The No. 7 University of Louisville football team benefited from Duke's late roughing-the-kicker penalty and got a big rushing night from Lamar Jackson to escape Duke 24-14 on Friday night.
After the Blue Devils' personal foul on a missed field-goal try kept U of L's drive alive, Jackson ran for a 2-yard touchdown with 1:32 left to give U of L (5-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) enough cushion to win in a game in which the Cardinals were 34.5-point favorites.
"That was hard," coach Bobby Petrino said. "That was a full day’s work."
Jackson ran for 144 yards and completed 13 of 26 passes for 181 yards and a touchdown, and Jeremy Smith ran for an 80-yard touchdown to help the Cards survive Duke (3-4, 0-3) before a sold-out crowd of 55,121 on a "blackout" night at Papa John's Cardinal Stadium.
Duke's offense was never too explosive, averaging just four yards per play, but it succeeded in converting enough third downs to eat up the clock and keep Jackson the sideline. Petrino said the Blue Devils did a good job giving the offense short, manageable third downs.
Daniel Jones' 20-yard touchdown pass to Johnathan Lloyd with 6:34 left capped a 15-play, 75-yard drive of 8 minutes, 54 seconds and cut the lead to 17-14.
Looking for a touchdown to put the game away, Louisville drove back down the field and reached Duke's 17, but Traveon Samuel and Jackson were tackled for losses on back-to-back plays, and U of L, eventually facing fourth-and-22, brought out Evan O'Hara for a 46-yard field-goal attempt with 2:05 left.
O'Hara's kick missed wide left, but Duke's Breon Borders dived and rolled into O'Hara, who fell forward onto him. The 15-yard penalty gave U of L an automatic first down.
Petrino said he didn't see the play, "but I'll take it."
With U of L given new life at the Duke 14-yard line, Jackson ran for 12 yards, then 2 yards for the TD.
The Cards began the game like they usually have this season – with a quick touchdown. Jackson eluded a pass rusher and found Jamari Staples wide-open in the right flat, leading to a 29-yard gain, then four plays later found Jaylen Smith for a 5-yard touchdown pass at the 11:11 mark of the first quarter.
Duke answered right back with Daniel Jones' 9-yard touchdown to tight end Erich Schneider on third down. The drive was keyed by another third-down pass – Jones' 51-yard wide receiver screen to T.J. Rahming.
The Blue Devils' pass rush seemed to bother Jackson, causing him to throw off target. He missed a wide-open Keith Towbridge on a third-and-short at midfield, stalling a drive, and later threw short to Traveon Samuel on third-and-goal at Duke's 5, forcing U of L to settle for a field goal.
After throwing for 111 yards in the first quarter, Jackson was just 2 for 8 for 18 yards in the second period, as the Cards took a 10-7 lead into halftime.
Duke, which converted 4 of 7 third downs and got another first down on a third-down play, thanks to a U of L penalty, had the ball 19:02 in the first half. A missed field-goal try that occurred right after it started raining helped U of L hold its three-point lead late in the half.
The Cards grew the lead early in the third quarter.
After Jaire Alexander had a punt return for a touchdown called back by a penalty, Smith busted through a big hole on the left side and shook multiple Duke tackles downfield en route to the 80-yard TD – U of L's longest run in six years.
But the Cards' offense still had its struggles.
On the next possession, the Cards wasted a couple exciting Jackson runs – a tackle-breaking 19-yarder on third-and-13, then a field-changing 13-yarder – when Brandon Radcliff fumbled it away inside U of L's 10-yard line.
After a Duke punt gave U of L excellent field position on its next series, the Cards missed another scoring chance when O'Hara missed a 42-yard field-goal try.
The Blue Devils capitalized by executing the long drive that ended with Lloyd's TD catch. That series included three third-down conversions and a fourth-down conversion.
Duke finished ahead in time of possession 37:12 to 22:48.