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U of L’s Lamar Jackson rocks Music City Bowl

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Probably not many football fans have heard of Lamar Jackson outside of Louisville, Ky., with the exception of Boynton Beach, Fla. After his performance in the Music City Bowl on Wednesday, he will certainly be remembered in the history books.

Jackson helped the Louisville Cardinals beat the Texas A&M Aggies 27-21 with his right arm and both of his feet. He passed for 227 yards and two touchdowns while running for 226 more and another two scores.

Jackson is only the third quarterback in history to both pass and run for at least 200 yards in a bowl game. Ironically, Texas A&M was involved in that game as well, but they were happy to be part of it. Aggie quarterback Johnny Manziel combined for 516 yards against Oklahoma in a 41-13 romp in the Cotton Bowl two years ago.

Vince Young of Texas was the only other quarterback to accomplish the feat.

Bowl season has produced outstanding performances from the quarterback position. On Tuesday, California quarterback Jared Goff threw for 467 yards and 6 touchdowns against Air Force. Earlier Wednesday, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott tossed four touchdown passes and threw for 380 yards.

Both of those quarterbacks have played their last game for their schools. Jackson is a freshman.

He came to Louisville from Boynton Beach, Fla. High School in 2015. Jackson was rated as the top quarterback prospect in south Florida.

Though committed early to Louisville, Florida made a late run to convince him to switch, but he held firm. Jackson arrived at his signing ceremony in February with a Gators’ backpack, but signed his letter of intent with the Cardinals.

Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino is glad he did. After an 0-3 start, the Cardinals won 8 of their last 10 games. Jackson’s first 200 yard rushing game came on Wednesday.

He passed for more than 200 yards only three times. His best passing day came against Florida State in Tallahassee when he threw for 307 yards and three touchdowns.

It all came together in Nashville on Wednesday. He scored twice in the first quarter on runs of 6 and 61 yards. Jackson also had a two-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter.

His final score came in the third quarter when his 17-yard TD pass to Keith Trowbridge extended Louisville’s lead to 27-14. The Cardinal defense held off Texas A&M deep in Louisville territory in the final two minutes to preserve the victory.

When informed of his accomplishment at the post-game press conference, Jackson’s response was short and simple.

“Thanks. I didn’t know that,” he said.

Jackson displayed the raw skills and poise that will make him hard to handle as he gains more experience. For Louisville football, the future is now.

Bob Sparks is President of Ramos and Sparks Group, a Tallahassee-based business and political consulting firm. During his career, he has directed media relations and managed events for professional baseball, served as chief spokesperson for the Republican Party of Florida as well as the Florida Department of Environmental Protection and the Attorney General of Florida. After serving as Executive Deputy Chief of Staff for Governor Charlie Crist, he returned to the private sector working with clients including the Republican National Committee and political candidates in Japan. He lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Sue and can be reached at

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