SYRACUSE, N.Y. — After falling behind early, Syracuse was trying to rally in the third quarter against No. 13 Louisville and the Carrier Dome crowd was alive as the Cardinals faced a third-and-18.
Lamar Jackson then did what he does best.
The Cardinals’ elusive sophomore quarterback ripped off a 33-yard run to again stun the Orange on a night of big plays. Louisville didn’t extend its lead, but in the end it didn’t matter.
Jackson ran for four touchdowns and threw for another, and the Cardinals routed Syracuse 62-28 on Friday night in the Atlantic Coast Conference opener for both teams.
“He had a great game,” Louisville coach Bobby Petrino said. “What I was most pleased with was how well he prepared for the game. He worked extremely hard all week. He did a great job executing. He threw the ball around and ran real well. He did a great job of everything we asked him to do.”
Jackson, the national offensive player of the week for his performance in the opener against Charlotte, a 70-14 victory, picked up right where he left off. He hit a wide-open James Quick for a 72-yard score on the game’s first play from scrimmage to put the Orange defense on its heels, and it stayed there during a first-quarter blitz by Jackson and company.
The elusive Jackson followed with a dazzling 72-yard touchdown run and also hit Jaylen Smith for 61 yards and Jamari Staples for 55 in the opening spree.
“I’m not sure anybody could catch him,” Syracuse coach Dino Babers said. “You get mad because they couldn’t catch the guy. He’s the fastest guy on the football field. He got into space. I saw him outrun contain with three guys who were exactly where they were supposed to be. He should have got tackled for a 2-yard loss and he runs all the way to the other sideline and steps out of bounds.”
Jackson, who was rarely pressured by a Syracuse defense that was content to lay back, also scored on runs of seven, 72 and 13 yards to give Louisville a 28-7 lead after one quarter. He had 108 yards rushing and 207 yards passing as the Cardinals (2-0) outgained the Orange 352-98 in the period, then tacked on a 9-yard scoring run in the second for a 35-7 lead. That was one for the highlight reels, with Jackson displaying hurdler-like ability with a leap over a Syracuse defender at the goal line.
“I had to take flight, score and get into the end zone,” Jackson said. “I think I did something like that in high school. I feel like I can score (on any play). I feel I can get my team in the end zone on any play.”
Jackson finished with 199 yards rushing on 21 carries and was 20 for 39 for 411 yards with one interception as the Cardinals set a school record and came within 13 yards of the ACC record with 845 yards offensively. It was the most ever allowed by Syracuse, eclipsing the mark of 654 by West Virginia in 1993.
Eric Dungey was 25 for 51 yards for 255 yards passing and scored on a 1-yard run late in the third quarter for the Orange.
Syracuse (1-1) tried to claw its way back into it with a pair of scores late in the second, both by wideout Amba Etta-Tawo in the final three minutes of the period.
In the opener against Charlotte, Jackson accounted for eight touchdowns and 405 yards in the first half, then sat the second. No breather on this hot night inside the Carrier Dome.
The Cardinals moved up six spots in the AP poll after their lopsided victory over Charlotte. Jackson accounted for a stunning 405 yards and eight touchdowns, six passing in the first half of that game. Another jump is on the way next week.
LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals proved the opening week was no fluke. They’re for real, and as long as Jackson stays healthy the Atlantic Division of the ACC promises to be more interesting. Jackson’s only concern on offense might be his receivers, who had six drops in the first half and more in the second.
STAT LINE: Louisville averaged 10.4 yards per play.
HE SAID IT: “I did good, I guess, but I still have some improvement. I threw a lot of bad balls. Lot of bad reads, but I think I did all right.” — Louisville quarterback Jackson.
SYRACUSE: The defense wasn’t tested in the opener against FCS Colgate. It was by the Cardinals, early and often. The Orange has a lot of work ahead on both sides of the ball, but showed some grit by not caving under the early barrage. The up-tempo offense of Babers gained 426 yards and ran 93 plays and the Orange have found a go-to guy in Etta-Tawo, who has 19 catches for 314 yards in two games. The Orange also could use some semblance of a run game after gaining just 104 yards on 39 carries, it second straight subpar performance.
LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals get their first true test of the young season when they host No. 3 Florida State on Sept. 17.
SYRACUSE: The Orange host South Florida on Sept. 17, their third straight home game.
AP College Football Website: www.collegefootball.org
Follow Kekis on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Greek1947