Tallahassee, FL- “Missed opportunities, we had our chances,” said Mike Norvell after Florida State football lost to the Louisville Cardinals by a score of 31-23. The Seminoles once trailed 31-7, but fought back to give themselves a chance. But at the end of the day, the hole FSU had dug for itself was too much to overcome as they fell to 0-4. There were improvements in discipline and obvious fight, but FSU’s lack of execution once again doomed them in their third home loss of the season.
Moments that mattered
Worst start possible, UL opens 17-point 1Q lead
After a porous effort against Wake Forest the week before, FSU needed to come out of the gates with energy. They did anything but that. Four plays into the game, Malik Cunningham found a wide open Tyrell Harrell for a 59-yard touchdown. The Seminoles’ offense responded with a three-and-out as McKenzie Milton was sacked on third down. The Cardinals extended the lead to 10 with a 44-yard field goal. FSU responded with a turnover on downs. Cunningham capped off a ten-play drive with a four-yard rushing TD to put UL up 17-0 with 1:14 still remaining in the first quarter. At this point, the Cardinals had 17 points and FSU had 15 yards.
McDonald, Ward give offense life on TD drive
Camren McDonald got FSU’s offense started as he made a leaping grab over the middle of the field for a 22-yard gain. Another completion to McDonald, on a slip screen, moved FSU into the Louisville red-zone. Treshaun Ward got the Seminoles on the board with an easy 20-yard rushing touchdown on 3rd and two.
FSU’s inability to get off the field leads to two long UL TD drives
It took Florida State’s offense four drives to find an answer, but the defense never found an answer in the first half. Simply put, the ‘Noles had no intentions of getting off the field. Over the Cardinals’ next two drives, they ran 25 plays while converting all four of their third down opportunities. Cunningham upped his touchdown total to four by the end of Louisville’s fifth drive. The QB ran in a one-yard score, before connecting with Jordan Watkins on a 21-yard pass to make it a 31-7 game with 1:49 remaining in the half.
Milton gives FSU a pulse heading to the half
The Seminoles looked like they would go down without a fight for the second straight week, but Milton gave FSU some sort of pulse heading into the locker room. Milton went 4-5 for 75 yards on a 5-play, 75-yard TD drive to cut the deficit to 18 at half (Ryan Fitzgerald missed the PAT). Ontaria Wilson hauled in a 20-yard pass to start the drive. Milton connected with Parchment for a 16-yard gain to move the ‘Noles across midfield. Corbin took a short pass for 21-yards to move the Seminoles deep into UL territory, before the quarterback shot a bullet down the middle of the field for a 23-yard TD to Parchment.
Corbin opens second half with a bang
The Seminoles needed a spark out of the half to have any chance of winning the game. Just two plays into the half, Jashaun Corbin gave the ‘Noles that spark. Corbin burst through the interior of the offensive line, made a couple men miss, and couldn’t be caught as he scampered for a 75-yard touchdown. The Seminoles had just 15 yards on the ground in the first half, but the explosive play improved that mark to 90 just 11 seconds into the third quarter. The touchdown came on Corbin’s third carry of the game.
Florida State’s defense kept the momentum as they came up with their first big stop of the day. UL picked up a quick first down, but FSU’s defensive line responded. Keir Thomas and Robert Cooper combined for a tackle for loss that resulted in a loss of six yards. Thomas nearly had an interception on the next play, but the Seminoles settled for a punt as Cunningham couldn’t find the sticks on a third down scramble.
Defense forces five straight punts, offense struggles to take advantage
Cooper and Thomas’ tackle for loss was just the beginning of big plays by the defense in the second half. On the defensive next drive, a holding penalty negated a long TD run by Cunningham and led to a three-and-out. The following drive, Jarvis Brownlee laid the hit stick on Cunningham for a third-and-three stop. The Cardinals picked up just one first down and 37 total yards in the third quarter. After going 8-10 on third down in the first half, they didn’t convert a single third down in the third quarter.
On the other side of the ball, FSU couldn’t come up with the big play to make it a one-score game. Milton was sacked multiple times to kill drives. On a third-and-five from UL’s 29, Corbin dropped a pass in the flat that likely would’ve resulted in a first down. Instead, Ryan Fitzgerald missed a 46-yard field goal. FSU’s second drive of the fourth quarter resulted in a turnover on downs, as Corbin was stopped on fourth and three on their own side of the field. Florida State tried some trickery with a direct snap to the running back as Milton looked to the sideline, but a focused Cardinals’ defense couldn’t be fooled.
Brownlee flashes in another big moment, offense makes it a one-score game
After FSU’s turnover on downs, UL took over at FSU’s 40. With a score, the Cardinals would likely put the game away, but Florida State’s defense was up for the task again. On second down, Jammie Robinson and Jermaine Johnson combined for a tackle for loss. Two plays later, Brownlee came up with another huge tackle. On a toss to the outside, Brownlee broke off a blocker and crushed Josh Johnson for a loss of two on fourth and four.
FSU’s offense didn’t get the touchdown it was looking for, but was able to make it a one-score game on the following drive. Corbin broke off a 32-yard run on the first play of the drive. Fitzgerald connected on a 45-yarder after the drive stalled to make it a 31-23 game.
Defense keeps game alive, offense can’t complete comeback
After the field goal, the defense allowed one first down, but was able to force a punt with 5:41 remaining in the game. The offense drove to UL territory thanks to a 25-yard Corbin run, but turned the ball over on downs as Milton overthrew Parchment on a fourth and seven. The Seminoles’ defense took the field with 2:12 remaining and three timeouts in hand. One first down would end the game. Three UL rushes resulted in just eight yards and forced a punt.
FSU took over at their own six with 1:51 remaining. A pass interference and a 16-yard connection to Parchment pushed the Seminoles’ to midfield. After a sack, Milton looked to tie the game with a deep ball to Parchment. The wide receiver lost his battle for the ball in one-on-one coverage with Kei’Trel Clark, who was able to snag Milton’s deep ball for an interception to ice the game.
McKenzie Milton: 24-39, 248 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT
Jashaun Corbin: 11 rush, 159 yards, 1 TD, 4 rec, 32 yards
Treshaun Ward: 10 rush, 50 yards, 1 TD, 3 rec, 26 yards
Andrew Parchment: 5 rec, 86 yards, 1 TD
Jammie Robinson: 13 tot tkl, 1 TFL
Jermaine Johnson: 3 tot tkl, 1 sack, 1 TFL, 2 QBH
Keir Thomas: 5 tot tkl, 1 tfl, 1 PBU, 3 QBH
Up next: FSU will be back at home next week to face Syracuse. The Orange have started their season 3-1 and are coming off a 24-21 win over Liberty. The matchup will be Syracuse’s ACC opener. FSU is 11-2 all-time against Syracuse. The Seminoles won the last matchup 35-17 in 2019. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30 PM on Saturday. The game will be televised on ACC Network.