He came. He saw. He conquered.
And, he did that to a lot of other football teams besides Marshall.
September 24, 2016, the night in which Louisville sophomore quarterback Lamar Jackson added to his Heisman Trophy-winning resume with a seven-touchdown, 479-yard performance during a 59-28 victory over the Thundering Herd in a non-conference matchup at Joan C. Edwards Stadium.
The Cardinals entered the prime time affair ranked third in the country, which tied West Virginia (2007) as the highest-ranked opponent to ever set foot inside Marshall’s historic gridiron facility.
The Thundering Herd — with a record of 1-1 at the time — were playing in their third consecutive home game in as many weeks and had just suffered a heartbreaking 65-38 loss to Akron the week before after leading 21-7 through one quarter of play.
MU also owned a four-game winning streak over Louisville headed into the nationally-televised matchup, although UL had looked razor sharp in its three previous contests against Charlotte (70-14), Syracuse (62-28) and Florida State (63-20).
In those three victories, Jackson had already produced 18 touchdowns and 1,377 yards of total offense, which included a trio of 100-yard rushing efforts that led to an average of 9.5 yards per carry — and his Heisman hype was already in bloom because of it.
The Thundering Herd, for the most part, managed to keep Jackson under wraps in the first quarter, even though Jackson found James Quick for an early 71-yard TD pass that led to a 7-0 advantage after 15 minutes of play.
Then, in an instant during the second quarter, Jackson found his groove — and Marshall paid dearly for it.
Jackson hooked up with Cole Hikutini on a pair of TD passes in a 10-minute span, then the quarterback rushed for another score en route to building a 28-0 lead with 3:14 left until halftime.
MU managed to get on the board with 36 seconds remaining, but Jackson found Reggie Bonnafon with an eight-yard TD pass with just two seconds left as the Cardinals took a commanding 35-7 cushion into the break.
Louisville’s opening second half drive resulted in more points as Jackson scampered in from nine yards with 12:33 remaining, then Jackson followed a Blanton Creque field goal with a 51-yard scoring strike to Jaylen Smith — giving the Cardinals a whopping 52-7 advantage with 2:19 left in the third period.
From there, Jackson’s night was finished … and Marshall went on a 21-7 fourth quarter charge to end the night with a 31-point setback.
Louisville produced 690 yards of total offense in the contest, with Jackson accounting for roughly 70 percent of that final tally both on the ground and through the air.
Jackson ran a dozen times for 62 yards and two scores — one of only four games in which he didn’t rush for over 100 yards — and also completed 24-of-44 passes for 417 yards, which included five touchdowns and an interception.
Jackson — a native of Pompano Beach (FL) — ended up finishing the 2016 campaign with 51 touchdowns and 5,114 yards of total offense en route to winning the Heisman Trophy, the Maxwell Award and the Walter Camp Award.
In becoming Louisville’s first Heisman winner, Jackson completed 230-of-409 passes for 3,543 yards, which included 30 touchdowns and nine interceptions. Jackson also rushed 260 times for 1,571 yards and 21 scores during his history-making campaign.
The Cardinals went on to lose the following week at Clemson (42-36) and dropped its final three decisions to Houston (36-10), Kentucky (41-38) and LSU (29-9) — finishing the year with a 9-4 overall mark.
The Herd, on the other hand, ended up limping through a 3-9 overall campaign, the worst ever for Doc Holliday coached team in his seven years at the helm. MU had put together three consecutive double-digit win seasons before the 2016 campaign.
There were 40,592 fans in attendance at Edwards Stadium for the Louisville contest, the second-most ever for a Marshall University football game. The Herd’s 2010 contest against West Virginia — a 24-21 loss — still serves as the stadium record with 41,382 attendees.
Over his two years at Louisville as a starter, Jackson has amassed 7,914 yards of total offense and 74 touchdowns. He was also named the Music City Bowl MVP in 2015 after a record-setting performance of 226 rushing yards against Texas A&M in a 27-21 victory.
Jackson is, to date, the youngest college football player to ever win the Heisman Trophy.
Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.
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