Lamar Jackson provided a cushion with a 2-yard touchdown run with 1:32 remaining and No. 7 Louisville held off Duke 24-14 on Friday night.
The Cardinals caught a break after Evan O’Hara’s 46-yard field goal missed wide left as Duke’s Breon Borders was called for roughing the kicker. The penalty moved the ball to the 14 and Jackson did the rest with a 12-yard run followed by the short score that Louisville (5-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) sorely needed.
Jackson accounted for 325 yards of offense and two touchdowns, hitting Jaylen Smith with a 5-yard scoring pass on the opening drive. Jeremy Smith added an 80-yard TD run in the third quarter, and O’Hara kicked a 22-yard field goal as the Cardinals came off the bye and earned the program’s 500th victory.
Duke (3-4, 0-3) remained winless in ACC play but gave Louisville more than it expected.
The Cardinals had sought a big bounce back after losing at Clemson, especially with a week off. The Cardinals’ offense certainly looked refreshed from the break as they drove 80 yards in 10 plays with Jackson TD pass capping the drive.
Duke wasn’t fazed and answered quickly as Daniel Jones hit Erich Schneider for a 9-yard TD to tie it and trail just 10-7 at the half.
Louisville played better in the third quarter as Smith’s big run providing some space and Jackson adding a couple more highlight-reel runs to his impressive collection. Louisville just couldn’t capitalize on its chances as Brandon Radcliff lost a fumble at the 5 and O’Hara missed a 42-yard field goal attempt.
The Blue Devils regrouped to close within three as Jones hit a 20-yard TD to Johnathan Lloyd with 6:34 remaining. But the penalty quashed their hopes of getting a final chance at an upset as Jackson took control for Louisville — as usual.
The Cardinals might lose some position after sputtering for the most of the night despite being 35-point favorites.
Duke: The Blue Devils weren’t intimidated by Jackson or the Cardinals. But they managed just two scoring drives and committed a costly penalty that could have given them one last shot to win.
Louisville: The Cardinals never trailed and outgained Duke 469-239 but never seemed in full control. Fortunately for Louisville, Jackson offset an off night passing with his speed and nifty footwork on several key fourth-quarter runs including their final drive.
Duke: The Blue Devils will have a bye before traveling to Georgia Tech on Oct. 29.
Louisville: The Cardinals host North Carolina State next Saturday.