Louisville backup quarterback Reggie Bonnafon ran for two touchdowns and passed for another and the No. 25 Cardinals scored on nine straight possessions in a 66-21 victory over Murray State on Saturday night.
After an opening-game test by Miami on Monday night, Louisville (2-0) cruised past its downstate opponent. The Cardinals followed a first-possession punt with the offensive outburst first-year coach Bobby Petrino envisioned, and the list of contributors was long.
Besides Bonnafon's two TDs, three other Louisville backs rushed for scores. Three receivers caught TD passes from the true freshman and sophomore starter Will Gardner, who threw two in just over a quarter of action. The Cardinals had 357 yards at halftime, 21 more than they totaled against Miami as they outgained the FCS-level Racers (1-1) 603-292.
Bonnafon ran for touchdowns of 8 and 16 yards and threw a 27-yard TD pass to Michaelee Harris.
Brandon Radcliffe rushed for second-half touchdowns of 7 and 5 yards, and freshman L.J. Scott ran for 126 yards and a 1-yard TD on 11 carries. Senior Dominique Brown added a 2-yard TD run before Louisville's underclassmen picked up where he left off.
The result was a high-octane offensive performance that delighted 50,179 red-clad Cardinals fans and Petrino, who insisted that his team would improve from its showing against Miami.
Janawski Davis had TD receptions of 57 and 9 yards, and Jeremy Harness had a 16-yarder for Murray State, which was outmatched in every phase by the Cardinals.
So much so that Bonnafon almost stole the spotlight from Gardner in his first game action. He had pushed hard for the starting job before Petrino chose the more-experienced Gardner to lead Louisville's offense.
Gardner appeared much smoother than Monday, completing 13 of 22 for 133 yards and touchdowns to Kai De La Cruz and Gerald Christian before Bonnafon followed. More importantly, he set the tone for an offense that rolled no matter who was in there.
After that initial punt, Louisville scored on its last seven first-half possessions with an 11-play, 32-yard march ending with John Wallace's 45-yard field goal being the longest. By then the Cardinals had a 42-7 lead behind two touchdown passes from Gardner and a 2-yard run by Brown with contributions from Bonnafon and Scott.
Scott followed his 68-yard sweep run with a 1-yard TD five plays later to cap an 83-yard drive that put Louisville up 21-7 and really get things rolling. Bonnafon relieved Gardner early in the second quarter and added an 8-yard TD run and a 27-yard TD pass to Harris.
The Cardinals' fast pace resembled Murray State's last week against NAIA Union College, a game in which Racers senior C.J. Bennett hit five short TDs to establish a school record for a first-time starter. Other than hitting Davis with a screen pass for the 57-yard touchdown, Bennett had little success against Louisville's overwhelming defense in finishing 8 of 19 for 93 yards.