Florida State started off the contest hot, forcing the Cardinals to punt away their first possession. What seemed like a great start for the Seminoles turned out to be, in fact, the opposite. Louisville’s punt rolled to the FSU 1 and forced the Seminoles to start the game in familiar territory...with horrible field position. Louisville quickly forced a 3-and-out, and FSU punter Logan Tyler had an abysmal 30-yard punt. The Cardinals scored just four plays later when Louisville quarterback Jawon Pass rushed for a 14-yard touchdown. Pass had just eight yards rushing entering the game.
The ’Noles responded to Louisville with a touchdown of their own. The 7-play, 75-yard drive was arguably Florida State’s best of the season and ended with a 17-yard Deondre Francois tunnel screen to WR Noonie Murray. Ricky Aquayo’s extra point was good and Florida State leveled the score.
Louisville fumbled twice during the duration of the first quarter, but the Cardinals recovered both times. The entire Florida State defense was also handled by Louisville with absolute precision throughout the majority of the first quarter. Last week, the Cards scored just 3 points against Virginia. Today, Bobby Petrino’s boys led the Seminoles 14-7 after 20 minutes.
FSU’s defense appeared to finally find their rhythm, as Louisville’s next four possessions consisted of two punts, a fumble, and another punt. However, the defense could not stop the bleeding before halftime. The Cards’ final drive of the half ended with another touchdown after FSU CB Asante Samuel, Jr. was flagged for pass interference on 3rd down near the end zone. The Cardinals led Florida State 21-7 at intermission.
In the 1st half, Francois was just 5/12 for 76 yards and a touchdown, leading the offense to just 4.5 yards per play.
On the positive side, the offensive line looked much better during the first half than they had all season and were shockingly not the Seminoles’ sore spot. Landon Dickerson returned for the first time since suffering an ankle injury vs. Virginia Tech opening night. While his return wasn’t smooth (he started off the game with a false start, among other things), the unit as a whole appeared to be an improvement for the Seminoles.
FSU was hindered quite a bit by the referees in the first half, including a clear offside on the Louisville defensive line that wasn’t flagged, leading to another three-and-out (although Francois missed a wide-open Keith Gavin streaking down the sideline on the uncalled encroachment). There were bad calls (both ways) all over the field, but FSU seemingly took the brunt. The Seminoles also gave up more points to Louisville before the break than the Cards has scored the rest of the first halves this season COMBINED.
Florida State received the ball to start the 2nd half, but was subsequently forced to punt almost as soon as they got it. The teams traded possessions for much of the 3rd quarter, but late in the frame, Francois connected with Tamorrion Terry and you can probably guess what happened next.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it to again: Feed. Tamorrion. Terry. Put the ball in his hands, and he will make plays. Francois’ connection with Terry for a 54-yard touchdown got the ’Noles within 7. It was Terry’s fourth touchdown of the season on just his 10th reception (at the time). Going forward, I formally request he be referred to as “Touchdown Terry”.
The Florida State defense was able to hold Louisville to a field goal to complete the third quarter and the Seminoles headed into the fourth quarter trailing 24-14.
The ’Noles began the 4th quarter with an 11-play, 65-yard touchdown drive eating away over five minutes of game clock, culminating with a beautiful 25-yard touchdown pass to Tre’ McKitty on a wheel route, getting the Seminoles within 3.
The teams continued to trade possessions when Florida State’s defense ended the Cardinals’ penultimate drive with their first interception of the game by S A.J. Westbrook, after having been left all for dead. Coming off a beautiful play-action pass on 3rd and 2, Bobby Petrino inexplicably called for a 1st down pass with the clock draining. The change in momentum was just what the doctor (and FSU fans) ordered, and the ’Noles took advantage when Murray danced around defenders and scampered 58-yards for a touchdown, taking advantage of great downfield blocking from Terry.
Nyqwan Murray— NCAAF Nation (@NCAAFNation247) September 29, 2018
Florida State takes the lead pic.twitter.com/HQpqfyu7s6
The Seminoles took the lead for the first time of the game (also the first time in ACC play this season) and with just 1:14 left in regulation, the ’Noles held a 28-24 lead.
After a forgettable 1st half, Francois was fantastic down the stretch and finished the contest with 294 yards passing, four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The Louisville offense took the field one last time with two timeouts, but the Seminoles defense secured the bag when an errant throw from Jawon Pass was intercepted by Stanford Samuels III, securing the comeback win.
It wasn’t pretty, in fact, at times, it was downright ugly. But, this Seminoles team grew up, and Willie Taggart achieved his first ACC win and first road win.