The loudest collective gasp I’ve ever heard came courtesy of a Louisville quarterback by the name of Lamar Jackson. He’d just leaped over an entire human.
It was Sept. 9, 2016, in the Carrier Dome. Syracuse was hosting the Cardinals and Jackson, who before that game hadn’t been in much conversation about the best players in college football. I was a student at SU at the time, sitting in the student section aligned with one of the 20-yard lines. I didn’t know Jackson much more than the rest of the country did. All it took was one half to change that.
Lamar Jackson’s Syracuse leap
Louisville already led 28-7 when the Cardinals lined up on first-and-goal just inside the Syracuse 10-yard line. Jackson ran a familiar read option play with his running back, Jeremy Smith, who didn’t get the handoff and was blown up by an SU lineman. Jackson took off in a race for the left pylon, but his path appeared to be blocked by Syracuse defensive back, Cordell Hudson. Hudson went low, and Jackson rose up.
I was at the opposite end of the field, about 80 yards away. That didn’t take away any of the majesty of what Jackson had just done. Jackson flew over Hudson and landed on his feet before having a pretty smooth final few steps to the end zone. The gasp took place in that middling moment, as Jackson hung in the air. He’d already taken all the energy out of the Dome with a big early lead. But for one moment, Syracuse fans were just fans of the most impressive athletic feat to take place in an SU football game in a long time.
That was Jackson’s fourth rushing touchdown of the game – he’d already scored from 72, 13 and seven