rolls past Kent State
LOUISVILLE, Ky. -- Coming off a loss to Clemson in a game with national title implications, Louisville finds itself in a bit of a schedule lull.
The only thing to do is exactly what the Cardinals did Saturday. No. 19 Louisville wasted no time in putting away hapless Kent State, scoring 21 first-quarter points en route to a 42-3 win at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
“We basically came out, took care of business and did what we were supposed to do,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said.
Louisville (3-1) plays host to FCS foe Murray State next week before things get interesting again with a Thursday night game on Oct. 5 at North Carolina State -- an upset winner at No. 12 Florida State on Saturday.
The Cardinals pounced on Kent State (1-3) behind quarterback Lamar Jackson, the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner, who found tight end Jordan Davis for a 69-yard completion on the first play of the game. Louisville scored on Malik Williams’ 3-yard run three plays later.
“I like that we took the ball right down the field and scored,” Petrino said. “I also liked what we did just before the half. It was a nice two-minute drive and we did a nice job executing it. ... I thought Lamar made really good decisions.”
Jackson completed 18 of 22 passes for 299 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions. He ran eight times for 34 yards and a score. Jackson broke the school record for touchdowns responsible for in a career. He now has 89. The old record belonged to quarterback Chris Redman, who had 87 from 1996-1999.
“I‘m not trying to set records,” Jackson said. “I‘m just trying to put my team in a good situation and win games. That’s all it’s about. If records come, they come.”
Louisville committed four turnovers -- two interceptions and two fumbles -- which made Petrino unhappy. He said the team has been working on ball security in practice for weeks. He also pointed out that one of Jackson’s interceptions wasn’t on Jackson.
“The ball was right in Dez’s (Fitzpatrick) hands, he should make that catch,” Petrino said. “And the other one, I don’t know what the heck happened on that one.”
Kent State, which lost starting quarterback Nick Holley to an ACL tear last week, attempted only five passes, completing two for 11 yards. Dustin Crum ran 18 times for 62 yards for the Golden Flashes, who gained just 150 total yards.
“I thought the defense did a good job of controlling the line of scrimmage and being physical,” Petrino said. “I like the way we tackled and it was good to get a whole bunch of guys in there and get experience. Obviously we weren’t challenged with the passing game at all.”
Turnovers aside, Louisville’s offense was dominant. On Louisville’s third drive, Williams broke free for a 33-yard touchdown scamper with 2:51 in the first quarter, capping a seven-play, 89-yard drive.
The Cardinals scored again just three plays later on an interception return for a touchdown. Cornerback Tru Washington, who earlier dropped a would-be interception that he likely could have returned for a touchdown, picked off a tipped pass and returned it 37 yards for a score.
Up 21-0 at the end of the first quarter, Louisville coughed up turnovers on its next two possessions, the second of which led to a 48-yard field goal by Kent State to cut the lead to 21-3.
Louisville responded quickly, marching 75 yards in just eight plays, capped by a 13-yard run by Jackson for his first touchdown of the game. Jackson added a pair of passing touchdowns in the third quarter, one to Seth Dawkins for 32 yards and another to Javonte Bagley for 15 yards to put Louisville up 42-3.
Kent State coach Paul Haynes, who missed time earlier this season as he battled prostate cancer, was in the coaching booth for Saturday’s game.
“I still don’t feel 100 percent,” Haynes said, noting that he was sore after jogging onto the field last week. “The message is to keep fighting. I encourage everyone to go get tested (for prostate cancer). It’s just a blood test. Every male should go get tested.”
NOTES: Louisville’s leading wide receiver, Jaylen Smith, and starting tight end, Micky Crum, were out for the game. Smith is out with a wrist injury and Crum was withheld due to injury. ... Louisville’s preseason All-American CB Jaire Alexander also did not play; he has been recovering from a knee injury suffered in the first half of Louisville’s first game. ... A squirrel ran onto the FieldTurf in the second quarter and ran to midfield. The squirrel ran into the end zone -- to a loud cheer from the crowd -- before getting caught in a bag on the sideline.