December 30, 2017

Bulldogs buck Cards: Football comes up short, 31-27, in TaxSlayer Bowl

By Dalton Ray —

Outscored 14-3 in the fourth quarter, football dropped their second straight bowl game. Mississippi State completed the comeback against U of L behind true freshman quarterback Keytaon Thompson’s 274 total yards and three touchdowns.

Junior Lamar Jackson threw a career-high four interceptions in the loss. Throwing 13-for-31 with 171 yards and two touchdowns, Jackson rushed for 158 yards and a score. Junior Jaylen Smith pulled in 107 yards and a touchdown on his seven catches.

The Bulldogs out-gained Louisville 277-187 on the ground and sacked Jackson six times.

Louisville failed to score a touchdown in the second half, only registering two field goals.

Mississippi State took advantage of the three-and-out from Louisville’s opening drive. The Bulldogs started with a 25-yard pass then punched in a score with five straight runs.

On the following possession, Jackson withstood the heat in the pocket on third and long to make it fourth and two. After converting the fourth down, Jackson hit Charles Standberry two plays later.

Thompson led an efficient MSU offense in the first quarter as he totaled 102 yards and a touchdown. MSU led 14-7 after one quarter.

The Bulldogs owned the opening quarter, totaling 177 yards to Louisville’s 75. MSU also out-gained U of L 118-26 on the ground.

The Louisville defense started the second quarter with a tackle for loss and that set the tone for the Cards the rest of the quarter.

Jackson hit Smith for a 35-yard gain to start their next drive. Jackson punched in his 50th career rushing touchdown to finish the drive, splitting three MSU defenders.

The Louisville defense got another stop, but Jackson sailed a pass for his first interception in 114 attempts. Mississippi State answered with a field goal, then picked off Jackson again on his next attempt.

Entering the game, Jackson’s last interception was on Oct. 2, but back-to-back picks put his team in jeopardy.

Senior Trumaine Washington bailed Louisville out, causing and recovering a fumble with Miss State neared the end zone.

With under a minute before halftime, Jackson turned a four-yard gain into a 75-yard gain to set up the Louisville score. Cardinals led 21-17 going into the half.

Thompson stayed on par with the former Heisman winner, totaling 186 yards and a touchdown. Jackson had 218 yards, three touchdowns and two picks at the break.

The teams exchanged punts after halftime, but the Cardinals recovered a muffed punt return. Louisville couldn’t cash in as Blanton Creque missed his third kick of the season.

Neither team couldn’t get their offense going in the third, as the only score came from a Creque field goal, set up by the Chucky Williams interception. Jackson found Standberry in the end zone, but the senior couldn’t hold on to the pass.

Mississippi sacked Jackson three times in the quarter.

To start the fourth quarter, Jackson rushed for 15 yards on a third and one. The next play, his pass went through the hands of Smith and was picked off.

The Bulldogs quickly tied the game at 24 with a run from Thompson.

Louisville drove to the Mississippi State 14, but tight coverage on third and three led to the incompletion. Creque knocked in his second field goal to give U of L a 27-24 lead with 7:38 to play.

The Cardinals couldn’t stop the run game, allowing 50 yards rushing on eight attempts on the go-ahead score from Mississippi State. Thompson accounted for 35, including the go-ahead run.

Driving for the potential game-winning score, a miscommunication between Jackson and Dawkins led to an interception.

The Louisville defense held Mississippi State, getting a sack on fourth down to give Jackson a chance win the game.

The star quarterback didn’t have much help, getting sacked on back-to-back plays to put them in fourth and 20. Jackson found Smith to give U of L a first down.

Jackson just missed Dez Fitzpatrick that would have put U of L inside the MSU 20-yard line. In the final heave, Mississippi State tipped the ball away.

You can follow Dalton Ray on Twitter @dray5477. 

Photo by Taris Smith / The Louisville Cardinal

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