CRAWFORD | Few style points, but a win for Louisville, 24-14 ove - WDRB 41 Louisville News

CRAWFORD | Few style points, but a win for Louisville, 24-14 over Duke

Posted: Updated:
Lamar Jackson speaks with ESPN after Louisville's 24-14 win over Duke. (WDRB photo by Rick Bozich) Lamar Jackson speaks with ESPN after Louisville's 24-14 win over Duke. (WDRB photo by Rick Bozich)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- In a black-out Friday night prime-time game when the University of Louisville needed to score some black-tie style points against Duke in front of an ESPN audience, the Cardinals showed up in Crocs and socks.

Now, the object is to win the game. And insofar as the Cardinals did that against a fantastically prepared Duke squad that dominated time of possession 37:12 to 22:48, the 24-14 victory before a crowd of 55,121 at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium was a success.

But if you’re talking about impressing that legion of people who still had the Cardinals as a playoff contender after its six-point loss at Clemson 13 days ago, this game will be a tougher sell.

With 6 ½ minutes to play, No. 7-ranked Louisville led a Duke team with losses to Wake Forest, Northwestern and Virginia by just a field goal. A Louisville team that led the nation in scoring offense at 58 points a game coming in had managed just two touchdowns and had scored only one touchdown in four trips into the red zone.

The Cards just weren’t completely sharp. They piled up plenty of offense and dominated the game in stretches, outgaining Duke 469 to 239, but couldn’t score enough to put it away.

"The first thing you have to do is give credit to Duke and their coaches for coming in with a great game plan, shortening the game and executing," Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. ". . . We had some execution issues. . . . But I was proud of our guys for hanging in there and doing the things we had to do to win the game. . . . We didn't blow them out, but we did win the game."

After driving to the Duke 17 with just under three minutes to play, it looked as if the Cardinals would at least be able to punch it in for a comfortable finish. Instead, a reverse on first down lost seven yards, then Lamar Jackson was sacked for a five-yard loss. He was fortunate his third-down pass into the end zone wasn’t picked off. And the ensuing 42-yard field goal try by Evan O’Hara missed badly.

As Duke players were running off the field celebrating a chance to tie the game with a field goal, officials huddled around a penalty flag. Roughing the kicker was the call. And a Duke defender had rolled into O’Hara’s leg.

Two plays later, Jackson was sprinting into the end zone, and the Cardinals had escaped. But it was an escape.

A fortuitous whistle on Louisville’s first possession of the second half nullified a Cole Hikutini fumble at the Louisville 11, and Jeremy Smith broke away for an 80-yard touchdown run two plays later.

There were some bad breaks for Louisville. A 95-yard Jaire Alexander punt return touchdown was nullified by a skimpy block-in-the-back call. And Brandon Radcliff fumbled the ball away at the Duke 5 in the third quarter with the Cards going in for a score.

It was that kind of game.

The Cards went 89 yards on a crisp, 10-play drive to start the game. But Duke answered right back, breaking free on a 51-yard third down completion from Daniel Jones to T.J. Rahming, the longest play from scrimmage against the Cardinals this season.

Jackson had a big play developing on third and short on the next drive, but held the ball too long, then overthrew a wide-open receiver under pressure. Later, the got to the Duke 6 on a 53-yard completion from Jackson to Seth Dawkins, but couldn’t punch it in and had to settle for a field goal.

Duke coach David Cutcliffe had an excellent game plan. The Blue Devils worked possession with their run game -- leading time of possession 19:02 to 10:58 in the first half. And though they weren’t able to manage much on the ground, they were efficient on third down, converting on 8 of 16 in the game, plus another one by penalty.

Jackson’s numbers were fine, for a mere mortal. He threw for 181 yards and ran for 144 more, and added two more touchdowns to his nation’s leading total of 28 responsible for. Smith carried four times for a career-high 97 yards. Defensive end Drew Bailey had 11 tackles, 7 solo and three for loss for a Louisville defense that was really good all night -- except on third down.

As for style points. Louisville got the ball back with 32 seconds left at the Duke 35. Petrino could’ve taken a shot -- or two -- at the end zone. He declined. He downed the ball and walked away with a tougher-than-expected win. He wasn’t interested in style points.

After the Cards were favored by 34, this game served notice that winning out is easier said than done.

Copyright 2016 WDRB Media. All Rights Reserved.

  • Sign Up for the WDRB Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
  • Sign Up for WDRB's Sports Newsletter

    * denotes required fields

    Thank you for signing up! You will receive a confirmation email shortly.
Powered by Frankly
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2017 WDRB. All Rights Reserved. For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.