Jackson saved Cardinals season, and Heisman candidacy

Posted October 31, 2016

The Heisman Trophy front-runner delivered, leading the Cards (7-1, 5-1 ACC) on a 75-yard drive that ended with 29-yard fade pass to Jaylen Smith - "a flawless throw", coach Bobby Petrino said - in the back right corner of the end zone with 13 seconds to go.

"We go through the two-minute drill in practice all the time", Jackson said. "So if that is the No. 5 team in the country and that is the possible Heisman trophy victor, then I'd say we are making progress in nearly every area of our team". On the game-winning drive, Jackson ran for 34 yards, including a drive-opening 18-yard carry, and passed for 34. "It's fun being the quarterback and the leader of the team". "We knew how to set the edge ... we had that on lockdown". On the same day Virginia lost to No. 9 Notre Dame in the closing seconds, Mendenhall was leading BYU to a dramatic win over Boise State.

Wide receiver Jamari Staples led the talented Louisville receiving corps with 120 yards and a touchdown. "Focused", coach Bobby Petrino said.

Meanwhile, it felt like more of the same for Virginia fans. Later in the third quarter, Blanding intercepted Jackson, and returned the ball 30 yards to the Louisville 15 yard line. "Tomorrow we get back at it and grind all week". Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson (8) scrambles under pressure from Virginia Virginia defensive end Juwan Moye (95) during the first half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2016, in Charlottesville, Va.

At the beginning of the fourth quarter, the Cardinals regained the lead for the first time since the first quarter.

Lamar Jackson didn't have his best game of the season.

"We said, 'OK, baby, here we go, '" the coach said. Right now we're just trusting the process.

It was surprising to Jackson - and probably most everyone else - that U of L, which eventually got ahead 24-17, relinquished the lead in the final minutes.

Scott Stadium's sparse crowd was roaring during Virginia's last possession. In rushing, Jackson ran for 76 yards and a touchdown in 17 carries while Jeremy Smith added 51 yards and two touchdowns in 14 carries.

When the teams lined up for the next play, everyone on the Cardinals knew where the ball was going.

It capped an eight-play, 75-yard drive that took 104 seconds. Quarterback Kurt Benkert completed two fourth down passes, to Doni Dowling and Keeon Johnson, to keep it going.

"It was great coverage", Mendenhall said. The Cavaliers, who dropped to 2-6, kept things surprisingly competitive, as Louisville required a 29-yard pass from Jackson to Jaylen Smith with 13 seconds remaining to keep from becoming a two-loss, regular-bowl-bound team.

Turns out Virginia, 32-point underdogs, didn't have to play a flawless game to beat the mighty Cardinals, it just had to take advantage of something it normally does best.

On fourth down, he hit Cole Hikitini for 5 yards, keeping the drive alive at Virginia's 45. We don't take it to heart anymore, we know as long as we leave it out on the field we can't really complain about much.