CRAWFORD | Jackson engineers historic Louisville comeback to bea - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Jackson engineers historic Louisville comeback to beat Kentucky, 38-24

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Lamar Jackson. AP photo. Lamar Jackson. AP photo.

LEXINGTON, Ky. (WDRB) -- Lamar Jackson made some history on Saturday. After a nightmare start, falling behind arch-rival Kentucky 21-0, the Cardinals stormed back when the speedy freshman entered the game.

The Cardinals completely dominated the game's final three quarters to finish the biggest comeback the school has had since storming back to beat Tulane in the 1987 season-opener. Jackson finished with 186 yards rushing and 130 through the air and Louisville won going away at Kentucky, 38-24, before a soggy crowd announced at 62,512 in Commonwealth Stadium.

The loss dropped Kentucky to 5-7 on the season and in all likelihood will keep them out of a bowl game (some 5-7 teams are likely to get bowl bids). Louisville finishes at 7-5, and has won five straight against the Wildcats.

Here's how it unfolded, from the WDRB live blog, with the final stats:



1:57: Patrick Towles came on in relief for Kentucky, and led the Wildcats down the field against the Louisville prevent defense, but Jermaine Reve jumps in to pick off a pass at the Kentucky 4 yard line, and that will do it. Louisville takes over with 1:57 left.

4:02: Lamar Jackson carries it in from 13 yards out. Shades of another Louisville freshman quarterback who came on in relief and led Louisville to a win in Commonwealth. He sits in the end zone for a minute after, apparently cramping up. He's entitled. He's run for 186 yards on 17 carries. Jackson needs just 22 yards to tie the total for leading rushing quarterback in Louisville history. As a freshman. Louisville 38, Kentucky 24.

4:09: After Kentucky's punt from its own end zone, Jaire Alexander returns it all the way to the Kentucky 13.

5:52: This is a strange play. Jackson hit James Quick in the end zone for what would've been a touchdown had he been able to hold onto the ball. The reason he didn't hold on was a head-to-head collision with Derrick Baity that left both players laid out in the end zone for about a minute. So Louisville settles for a punt, but pins Kentucky deep and forces another three-and-out. The hit in the end zone below:

10:17: It took only three plays and 41 seconds for Louisville to take the lead. Lamar Jackson on two runs, then Brandon Radcliff scored from three yards untouched. If Louisville finishes this comeback, it will be the biggest comeback since the 1987 season opener against Tulane. Louisville 31, Kentucky 24.

10:58: Kentucky has the look of a team that's imploding. J.D. Harmon just crashed into Louisville punt returner Jaire Alexander after Louisville stopped the Wildcats deep in their own end. The Cardinals will take over at the Kentucky 34, their best field position of the day. The Wildcats have gained just 74 yards since the end of the first quarter, and Barker now is struggling, completing just 1 for his last 12 passes for minus one yard, with two overthrows on UK's last series.



0:02: The Lamar Jackson show has begun. After breaking a 24-yard run on 3rd and 1, he dropped back and threw off his back foot, hitting James Quick in the end zone for a 35-yard TD pass, and now we're tied. The drive went 68 yards in four plays and took only 1:19. Kentucky 24, Louisville 24.

Third-quarter-only stats:

2:40: It's a ballgame again in Lexington. Some big runs by quarterback Lamar Jackson, including a nice keeper on the read option that sprang Jackson for a 29-yard run down to the Kentucky 6, allowed Brandon Radcliff to carry it in the rest of the way. As conditions worsen and the passing game becomes more difficult. Louisville seizes a little momentum. So far in the third quarter, the Cardinals have rolled up 136 yards to 18 for Kentucky. The Wildcats are getting ready to punt it back after a holding call nullified a first-down run, and DeVonte Fields got a QB hurry to force an incompletion. Kentucky 24, Louisville 14.

7:45: Louisville pulls within two touchdowns on a 37-yard field goal by John Wallace. The Cards had the ball 3rd and 4 at the Kentucky 19, but a false start backed them up, and Lamar Jackson's run gained only four yards. Kentucky 24, Louisville 14.

14:10: Louisville's first drive of the half lasted only three plays and 50 seconds. They took a deep shot on first down, then after a six-yard run by Jackson a third-down pass was tipped and fell incomplete. Kentucky also went three-and-out on its opening drive of the half.


I'm not entirely sure the Louisville defense is going to come out for the second half. A key player, Trevon Young, got himself suspended last week. DeVonte Fields has played well, but Josh Harvey-Clemons, again, has been a non-entity. Missed tackles. Louisville will have the ball to start the second half and a score might make a game of it -- especially with UK banged up at running back, Boom Williams out and JoJo Kemp dinged up -- but the defense needs some takeaways and the offense needs to stop giving it away.

Kentucky has made the big plays on third down and Louisville's defense has been horrid on third down. Credit Drew Barker with making some big throws. The Wildcats have converted 6 of 9 third-down plays, and of their 208 first-half yards, 113 have come on third-down plays, and that's not counting two negative plays for minus-17 the Wildcats had on third down.

Barker has been the player of the game so far. He's 5 of 8 for 129 yards and an efficiency rating of 198. Kyle Bolin, the Louisville starter, had a nightmare game in his home town. He completed as many passes to UK (2) as he did to his own receivers. Wild stat: UK had 141 yards in interception return yards in the first half.

What does Louisville need to do to come back? Run the ball. Petrino has called a passing game even with Jackson in at quarterback. They need to establish themselves on the ground in their first  drive of the second half. They averaged 6.1 yards per carry in the first half. Why they put the ball at risk in the air so often (16 attempted passes, 9 runs, when sacks are figured in) I don't know.

