HUNTINGTON, W. Va. — In front of a beyond-capacity crowd, and with a national television audience looking on, Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson just kept adding on to his Heisman Trophy profile.
That’s because the Heisman Trophy frontrunner, in throwing for five touchdowns and rushing for two more on Saturday night, led the third-ranked Louisville Cardinals to a decisive 59-28 victory over the Marshall Thundering Herd — in front of 40,592 inside an electric Joan C. Edwards Stadium in Huntington.
The win kept the Cardinals, which vaulted to third in the Associated Press College Football Poll following their 63-20 waxing of then No.-2 Florida State a week ago, undefeated at 4-0.
Louisville also started 4-for-4 in 2013, and did so Saturday night for the fourth time under head coach Bobby Petrino.
The Thundering Herd, which allowed at least 59 points for the second consecutive game, fell to 1-2 — as Marshall was blown out against Akron 65-38 last week.
Louisville, led by Jackson, entered Edwards Stadium as the highest AP-ranked team to ever play there.
The Red and White were also four-touchdown favorites over the Thundering Herd.
The Cardinals only led 7-0 after the opening 28 minutes and 50 seconds, but erupted for 28 second-quarter points — all in the final 11:10 in fact — to stake a sizable 35-7 halftime advantage.
Jackson threw for four first-half touchdowns and rushed for another, completing 16-of-29 passes for 284 yards.
In all, he passed for 417 yards on 24-of-44, and rushed for 71 yards on 19 attempts.
He had entered the contest with a nation’s-best 10 rushing touchdowns, part of 18 through three games.
The Cardinals’ opening touchdown was their longest of the night — a 71-yard scoring strike from Jackson to James Quick only four minutes and three seconds in.
He threw two touchdowns to tight end Cole Hikutini in the second quarter —from eight and 30 yards, along with an 8-yarder with two seconds left in the second period to Reggie Bonnafon.
In the third quarter, Jackson rushed for a nine-yard touchdown run, then hooked up with Jaylen Smith from 51 yards out to make it 52-7 with 17:19 to play.
Louisville placekicker Brandon Creque kicked a perfect 8-of-8 extra points, and booted a 39-yard field goal with five minutes remaining in the third quarter.
Marshall sophomore quarterback Chase Litton missed Saturday night’s game with an undisclosed injury —as announced by the MU football-relations department Saturday afternoon.
Garet Morrell, a true freshman who played in both of the Thundering Herd’s first two games, made his first start.
Morrell got the Herd on the scoreboard with 36 seconds remaining in the first half —with a 16-yard touchdown toss to Ryan Yuracheck.
Marshall then scored two touchdowns only 15 seconds apart at the outset of the fourth quarter, including a 26-yard fumble recovery return by Ty Tyler.
But the Cardinals charged back with a massive 78-yard, 15-play, 11 seconds shy of seven minutes scoring drive — capped off by Brandon Radcliff with a 10-yard run with 6:36 remaining.
The announced attendance of eight shy of 40,600 set the second-largest crowd in the history of Edwards Stadium.
The loss marked Marshall’s second in a row at home.
A complete report will appear in Tuesday’s editions of The Point Pleasant Register, The Pomeroy Daily Sentinel and The Gallipolis Daily Tribune.
Paul Boggs can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2106