“We know as a team right now, we still have some work to do. We still have to make the plays at the right time, at the key moments. We had our opportunities.”
The most glaring missed opportunity for the Seminoles came late in the fourth quarter when freshman quarterback James Blackman fumbled on what could’ve been the winning drive. It didn’t start off that way for the ‘Noles. After a seven play, 75 yard drive for Louisville capped off by a 22 yard Jackson touchdown run, Blackman and the ‘Noles would answer right back on their first drive. On the legs of running back Cam Akers, Florida State methodically drove down the field. The ‘Noles would tie it up after Blackman found tight end Ryan Izzo in the end zone making tit a tie game, 7-7 at the end of the first quarter.
In the second quarter, both teams cranked it up on defense as the first three possessions ended in punts. Louisville linebacker Isaac Stewart led the Cardinals with nine tackles. Louisville was also able to get to Blackman and sack the Seminole’s quarterback twice. With constant pressure being applied to the freshman quarterback, Louisville forced Blackman to turn it over three times in the game with two interceptions and a fumble.
“I thought our defense did a great job of having toughness, playing fast, and helping each other out.” said Louisville head coach Bobby Petrino.” We got guys to the football. We made plays and we came up with turnovers.”
Late in the second quarter, Jackson took a quarterback draw from his own 34 yard line, but was met by Florida State freshman defensive end Joshua Kaindoh, who forced a fumble by the Cardinals quarterback and it was scooped up by senior linebacker Matthew Thomas, who sprinted into the end zone putting the ‘Noles up 14-7. The lead would be short lived as Jackson led the Cardinals down the field and connected with wide receiver Seth Dawkins on a 26 yard touchdown pass, knotting the game up at 14 just before the half.
Coming out after the half, Florida State turned to a heavy dose of Akers and fellow
running back Jacques Patrick. Their opening offensive drive stalled out and they brought out kicker Ricky Aguayo to attempt a field goal and he then proceeded to miss the attempt wide right. The miss was Aguayo’s first in his last 12 attempts. Louisville scored touchdowns on their first two drives of the second half. The first came after a 51 yards scramble by Jackson set the Cardinals up in the Seminole red zone. Running back Reggie Bonnafon would do the rest, punching it in from two yards out. On Florida State’s next drive, Blackman lofted a pass down the right side but was picked off by Louisville cornerback Trumaine Washington, his second of the day. Louisville running back Dae Williams put the Cardinals up 28-14 after a 25 yard touchdown run on the ensuing drive.
“I’m really happy for him. He made a couple of really good plays on the ball and a couple of really good returns afterwards. He’s really hung in there and has been positive and worked hard. So it was great to see him make those plays.” Said Petrino of Washington.
Determined not to let the game get out of hand, Florida State responded with a scoring drive of their own to open the fourth quarter. Patrick took a Blackman handoff around the right side, but fumbled the ball in the end zone. Wide receiver Nyqwan Murray was able to pounce on the loose ball in the end zone, bringing the score to 28-21, with Louisville still leading.
Murray would be counted on again after the ‘Noles forced a Louisville punt. With 11 minutes left in the game, Murray showed the big play ability Seminoles fans have been waiting for all season. Blackman found Murray twice on the drive, the most important though, was the 20 yard touchdown strike by the duo tying the game at 28.
After stuffing the Cardinals on fourth and one, the Seminoles looked to put Louisville away for good. With just over four minutes to go in the game the ‘Noles took over on their own 28 yard line. After big runs of 18 and 21 yards by Patrick and Blackman, the ‘Noles set up at the Louisville 21 yard line. On the next play, Blackman rushed around the left side but was met by Louisville linebacker Henry Famurewa, who forced Blackman to cough up the football. That play defined the Seminoles season in a nutshell; so close but yet so far.
With just over two minutes left in the game, Jackson drove his team down the field and put them in position for the winning field goal by kicker Blanton Creque. The sophomore would knock it right down the middle, giving the Cardinals the victory by a score of 31-28.
Despite their record, the Seminole still look to finish out their season strong.
Addressing the fans after the game, Florida State defensive end Brian Burns stated, “Remain positive. If you’re on our side, you’re on our side, if not, it’s whatever. We are going to remain positive in the locker room and finish the season strong.” Simply put, you’re either riding with the Seminoles, or you’re not. Next week the ‘Noles travel to Boston College to take on a surging Eagles team. Kickoff is at 8pm EST.