LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Louisville got the easy bounce-back victory it expected and Lamar Jackson broke a school record to boot.
Jackson accounted for three touchdowns to set a Louisville record with 88 in his career and the No. 19 Cardinals routed Kent State 42-3 Saturday.
A week after his team was soundly beaten by Clemson, Cardinals coach Bobby Petrino was happy with the effort but disappointed by four turnovers.
“We basically came out and took care of business,” Petrino said.
Despite missing Jaylen Smith, the team’s top receiver, Jackson threw for 299 yards and two touchdowns on 18-of-22 passing. His 16-yard touchdown pass to Javonte Bagley in the third quarter ended the scoring and gave him a school record for total touchdowns, breaking Chris Redman’s career mark.
Jackson, the Heisman Trophy winner, finished with 333 yards total offense and three scores in three quarters of action against a defense ranked No. 119 in the country.
“I’m trying to win all these games,” he said. “I’m not worried about the Heisman.”
He put the Cardinals in position to win quickly. On the first play of the game, he connected with tight end Jordan Davis on a 69-yard reception. Four plays later, on fourth-and-goal, Malik Williams’ 3-yard run gave the Cardinals a 7-0 lead over the Golden Flashes (1-3) less than two minutes into the game.
Louisville racked up 188 yards of offense and used a Trumaine Washington 37-yard interception return to lead 21-0 after a quarter. About the only thing that could match the Cardinals 539-yard offensive performance was a squirrel that made its way on the field in the second quarter. The squirrel’s dash across the goal line drew cheers from the crowd.
Louisville’s defense held Kent State to just 150 yards and also forced three turnovers.
Kent State’s Paul Haynes, who served as Louisville’s secondary coach in 2002 and as Petrino’s defensive coordinator at Arkansas, coached from the press box for the second straight week after returning from prostate cancer surgery
Kent State: Not much went right for the Golden Flashes on the day. However, freshman quarterback Dustin Crum entered the game late in the first quarter and ran 18 times for a team-high 62 yards. Haynes also liked that his team was able to get four turnovers on defense, which he said could help them in Mid-American Conference play.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with our turnovers,” he said. “But like I said there are a lot of good things on moving forward.”
Louisville: After giving up 613 yards last week, Louisville’s defense recovered well Saturday. The Cardinals recorded 14 tackles for loss Saturday and had their best performance yardage wise since giving up 79 yards to Boston College on Oct. 24, 2015.
After Jackson broke the career scoring mark, he gave way to redshirt freshman Jawon Pass, a four-star recruit many expect to be Jackson’s replacement. His first drive started at the Cardinals’ 1. He moved the ball well, but the drive ended with a fumble in the Golden Flashes end zone after a 31-yard pass.
Pass finished with 75 yards on 5-of-8 passing.
Despite the four turnovers, Louisville’s offense had the kind of performance that should allow voters to keep them in the top 20 next week.
Kent State: The Golden Flashes kick off MAC play next Saturday afternoon as they host Buffalo.
Louisville: The Cardinals host FCS foe Murray State next Saturday.