Sept 26, 2002
By CHRIS DUNCAN
AP Sports Writer
LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Florida State coach Bobby Bowden worried for months about playing Louisville. It turned out his fears were warranted.
Henry Miller ran 25 yards for a touchdown on the second play of overtime as Louisville upset the fourth-ranked Seminoles 26-20 in a steady downpour Thursday night.
“They were better than we were,” said Bowden, who was denied his 328th career victory. “Before the season, I was very concerned about this game because they were playing as good as anybody last season.”
Anthony Floyd intercepted a pass by Chris Rix near the goal line a play earlier to set up Miller’s run.
The Seminoles (4-1) were the highest-ranked team to play in the 4-year-old Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, and Bowden knew the game would be tough.
“We came in here 4-0, but they could have been 4-0 just as easily,” Bowden said.
Florida State was playing its first overtime game and lost to an unranked team for the second time in two seasons. North Carolina State beat the Seminoles 34-28 last year.
“It’s kind of like playing golf – you come to the last hole even and then you hit your drive out of bounds,” Bowden said.
The Cardinals (3-2) spilled onto the field after finishing one of the biggest wins in school history. Most of the rain-soaked crowd of 38,109 followed them and carried off the goal posts behind each end zone.
“To have these guys come to our house was big,” Louisville coach John L. Smith said. “To beat them was even bigger.”
Dave Ragone’s 1-yard touchdown pass to Damien Dorsey tied it at 20-20 for Louisville with 11:37 left. Neither team threatened to score again in the fourth quarter.
The Cardinals won the coin toss, but chose to play defense first in overtime.
Remnants of Tropical Storm Isidore soaked Louisville throughout the day and the showers never subsided after the game began. Most of the crowd stayed until the end.
“We fed off an unbelievable crowd in a torrential downpour,” Ragone said. “They started ripping down the goal posts, ripping off my helmet, ripping off everything.”
The Cardinals trailed 13-6 at halftime, finishing the first half with more penalties (eight) than first downs (six) – and more penalty yards (100) than total yards (77).
Ragone, 2-of-8 in the first half, finished a seven-play, 51-yard drive in the third quarter with one of his best throws of the night – a 30-yard touchdown pass down the sideline to Joshua Tinch with 4:05 left.
Rix was just 2-for-12 in the first half, but was 5-for-5 on Florida State’s answering drive. Talman Gardner’s 21-yard touchdown catch was his fourth reception of the drive and temporarily silenced the crowd.
A holding penalty nullified a 43-yard touchdown pass from Ragone to Dorsey early in the fourth quarter. Unfazed, Ragone found Tinch for 23 yards on the next play. Two passes to running back T.J. Patterson drove the Cardinals to the Seminoles 2.
A penalty on Florida State moved the ball to the 1 and Ragone rolled right and found Dorsey for the tying touchdown.
Ragone finished 15-for-27 for 182 yards and two touchdowns. He also rushed for 43 yards.
“I couldn’t take him down enough,” Florida State defensive end Alonzo Jackson said. “He’s a great player. We just couldn’t contain him enough. We had opportunities to make plays that would’ve enabled us to win and we just couldn’t do it.”
The Seminoles gave up their first first-quarter points of the season on a 45-yard field goal by Nate Smith 1:42 into the game.
Florida State trailed for the first time this season, but weren’t behind for long. A 33-yard pass from receiver Anquan Boldin to Gardner set up Xavier Beitia’s 40-yard field goal with 10:21 left in the opening quarter.
Louisville linebacker James Greene blocked Chance Gwaltney’s punt and gave Louisville its initial first-and-goal at the Seminoles 2.
Florida State’s defense stuffed three Louisville runs before linebacker Jerel Hudson intercepted a pass by Ragone at the goal line.
A personal foul on Louisville cornerback Laroni Gallishaw kept alive Florida State’s first touchdown drive early in the second quarter. Rix found Gardner on a slant route for a 23-yard touchdown with 11:08 left.
The Cardinals drove to the Florida State 2 again on their ensuing drive. But a delay of game penalty and Jackson’s sack of Ragone pushed Louisville back to the 16. The Cardinals settled for a 26-yard field goal by Smith.
A personal foul on Dewayne White and a pass interference call on Gallishaw aided Florida State on its closing drive of the first half. Beitia kicked a 20-yard field goal as time expired.
The Seminoles, fourth in the nation in scoring defense coming into the game, had only 335 yards. Rix finished 14-of-33 for 173 yards with an interception.
Dontay Spillman, Louisville’s leading receiver this season with 19 catches for 352 yards, did not play. He was suspended for disciplinary reasons by Smith.