I expect a wild second half, but Louisville better put together something on its opening drive, or this could be a long half for the Cardinals.


Halftime stats:

0:00: Austin MacGinnis hits from 24 yards out after Drew Barker didn't see a wide open Jeff Badet in the end zone on third down (you can see him just below the "C" in "Kentucky" on the screen shot.

The score came after a third-down holding call was accepted by Bobby Petrino, giving up a fourth and short for third and 15 for Kentucky. But Barker continued UK's third-down hot streak, hitting running back Mikel Horton on a middle screen that went for 18 yards after he broke one tackle and eluded two others. 

4:20: More bad news for the Cardinals. Leading tackler on the season, Keith Kelsey, has to be helped off the field after UK converts a third down on a draw play.

4:33, Kentucky injury update: Offensive lineman (ankle) is uncertain to return. Boom Williams (elbow) is out. JoJo Kemp (knee) has come back into the game.

6:47: Another pick. With Louisville threatening, Lamar Jackson throws Louisville's third interception of the game, and has to make a touchdown-saving tackle. Kentucky's J.D. Harmon stepped in front of JaQuay Savage to make the play, then returned it 25 yards to the UK 28.

8:36: Louisville's Kiola Mahoni, who got the start over Skylar Lacy at guard, is shaken up and has to leave the game.

8:54: First trick play with Lamar Jackson and Reggie Bonnafon for Louisville. On third and four, Jackson pitches to Bonnafon, who throws back to Jackson and though the pass is incomplete, a pass interference call gives Louisville a first down at the UK 40.

10:40: Kentucky's Austin MacGinnis misses a 51-yard field goal attempt after Louisville's defense comes through on a big stop -- DeVonte Fields with the big play, a 12-yard sack of Drew Barker. Louisville escapes without having to pay for the special teams error.

12:26: Louisville's first drive of the second quarter goes nowhere. Lamar Jackson threw right for TE Cole Hikutini, who never turned around to see the ball. After nothing on the next two plays, Josh Appleby shanks a punt from the end zone, it goes only 19 yards, and UK takes over at the Louisville 25. The below conversation between Petrino and Appleby didn't look pleasant.


Stat of note: Kentucky had 149 yards in the first quarter; 102 of them came on third down.

Williams update: He was able to walk off the field, but is being taken straight to the locker room. Would be surprised if we see him anymore today.

0:00: The first quarter gets an untimed down when Louisville commits two penalties -- offsides, and pass interference on the same play. Kentucky gets one untimed down from the Louisville 45. Boom Williams carries for no gain, and is hurt on the play as the quarter ends.

2:02: Drew Barker delivers another big third-down play, hitting Dorian Baker for 42 yards to set UK up in Cardinal territory again. But Mikel Horton fumbles on the next play, with Louisville's James Burgess recovering. But the Cardinals can't capitalize, going three-and-out on their next series when Jackson's pass into traffic on third and 2 is incomplete.

3:21: After hitting James Quick down the middle for 38 yards on his first play, Jackson runs it in from 16 yards out on a keeper two plays later. Three plays, 57 yards in 1:21 the scoring drive for Louisville. It was Jackson's eighth rushing touchdown of the season, breaking the Louisville single-season record for rushing TD's by a quarterback. Kentucky 21, Louisville 7.

4:42: Freshman Lamar Jackson enters as quarterback for Louisville.

4:42: After a big third-down play action strike from Kyle Bolin to Charles Standberry, Bolin was flushed from the pocket and scrambling right, and tried to sneak in a pass to James Quick along the sideline, but UK middle linebacker Josh Forrest was lurking behind it and had it measured all the way. He picked it off, remained inbounds (a replay confirmed) and sprinted 81 yards for the touchdown. Kentucky 21, Louisville 0.

7:30: The second play after Stamps' interception, Boom Williams carries it in from six yards out. Officials are going to review it. Kentucky 14, Louisville 0.

8:19: Louisville's Kyle Bolin, who got the start at QB, has a pass float on him over the middle and A.J. Stamps makes the easy interception for Kentucky, returning it 35 yards to the Louisville 13 yard line.

9:15 (to play in the quarter): Kentucky put together perhaps its best opening drive of the season, going 75 yards on 10 plays, using up 5:45, with QB Drew Barker keeping it on third down from the one for the TD. Of Kentucky's 75 yards, 60 came on three big third-down plays, a pass from Barker to Garrett Johnson over the middle for 31 yards on third and long, then a 28-yard screen pass executed perfectly. Kentucky 7, Louisville 0.

Kentucky's third-down plays on the drive:


11:58 a.m. Louisville has won the toss, and deferred to the second half.

11:56 a.m. Here's the stadium, about 6 minutes till kickoff.

11:52 a.m. Louisville outside linebacker Trevon Young, the Cardinals' leader with 8 1/2 sacks this season, has been suspended for today's game, as has linebacker James Hearns. Both are listed as not playing for violation of team rules.

11:41 a.m. Looks from warm-ups as if a change might be coming on the offensive line for Louisville: Skyar Lacy out at guard, Kiola Mahoni.

11:32 a.m. Rick Bozich, via his Twitter account, says his sources tell him Kyle Bolin will start at quarterback for Louisville. All week the word seeming to leak from around around the Louisville program was that Lamar Jackson would be starting. Could that have been a misdirection? Bozich takes a look at the Louisville QB situation in a column this morning

11:20 a.m. This photo was taken about two hours to kickoff and pretty well describes the mood not just of the home fan base, but everybody, I think.

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