Frosh QB nearly rallies Louisville to win

ATLANTA - The University of Louisville football team might have lost the game - 31-24 to Auburn - on Saturday in the opener but it appears the Cardinals found their quarterback. True freshman Lamar Jackson nearly rallied the Cardinals' to a victory from a 24-point deficit with some dynamic plays under center.

The college career of University of Louisville true freshman quarterback Lamar Jackson didn't start out on the right note.

In fact, Jackson said it was "brutal."

The native of Boynton Beach, Fla., lined up in the backfield on the opening play from scrimmage in the game - behind quarterback Reggie Bonnafon, who then went in motion. Jackson took the direct snap and rolled right. He forced a throw and it was intercepted.

"I was actually shocked," Jackson said, noting the ball was snapped a bit too early. "It was my first college play. I really wasn't prepared for the ball. I was looking and rolling. I should have just thrown it away."

Jackson said he figured the play the team practiced over and over this week was going for a touchdown. Instead, it was his first career interception and he wasn't sure he would even go back in the game.

U of L coach Bobby Petrino said the plan all along was to play Bonnafon and Jackson under center. But midway through the second quarter, Petrino opted to go with Jackson - and he showed signs of stardom.

"I thought (Jackson) did a nice job for us, made some really good throws," Petrino said. "He's got a quick release and a strong arm, made some dynamic plays with his legs. He made some things happen. We were having a hard time protecting.

"I thought he would give us the best opportunity to move the ball, and he certainly did that. We were able to mix it up and get some good run plays in there with Brandon (Radcliff)."

The Cardinals ran out of time in the game but saw the start of the Jackson-era at QB.

Jackson, the Player of the Year in South Florida last season, ran 16 times for 109 yards and had a 10-yard TD run. He also completed 9 of 20 passes for 100 yards. He led the Cardinals on all four scoring drives.

"It was a pretty big stage,: Jackson said. "But I just wanted to come back and win the game for my team. We saw that you should never give up and you can always come back and win a game."

U of L safety Josh Harvey-Clemons said Jackson plays "with a whole lot of confidence," while cornerback Trumaine Washington said he was "not surprised at all," to see jackson step in and make those plays.

"I thought he really did a nice job, competed extremely hard, and we saw that in practice," Petrino said of Jackson. "Like I said coming into the game, we knew we were going to play him, and he did compete extremely hard out there. I thought it gave us the best opportunity to get back in the game and find a way to win."

But did Jackson do enough to start next Saturday against Houston.

"You know, we'll wait and see," Petrino said.

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