CRAWFORD | Post-snap read: Signs of life in Louisville's 31-28 win at FSU
Louisville fought through a week of adversity and a Florida State comeback attempt to beat the Seminoles in Tallahassee for the first time since 1952.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – There was every reason to believe that the University of Louisville football season was on the brink after last week’s defensive meltdown in a 45-42 loss to Boston College.
The Cards had suffered back-to-back losses and were heading to Florida State, where they hadn’t won since 1952, and where Florida State remembered last season’s 63-20 humiliation in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium. The Seminoles, however, aren’t the same FSU team they were a year ago.
And Louisville wasn’t the same team it was a week ago.
A defense that gave up a record 272 rushing yards to a single running back last week held Florida State to four yards per carry and came up with three big takeaways, including a fumble recovery by Henry Famuwera, which opened the door for a Louisville drive that resulted in a 34-yard game-winning field goal by Blanton Creque in a 31-28 victory.
The Cards grabbed a 7-0 lead, and after going into the half tied at 14, opened a 28-14 lead in the third quarter. They appeared headed for an easy win after Florida State failed to convert a fourth down near the Red Zone early in the fourth quarter, but Louisville’s James Hearns was flagged for a questionable roughing the passer, and Florida State went on to pull within 7, then tied the game on its next possession.
Heisman winner Lamar Jackson and the Louisville offense drove into FSU territory, but failed on a fourth-and-1 play, giving Florida State a chance to drive in to take the lead. FSU quarterback James Blackman, however, lost the handle on the ball at the Louisville 24 with 2:33 left. It bounced off of Hearns, and Famuwera fell on it.
Lamar Jackson drove the Cards 59 yards in 8 plays to set up the game-winner.
Some quick takeaways:
1). LAMAR JACKSON LOVES FSU: After throwing for 216 yards and a score and running for 146 yards and four touchdowns on 17 carries against the Seminoles last season, Jackson threw for 156 yards and a TD and ran for 178 yards and a score on 23 carries on Saturday.
As a freshman, Jackson carried 19 ties for 59 yards and threw for 307 yards and three TDs against Florida State.
His first carry of the game, on Louisville’s first drive, went 23 yards. His second, on the very next play, covered 22 yards or a touchdown, and quickly was being posted on Twitter around the nation.
His longest run of the game, a sprint to the outside, which included a spin move along the sideline to pick up another 10-12 yards, went for 51 yards.
He wasn’t without his issues. He had a scoop-and-score fumble in the first half. He had a handful of missed reads. He also had a couple touchdown passes dropped.
If you can find a more exciting player in college football to watch, have at it.
Only two Louisville quarterbacks have taken teams into Tallahassee and won. Jackson, and Johnny Unitas, who did it in 1952.
2). THE DEFENSE SHOWED LIFE. Florida State had struggled offensively coming into the game, but so had the Louisville defense, and the Cardinals came up with enough momentum plays to make the difference in this one.
It slowed FSU’s rushing attack to 4.1 yards per carry. Cornerback Trumaine Washington had two pass interceptions. And the Cards got the late fumble recovery when it appeared FSU might salvage a win out of what easily could’ve been a blowout.
The Cards also had four sacks and three quarterback hurries in the game.
3). CREQUE WINS IT. He had made 14 field goals in a row coming into the game, but Blanton Creque missed his first one of the season, from 45 yards out, as time expired in the first half.
It didn’t hurt his confidence when it came time for his game-winning try with five seconds remaining, however.
“The greatest thing about Blanton, he had all the confidence in the world he’d come right back and put it down the middle,” Petrino told Jody Demling on his 790-WKRD postgame show.
“This was a rough week for the university, we lost Tom Jurich, but this win is going is hopefully going to boost the morale of the fans and athletes,” Creque told Howie Lindsey during a postgame interview on WKRD-FM 790. “. . . I just tried to focus on the fundamentals of the kick, not try to do anything any differently.”
4). RUNNING GAME REJUVENATED. Petrino said that there was a concerted effort to keep the ball on the ground, eat up a bit more time and give the defense more rest than it has been getting in recent games.
As a result, Louisville running backs got 21 carries in the game, with Reggie Bonnafon picking up 74 yards on 16 carries and Dae Williams with 41 yards on five carries in his first touches as a Cardinal. Both had one touchdown.
The Cards wound up running for 293 yards, 6.7 yards per carry, against a defense ranked No. 22 nationally against the run coming in.
5). CONTEXT. This wasn’t just a big win for the team, which needed it, at 4-3 and fighting to maintain its own morale after a difficult stretch in which it had won just four of 10 games. It was a big win for the U of L community in a week in which both men’s basketball coach Rick Pitino and athletic director Tom Jurich were fired by the university.
Petrino said it, in his postgame radio interview: “We needed this win for our fans, for the University of Louisville and the city of Louisville."
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