Jackson accounts for 4 TDs as No. 17 Louisville romps
LOUISVILLE — Quarterback Lamar Jackson was on the field for only one half Saturday, which was enough time to reinforce the 2016 Heisman Trophy winner’s reputation.
“He’s a freak of nature,” Louisville receiver Dez Fitzpatrick said. “Honestly, I’ve never seen anything like it before, and I’m just blessed playing with him.”
Jackson passed for 237 yards and three touchdowns and also ran for 100 yards as No. 17 Louisville crushed in-state FCS foe Murray State 55-10 Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.
“It was a good day for us. I thought our players came out and did what we were supposed to do,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “Obviously we should beat that team, but I like the way we prepared throughout the week.”
Jackson rushed for a touchdown among his seven carries. His exit from the game came with the Cardinals up 35-3 and in complete control at halftime.
“We just wanted him to execute,” Petrino said. “And he did that. We had some planned runs for him and he did those well, including a couple of long runs. We were able to spread the ball around and get a lot of guys to touch it.”
Louisville (4-1) held the Racers to just 19 yards rushing on 22 attempts. Murray State (1-4) managed just 80 total yards on 42 plays.
“The biggest thing is we accomplished is what we set out to do, and that was to play this game with a lot of enthusiasm and high effort,” Murray State coach Mitch Stewart said.
“We wanted to have a lot of fun and I thought the guys did that. ... We don’t get very many opportunities to play in an atmosphere like this.”
Louisville’s first touchdown came on Jackson’s 2-yard scamper after he had rushed 22 yards on the previous play.
Murray State responded with 36-yard field goal from Gabriel Vincente, but Jackson found Fitzpatrick for a 9-yard touchdown pass late in the first quarter to cap a two-play, 21-yard drive after a Racers’ fumble.
Louisville made it 21-3 with a 9-yard pass from Jackson to Fitzpatrick with 11:44 left in the second quarter. The Cardinals pushed their lead to 28-3 on a seven-play, 83-yard scoring drive that was capped by an 8-yard pass from Jackson to senior tight end Charles Standberry with 8:18 left in the second quarter.
“He’s the best player in the country,” Stewart said of Jackson. “I was stunned when I saw him warm up. He looks like a wide receiver, he runs around like a wide receiver. And he can spin it.”
The Cardinals amassed 386 yards by halftime and turned to redshirt freshman quarterback Jawon “Puma” Pass in the second half.
Pass fumbled the first snap of the second half and it was kicked forward and into the hands of Murray State’s Jason Johnson, who sprinted 23 yards into the end zone for the Racers’ lone touchdown.
“It was great to get a lot of players in today,” Petrino said. “That’s really what we wanted to do. I really wanted to get Puma (Jawon Pass) in there with the No. 1 offense. And I thought he did a good job with the exception of the first snap.”
The Cardinals got a 37-yard field goal from Blanton Creque to push ahead 38-10 and then extended the lead to 45-10 on a 14-yard touchdown pass from Pass to Javonte Bagley with 7:10 left in the third quarter.
“I told y’all he’s good,” Jackson said of Pass. “He’s big, he can run and he can really spin it. I tried to tell y’all. I’m his biggest fan over there on the sideline.”
Pass added a touchdown in the fourth quarter, a 2-yard plunge into the end zone to put Louisville up 55-10. That capped an 18-play, 98-yard touchdown drive that ate up most of the fourth quarter.
NOTES: Louisville QB Lamar Jackson, who played just 40 snaps, became Louisville’s all-time leader in points responsible for with his first touchdown of the game. He ended the game with four touchdowns. ... Louisville’s leading WR, Jaylen Smith, was out for the game because of a wrist injury. ... Louisville preseason All-American CB Jaire Alexander did not play; he has been recovering from a knee injury suffered in the first half of Louisville’s first game. ... Murray State freshman QB Corey Newble was 9 of 17 for 64 yards and had a team-high 10 yards rushing.