Lamar Jackson has 4 TDs, Louisville beats Texas A&M 27-21
TERESA M. WALKER
Dec. 31, 2015
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Lamar Jackson put on quite a show for most of the Music City Bowl. Then he had to stand around and watch the Louisville defense polish off his record-setting night.
Jackson ran for a career-high and Music City Bowl-record 226 yards and two touchdowns and threw for two more scores to help Louisville beat Texas A&M 27-21 on Wednesday night.
After Louisville went three-and-out late, the Cardinals' defense sealed the victory by forcing the Aggies to turn it over on downs with 1:39 remaining.
"We just needed the ball back because I messed up," Jackson said. "The way they were playing, it was just awesome."
The freshman, making his first start since Oct. 30, finished with a bowl-record 453 total yards, and set the Louisville career rushing mark before the end of the first quarter in giving the Cardinals a 20-7 lead they never lost. Jackson ran for 126 yards in the first 15 minutes, including a 61-yard scoring run.
Louisville (8-5) won its third bowl in their past four trips and first since 2013. The Cardinals also won for the eighth time in 10 games after starting the season 0-3.
"The first thing I thought of was, 'Wow, we were 0-3 and we got a great win at the Music City Bowl,'" coach Bobby Petrino said about his first bowl victory since returning to Louisville in 2014.
Texas A&M (8-5) became the first Southeastern Conference team to lose this bowl season. The Aggies made it interesting in the final minutes with their third-string quarterback making his first career start.
Josh Hubenak started after both Kyle Allen and Kyler Murray transferred this month. Hubenak shook off five sacks and two turnovers to throw for 307 yards, including a 29-yard touchdown pass to Christian Kirk with 4:54 left that pulled the Aggies to 27-21.
Texas A&M nearly had first-and-goal at the Cardinals 6, but a review showed Kirk did not maintain possession of the ball on his catch. That left Hubenak two more chances inside the final 2 minutes. The Cardinals batted down a pass, then Hubenak was incomplete throwing into the end zone.
"After he settled down a little bit, he did better starting in the second quarter, and he gave us a chance to win the game," Texas A&M coach Kevin Sumlin said. "That's a heck of a position for a guy making his first start, but guys rallied around him."
The Aggies lost their second straight overall and snapped a four-game bowl winning streak. Aggies wide receiver Josh Reynolds set Music City Bowl records with 11 catches for 177 yards.
Louisville linebacker Devonte Fields had three sacks, and Louisville safety Josh Harvey-Clemons stripped Hubenak of the ball and intercepted a pass — both in the third quarter.
Jackson had no such issues as he passed Stefan LeFors' previous career rushing mark of 756 yards between 2002 and 2004. He showed off the speed that Petrino wants to bring to the Atlantic Coast Conference, running through, around and over the Aggies.
The Louisville quarterback set a bowl rushing record, topping the 187 yards Marion Barber had for Minnesota had in 2004. He also set the total offense mark, topping the 424 set by Mike Glennon of North Carolina State in 2012. Jackson also became the third quarterback to run and throw for at least 200 yards in a bowl game, joining Vince Young in 2006 and Johnny Manziel in 2012.
"He's explosive, and he's got wheels," Sumlin said about Jackson. "He really gave us fits on the edge."
Louisville senior linebacker James Burgess' career ended on the Cardinals' first defensive play of the game. He was flagged, then ejected for targeting Texas A&M wide receiver Damion Ratley on a hit that left both the receiver and Cardinals cornerback Shaq Wiggins on the ground for a few minutes. He didn't return until late in the first quarter with a strained lower back.
Aggies defensive end Myles Garrett, who came in leading the SEC in sacks, had a pretty quiet night aside from one sack, giving him a career-high 12 1/2 for the season.
AP College Football website: www.collegefootball.ap.org