The No.2 Florida State Seminoles survived their first ACC contest with the Louisville Cardinals on Thursday night. Behind Jameis Winston’s three touchdown passes, Florida State erased a 21-0 first half deficit to defeat Louisville 42-31.
The first half performance for Florida State was not impressive in the slightest. On the opening play, Will Gardner hit Devante Parker for a 71 yard strike that got the ball to the Seminoles’ five yard line. However, Florida State held Louisville out of the end zone to keep the score at zero. Bobby Petrino elected not to go for the field goal and it may have come back to haunt the Cardinals.
After defense ruled the first quarter, Louisville’s offense began to flourish. The Cardinals showcased Michael Dyer as the offensive line created cavernous sized holes. Louisville imposed their will, while Dyer ran wild in the second quarter. He scored two of his three touchdowns in the first half, and the Seminoles’ defense looked spent.
Jameis Winston didn’t help the defense recuperate either. The Heisman trophy winner threw back to back interceptions that stymied any chance to slow down the Louisville attack. Before Florida State could blink, the Cardinals were headed to the end zone for another touchdown to make it 21-0.
With just over two minutes left in the first half, the Seminoles finally showed signs of life. They quickly drove down inside the five yard line, but disaster almost derailed their season for good. On a zone read handoff, Karlos Williams lost the ball, as the offensive line was driven into the back field. Unfortunately for Louisville, they were unable to recover the fumble and Nick O’Leary landed on it in the end zone. It cut the lead to 21-7 right before halftime.
The second half didn’t start any better for Jameis Winston after he threw his third interception. On the weirdest play of the night, Winston ended up causing the fumble, and Florida State recovered. Still, Florida State was unable to do anything with the second chance. Once Louisville got the ball back, they connected on a field goal for a 24-7 lead.
Moments later, Winston hit Travis Rudolph for a 68 touchdown pass. Then it was the Dalvin Cook show. First, Cook ran for a 40 yard touchdown late in the third quarter to get the lead cut to three. Then Winston hit Ermon Lane for a 47 yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter. It was the first lead for Florida State all night. The Seminoles were up 28-24, but it Louisville still had some fight left.
The Cardinals answered with a six-play 77 yard drive that culminated in Michael Dyer’s third touchdown of the game. Then Louisville got a much needed stop, but a punt put them deep in their own territory. After not being able to sustain a game clinching with a 31-28 lead, a bad punt gave Florida State the ball on the 38 yard line.
One play later, Cook took the handoff and ran down the right sideline for a 38 yard touchdown. The Seminoles took the lead for good, but still needed on stop. They were fooled on Louisville’s final fourth down play, but Gardner’s pass was off target by a little margin. Florida State added on a final touchdown to make the score 42-31.
Louisville came into the game with the best defense in the country, and they were dominating early. Winston was 25-48 passing with three touchdowns and three interceptions. The rush got to Winston and he even injured his ankle in the third quarter. Will Gardner was 20/38 passing for 330 yards and a touchdown. He also ended the game with an interception.
Florida State’s record moved to (8-0), while Louisville dropped to (6-3) The Seminoles face Virginia in their next game.