CRAWFORD | At the horn: Louisville thunders past Marshall, 59-28 - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | At the horn: Louisville thunders past Marshall, 59-28

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WDRB photo by Eric Crawford WDRB photo by Eric Crawford

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WDRB) -- For the first time this season, the University of Louisville football team didn’t score on its first possession of a game in Saturday night’s game at Marshall.

But on its second, Lamar Jackson found James Quick for a 71-yard touchdown strike, and the No. 3-ranked Cardinals’ offense got itself going, more or less.

This wasn’t an offensive clinic by the Cardinals, even if the final numbers (690 total yards) look like it was. There were mistakes. There were missed opportunities. But in the end, it was just another highlight-reel night for the Cardinals and Jackson, and a 59-28 victory before the second largest crowd ever at Marshall, 40,592.

CRAWFORD | Off night? Lamar Jackson and Louisville still light up Marshall

I suppose you could say it was the worst performance we’ve seen from Jackson this season. (That’s sarcasm, by the way.) Poor guy only had seven touchdowns. He threw for five, ran for two more and joined Jay Gruden at No. 6 on U of L’s career list for touchdowns accounted for.

The win sets Louisville up for next Saturday’s much-anticipated game at No. 5-ranked Clemson, in what should be the fifth meeting of top-5 teams in ACC history. ESPN’s College GameDay is expected to be in Clemson for the game.

But first, a look at what happened at Marshall.

1). GOT THE JOB DONE. The Louisville defense gets the game ball from this one. The first-team defense held Marshall to 135 yards and seven points through the first three quarters, and that Marshall touchdown came on a 14-yard drive after a muffed punt.

Marshall really didn’t sustain anything against the Cardinal defense. It might not have scored had Louisville’s special teams not allowed a fake-punt first down (which itself stood only after a personal foul call that never was explained.) The Cardinals also had a botched exchange on their next possession and Marshall ran back for a touchdown.

And of course, give Jackson a mention here (more on him in a bit). And give a nod to tight end Cole Hikutini, who had four catches for 85 yards and two touchdowns. Also, running back Brandon Radcliff carried 19 times for 131 yards and a touchdown.

2). DIDN’T GET THE JOB DONE. Marshall’s sign game left a lot to be desired. “Bridgewater’s ACL is better than Lamar Jackson.” Really? And the students poked the bear a little bit with some derogatory signs on the road outside Edwards Stadium.

Louisville’s special teams also left something to be desired. There was a missed field goal. They gave up a long runback. They gave up a fake-punt first down. Plenty to work on.

3). TURNING POINT. After both teams stalled on their first drive, the 71-yard TD strike from Jackson to Quick served notice that the Cardinal offense had only stumbled, not fallen.

4). SURPRISE, SURPRISE. After lifting Jackson for Kyle Bolin in the fourth quarter, Petrino came back with his starter after a fumble led to a Marshall score. Given that Louisville was only running the ball at that point, it was a fairly low-risk maneuver. But had Jackson gotten hurt playing with a 52-21 lead, the second-guessing would’ve been ferocious.

5). PLAYERS OF THE GAME. Devonte Fields had nine tackles and a diving interception of a tipped pass. Josh Harvey-Clemons had a team-best 11 tackles. And of course, there was Jackson. He finished 24-44 for 417 yards and 5 touchdowns, with an interception. He also ran 12 times for 62 yards and two TDs.

6). STAT OF THE DAY. Jackson already has accounted for 48 touchdowns running and passing in his career. Four games into his sophomore season, he is tied with Jay Gruden for No. 6 on U of L’s all time list, just four away from tying Lenny Lyles.

7). WHAT WE LEARNED. Even an inconsistent Lamar Jackson is still pretty good. And Bobby Petrino can still dominate C-USA teams. It’s like riding a bike. You don’t forget how.

8). WHAT’S NEXT? Like we have to even ask. At Clemson. Prime time, 8 p.m. next Saturday. In all likelihood, College GameDay. WDRB will send a five person crew, including John Lewis, Eric Crawford, Katie George, Sterling Riggs and videographer Jacob Davis, for full coverage beginning with Friday’s WDRB News in the Morning and continuing through the WDRB News Sunday night.

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