Louisville unveils rookies in 66-21 romp over Murray State

L. J. Scott's first touch from scrimmage would go for 68 yards. He would sore on his  carry for a one-yard touchdown.
L. J. Scott’s  first touch will go for 68 yards, and three carries later he will score from the one-yard line.

With apologies to Murray State, the divide between programs is so great that few fans expected to learn much about their University of Louisville football team when the two schools lined up Saturday at Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium.

What they may gotten, however, was a nice preview of the future, with UofL employing lots of young talent early on, giving Coach Bobby Petrino a chance to see them in action, get some experience under their belts in the 66-21 romp.

Card March was loud and crowded again, with 50,179 in attendance at the game.
Card March was loud and crowded again, with 50,179 in attendance at the game.

Among the newcomers making impressions was L. J. Scott, a six-foot, 231-pound freshman running back from Marion, Ohio. Although he carried the ball against Miami three times for three yards, he proclaimed that the Murray game was his “college debut.”

On his first carry at the 6:17 mark in the first quarter, Scott would elude a crowd of would-be tacklers with dazzling speed on a left sideline to right sideline trajectory, advancing the ball from his own 17-yard line all the way to the Murray 15, a play covering 68 yards. He would get the call again three plays later, five yards to one, and again on the next play, a one-yard touchdown.

For the night, Scott would rush for 126 yards and a touchdown on 11 carries, averaging 11.5 yards per carry. Enough for this night and Petrino, being merciful to another Kentucky school.

Freshman quarterback Reggie Bonnafon would make good on his first chance at calling signals on the first series in the second quarter, promptly leading his team on a 48-yard scoring drive. Making it look easy with an 18-yard pass to Kai De La Cruz, a handoff to Scott for seven yards, and tucking the ball and running for eight-yard touchdown.

For the game, Bonnafon would complete eight of 11 passes for 111 yards and a touchdown. He would carry the ball five times for 22 yards, averaging 4.4 yard per carry, and two additional touchdowns.

The outcome, however, had been pretty much decided when Scott and Bonnafon got into the game, with starting quarterback Will Gardner and running back Dominique Brown doing the heavy lifting.

Gardner completing 13 of 22 passing attempts for 122 yards and two touchdowns and Brown rushing five times for 40 yards, averaging eight yards per carry, and a touchdown.

Not so much a preview of the future as much as a better perspective of the depth of talent available to Petrino as Louisville travels to Charlottesville for another important ACC challenge, the upcoming game against Virgina next week.

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Charlie Springer

Charlie Springer is a former Louisville editor and sportswriter, a public affairs consultant, a UofL grad and longtime fan.