Story by Blake Sandlin, Assistant Sports Editor
The University of Louisville’s football team managed to quell the widespread reproof from the school’s looming recruiting scandal with a 55-10 win over Murray State on Saturday.
The 17th-ranked Cardinals, led by junior quarterback and reigning Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, came into Saturday’s matchup at 3-1, compared to the Racers’ 1-3. Louisville cemented that top ranking in front of a crowd of nearly 48,000 onlookers in a game that was hardly a toss up from the very start.
Louisville dictated the action from the jump, leaping out to a 14-3 lead after one quarter off of a rushing touchdown by Jackson and a 9-yard reception by freshman receiver Dez Fitzpatrick. Junior kicker Gabriel Vicente helped the Racers get on the board with a field goal on their first drive of the game.
Fitzpatrick struck again in the second quarter, as Jackson hit him for a 9-yard touchdown. Jackson followed that minutes later with an 8-yard pass to senior tight end Charles Standberry to extend the Cardinals’ lead to 28-3. A 6-yard run by senior running back Charles Bonnafon gave Louisville a sizeable 35-3 lead to end the first half.
The Racers were met with a 32-point deficit entering the third quarter, and attempted to counteract the Cardinals’ potent offense with an aggressive defensive attack. Just 10 seconds into the third, junior defensive back Jason Johnson recovered a fumble by the Cardinals and marched into the endzone to give Murray State its first touchdown of the day and trimmed the Cardinal lead to 35-10.
Louisville added a field goal by sophomore kicker Blanton Creque in the fourth quarter, as well as a 2-yard rushing touchdown by freshman quarterback Jawon Pass to claim a commanding 55-10 win and extend their record to 4-1.
Jackson led the collective charge for his team, amassing 349 all-purpose yards on the night, with 249 passing yards and 100 rushing yards. Jackson threw for three touchdowns in the Cardinals’ win.
Most people don’t get the opportunity to say they’ve played against a Heisman Trophy winner, so for senior defensive back Zach Wade, the chance to face elite competition is a lifetime achievement.
“Even though I got a flag for it, I got a good hit on [Jackson],” Wade said. “That’ll probably be one of the things I’ll tell [my family one day]. I’ll probably leave out the part where I got a flag on it.”
Freshman quarterback Corey Newble tallied 64 yards passing and 10 yards rushing for the Racers.
Head Coach Mitch Stewart praised his team’s fight on the defensive end, despite struggling to get into an offensive groove.
“You always try to find the silver lining when you don’t have 100 yards in total offense,” Stewart said. “We had to give the ball up, so from a turnover standpoint, we won the turnover battle.”
Junior punter Landon Stratton spent plenty of time on the field on Saturday, punting for 421 yards. Louisville Head Coach Bobby Petrino complemented Stratton’s play for the Racers.
“Their punter did a really nice job of punting the ball,” Petrino said. “He had some really good hang time and it is hard to block guys for that long.”
The Racers will be in action again at 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7 when they meet UT Martin in Martin, Tennessee.