By Beau Kilpatrick–
No. 5 UL 32-25 UVA
The No. 5 Cardinals traveled to Virginia over the weekend to challenge the Cavaliers. Fans had false hopes of witnessing Louisville’s high-octane offense. Coach Mendenhall of UVA borrowed a page out of Duke’s playbook to slow the game down.
It became clear in the first offensive series for the Cards that this game was going to be hard fought. Louisville native James Quick dropped three wide-open passes from Lamar Jackson that had touchdown potential. Quick was targeted multiple times in the first half but finished without a single catch.
Jamari Staples quickly became Jackson’s go-to receiver and hauled in 120 yards and a touchdown for the game. Cole Hikutini contributed largely with clutch catches and 89 yards. Former quarterback, Reggie Bonnafon, proved that he could play any position as he led the receiving corps with two touchdowns.
Check the box score for more stats: http://www.espn.com/college-football/boxscore?gameId=400869475
Louisville was down by a single point with 18 seconds remaining in the game. Lamar Jackson showed the country once more why he is the Heisman frontrunner when he lofted a 29-yard pass into tight coverage that was perfectly caught by Jaylen Smith. Smith finished the game with 45 yards on only two catches; but his second catch was the play that saved the game for the Cardinals.
Jackson ran for 88 yards from the quarterback position. He did not have any help from Cardinal running backs Brandon Radcliff and Jeremy Smith, who collected a total of only 59 yards between them.
The defense did what they do best, and that’s tackle. Chucky Williams led the defense with eight total tackles. The defense as a whole finished with 62 total tackles, four of which were for a loss, and they finished the game with the Cardinals only sack.
Jaire Alexander added to his impressive highlight reel through his dominance in the secondary. He recorded six solo tackles and collected two interceptions, which were returned for a total of 37 yards. Both interceptions were impressively returned with Alexander deflecting would-be tackles.
The first half of this game looked dismal. Social media flooded with skepticism and worry from Louisville fans.
The second half started just as bad as the first half ended. Jackson threw and interception, he recovered two of his own fumbles, and the offensive could not establish any rhythm. It was halfway through the third quarter when the offense started to click. They finished the final 20 minutes with three touchdowns, a field goal, and a two-point conversion.
Lamar Jackson finished strong in Virginia. He produced 449 total yards with four touchdowns. Other teams would kill to be able to get numbers like this from their quarterback. Once again, Jackson makes a case for his Heisman campaign.
More on the Heisman race 2016: http://www.newsday.com/sports/college/college-football/heisman-trophy-watch-2016-1.5892526
As bad is it may have appeared, Louisville still won a conference game on the road, Jackson put up solid numbers, and the Cardinal defense proved their dominance in the ACC.
The No. 5 Louisville Cardinals will travel to Boston College for another ACC match-up on Saturday. The game is scheduled for noon on Nov. 5 and will be aired on ESPN2.