Rankins gets scoop and score for U of L

Louisville senior Sheldon Rankins scored his first career touchdown on Saturday afternoon, picking up a Boston College fumble and rumbling 46 yards for a touchdown in the first half. The Cardinals won the game 17-14 over the Eagles.

University of Louisville senior defensive lineman Sheldon Rankins vividly recalled the two times he intercepted a pass last season, noting his only disappointment was he wasn't able to make the return for a touchdown.

"I really want a touchdown," Rankins said at ACC Media Day.

On Saturday, the 6-foot-2, 303-pound Rankins had his touchdown moment. Trumaine Washington sacked Boston College quarterback Jeff Smith, who fumbled the ball, near midfield. Rankins scooped it up and scored.

"As soon as I picked it up, I was just praying that no one was behind me to knock it out of my hands," Rankins said. "The rest is kind of history."

Rankins scooted down the left sidelines and hurdled a defender about 15 yards from the end zone. He wasn't touched until his teammate - Keith Kelsey - tackled him in celebration in the end zone.

"You know, some natural running back ability came out," Rankins said. "I'm happy about that. I wanted that (touchdown) about as bad as I want a sack really. . . . I'm probbaly going to smile every time I see it (on a replay)."

Rankins said he hadn't scored a TD since high school and was thinking about a TD celebration dance but "I got tackled." He said he wouldn't lobby U of L coach Bobby Petrino to let him run the ball but "if they call my number, I'll go in there."

“That was a nice run, a nice scoop-and-score," Petrino said. "It was a really nice job. I think everyone gave him a hard time last year when he picked off that shuffle pass (against Wake Forest) and got tackled, so he might have spent some time working at it.”

Kelsey said it was "pretty amazing" to see a 300-pound guy rumbling down the sidelines like that for a score. He also noted his tackle in the end zone that "I think I was happier then he was."

"The athleticism to be that big and to see how the fans got loud," Kelsey said. "I was happier for him so I had to show him my love when he got there. . . . You don't see that too often. But Sheldon ran 4.8 when we did 40s at 300 something pounds.

"He's real athletic for his size."

Rankins had another stellar game from the middle of the line, getting four tackles including two tackles for a loss. He also had a pass breakup in the first quarter that was nearly a pick six.

It was the first fumble recovery for a touchdown by the Louisville defense since 2013 against Memphis when Rankins stipped the ball away from the Tigers' runner and Preston Brown scored the TD.

"Oh yeah," Rankins said. "That's taking it back. OK. I'm glad to be part of both of them."

And Rankins said he wants to now get another and the next time he might just have to dance.

"We'll see, but I might have to do that," he said with a smile.

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