Florida State Football – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Ruth Peterkin
Notre Dame made it out alive after Florida State backup quarterback McKenzie Milton’s surprising comeback on a very emotional night where the Seminoles honored the late Bobby Bowden.
Jonathan Doerer made a 41-yard field goal in overtime and No. 9 Notre Dame survived with a 41-38 win. This was after Florida State overcame an 18-point deficit Sunday.
FSU kicker Ryan Fitzgerald’s 37-yard attempt traveled wide towards the left on the first overtime possession, allowing Notre Dame to run a couple of plays and set up Doerer’s kick.
“What’s most important is going on the road, winning the opener against a team that presented a lot of challenges,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “We know we got work to do, but I like this team. We’ll get better and we’ll make a lot of improvement in week 2.”
Bowden, the coach who won two national titles with the Seminoles, passed away at 91 of pancreatic cancer on Aug. 8.
The script “Bobby” and a logo of Bowden’s trademark hat was on the 25-yard line. Florida State coaches also wore logos on their polo shirts to honor their beloved coach. Florida State’s Marching Chiefs spelled out “Bobby” on the field at halftime while playing “Amazing Grace.”
Milton, the UCF graduate transfer quarterback, fired a 22-yard strike to Ja’Khi Douglas on his first pass. Milton hadn’t played a game since suffering a gruesome leg injury in November 2018.
Treshaun Ward finished that drive by scoring on a 2-yard run. Fitzgerald then tied it with a 43-yard field goal with 40 seconds left. Milton was five of seven for 48 yards with three rushes for six yards.
“It was time to roll,” Milton said. “I didn’t have time to process any emotions. A job had to be done. God is real. That’s the one thing I can say. Nobody’s ever come back from an injury like this. Thousands of people praying for me from the moment I got hurt. Coaches believing in me. I’m not here without all the support, all the prayers.”
Florida State began the comeback with Jordan Travis connecting with Andrew Parchment on an 8-yard touchdown strike. Milton went into the game when Travis’ helmet popped off, and he then found Douglas to continue things.
“Jack Coan completed 26 of 35 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns in his Notre Dame debut. Coan threw touchdown passes to Michael Mayer, Kyren Williams, Kevin Austin, and Joe Wilkins. Notre Dame led 38-20 with 4:37 to go in the third quarter.”
Florida State has lost five straight season openers so far, and while the Seminoles pushed, they can also point to three turnovers and nine penalties.
Travis threw two touchdown passes and continued running for another score, along with throwing three interceptions, two of which were to Notre Dame star safety Kyle Hamilton. The Fighting Irish capitalized all three by scoring touchdowns.
Jashaun Corbin had an 89-yard touchdown run for Florida State, finishing with 15 carries for 144 yards, pacing the Seminoles’ 264 yards on the ground.
Notre Dame was ineffective on the ground, rushing for 65 yards a year after they accumulated 353 rushing yards in a 42-26 win over Florida State.
“We got to run the ball better,” Kelly said. “Clearly that will be an emphasis here this week. We’re not here to throw the ball all over the yard and not have a solid running game.”
Overall, Notre Dame was marvelously one-dimensional on offense, rushing a grand total of 25 times for 65 yards through four quarters. The Fighting Irish relied on an opportunistic defense in addition to Coan’s efficiency.
Florida State suffered three costly turnovers but Milton’s passes and running sparked a comeback to tie the game. The Seminoles ran for 264 yards and averaged 5.5 yards per carry.
Notre Dame will likely regain their spot in the top 10.
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Chris began his writing as a hobby while attending Florida Southern College in Lakeland, Florida. Today he and his wife live in the Orlando area with their three children and dog.