The city had declared it Lamar Jackson Day in Louisville, the University had hoisted a 30-foot plaque to the third level, thousands of fans sported his number. Everybody wanted to honor him, everybody wanted Lamar Jackson to be happy.
Video greetings from Olympic gold medalist swimmer Michael Phelps, former UofL quarterback Teddy Bridgewater, Baltimore Coach John Harbaugh, Baltimore receiver Mark Andrews, numerous teammates and classmates. Everybody wanting to wish him well.
Including the University of Louisville football team, inspired by Jackson’s presence. Turning in the best game of the season with an impressive 41-3 pasting of Syracuse. Everybody from top to bottom busting their butts to ensure that it would be a perfect day for the honoree.
No fourth quarter meltdown this week, UofL managing to rest quarterback Malik Cunningham in the final 15 minutes in preparation for Thursday’s ESPN game against Duke. Cunningham with five touchdowns, scoring on a six-yard run and passing for four more. The Cardinals dominated on offense, putting up a combined 382 yards combined to 162 for the visitors.
“Our defense came out and really shut down their offense, which is a tremendous feat in itself because their running back was number two in the country in rushing and that quarterback is really good, too, he can run, as well,” said Coach Scott Satterfield. “Our defense did a great job with that, holding them out of the end zone early. Our offense takes the ball, (Jalen) Mitchell sets the tone running the football on the first draft and we end up scoring a touchdown.”
Cunningham’s first TD pass was a perfect 33-yard toss to Tyler Harrell – one of two Cardinals wearing No. 8 for the time being – before he followed with a 6-yarder to Ahmari Huggins-Bruce, the first of two he caught. Jordan Watkins pulled in a 41-yarder in the back of the end zone before Huggins-Bruce took in another from 17 yards just before the break.
UofL’s defense exceeding expectations, limiting the visiting Orange to a field goal in the first quarter. Syracuse running back Sean Tucker, second leading rusher in the NCAA, was averaging 122 yards per game with 10 touchdowns before the game. He was held to 99 yards on Saturday, getting no closer to the end zone than four yards out.
“We’ve had so many close games this year, we needed to have a game like this,” said Satterfield, whose team record improved to 5-5.
A 60-minute domination of a decent Syracuse team by a UofL team deserving of having some good things happen. Hard to rationalize such a transformation without remembering that it was Lamar Jackson Day. Nobody wanted to let him down.