Freshman QB Keytaon Thompson leads Mississippi State past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

Freshman QB Keytaon Thompson leads Mississippi State past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

Freshman QB Keytaon Thompson leads Mississippi State past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

Louisville quarterback Lamar Jackson might have played his final game in college football, and while etched his name into the record books in a few more spots, the TaxSlayer Bowl was not the finest performance from the 2016 Heisman Trophy victor and 2017 Heisman Trophy finalist. It's the first game of the post-Dan Mullen era, with the Bulldogs taking on a former Heisman Trophy victor in Louisville QB Lamar Jackson.

The No. 4 Bulldogs were without a head coach, offensive or defensive coordinator and their usual starting quarterback.

Jackson completed just 13-of-31 pass attempts for 171 yards and threw two touchdowns, but also four interceptions in a 31-27 loss to Mississippi State.

That set off a wild and tearful celebration for Mississippi State, which stuck together despite losing coach Dan Mullen and a number of assistants to Florida.

Thompson's big day included 147 yards rushing and 11-of-20 passing for 127 yards.

With his team trailing 27-24, Thompson totaled 65 yards on the game-winning drive, capped by a 1-yard touchdown run with 3:39 remaining - his third rushing touchdown of the day. The Cardinals took the lead on a 31-yard field goal by Creque. But his desperation heave was batted away in the end zone.

Freshman QB Keytaon Thompson leads Mississippi State past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl
Freshman QB Keytaon Thompson leads Mississippi State past Louisville in TaxSlayer Bowl

He had the longest run of his career, a 75-yarder late in the second quarter, and a 13-yard TD scamper earlier in the game in which he split two defenders and made another look silly. Louisville answered with a nine-play, 51-yard touchdown drive, which was punctuated by a 5-yard touchdown pass from Jackson to Charles Standberry. Jackson has yet to declare for the National Football League draft, but most outsiders believe the dynamic junior will turn pro.

"We shared some words", Thompson said.

On Saturday, the Pompano Beach native joined Tim Tebow and Colin Kaepernick as the only quarterbacks at the FBS level to rush for 50 touchdowns.

As much as the turbulence of the coaching change and interim coaching staff may have impacted MSU over recent weeks, it hasn't been the easiest of processes for Louisville, either.

"I got to sit down with my coach and my family", he said.

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