LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) – Lamar Jackson accounted for a school-record eight touchdowns and 405 offensive yards by halftime to help No. 19 Louisville dismantle Charlotte 70-14 on Thursday night in the season opener for both teams.
Jackson broke Chris Redman’s 1998 record for combined rushing and passing TDs and he tied Redman’s mark for passing TDs. He seemed poised to add a few more before exiting without taking a snap in the second half.
He completed 17 of 23 passes for 286 yards and rushed 11 times for 119 yards, including a 36-yard TD run on Louisville’s opening drive. Louisville gained 663 yards overall.
Jackson’s performance was an impressive follow-up to his breakout freshman season in which he combined for 2,800 yards and 23 TDs – including 960 rushing to break Louisville season and career marks by a QB. His final game last season was a 453-yard, three-TD combined effort in a Music City Bowl win over Texas A&M that earned MVP honors.
That showing raised expectations for this year, and the 6-foot-3, 204-pound Jackson quickly delivered for a sellout crowd of 53,127.
Charlotte pressured Jackson at the start, twice forcing him out of the pocket to run for 26 combined yards. That got Louisville past midfield on its opening drive.
The 49ers barely touched him several plays later as he broke through a left-side hole and barreled for the first of eight TDs on nine first-half possessions.
Jackson weaved a 1-yard TD run between a run of powerful throws that broke the game open. He hit six receivers with touchdowns long and short, and the 49ers could do nothing to stop them.
Jeremy Smith caught a swing pass out of the backfield for a 24-yard score down the right sideline, while L.J. Scott turned a 20-yarder into another TD on the left side.
Jackson’s best TD throw came late in the first half when he hit senior James Quick in the back of the end zone, a play initially ruled out of bounds. Replays showed Quick pulling in Jackson’s pinpoint pass with little room to spare as his feet dragged past the end line; the call was reversed to the delight of a red-clad crowd as the score broke Redman’s mark.
Given another scoring opportunity as seconds ticked down toward halftime, Jackson positioned Louisville with a 6-yard run to the 1 before coaches called timeout with nine seconds remaining. H-back Cole Hikutini then took Jackson’s short pass for a 1-yard TD reception four seconds later, capping the record-setting night.
CHARLOTTE: The learning process continues for the 49ers as they managed just 208 yards against their first ranked opponent. They’re 0-2 in the Bluegrass State after losing big at Kentucky last fall.
LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals offensive line initially looked shaky as Jackson had to escape Charlotte’s rush. But they settled down and didn’t yield a sack with three QBs.
CHARLOTTE: The 49ers open at home against FCS Elon, looking to end an 11-game losing streak.
LOUISVILLE: The Cardinals own a two-game winning streak and 8-6 series lead against Syracuse as they travel to open Atlantic Coast Conference play and face new Orange coach Dino Babers on Sept. 9.