October 19, 2014 - by
@Tim_Linafelt: 23-&-Oh What A Finish!
By Tim Linafelt
Seminoles.com Senior Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After watching Notre Dame quarterback Everett Golson throw an apparent 2-yard, go-ahead touchdown pass with 13 seconds to play here on Saturday night, Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston had only one thought.

“There’s [13] seconds,” Winston said. “They gave us too much time.”

Turns out he didn’t need it.

Offensive pass interference wiped out the touchdown and, on fourth-and-goal from the 18, Golson was hit and threw an interception to FSU’s Jacob Pugh.

Winston then got the ball after all, for one victory-formation snap that sealed No. 2 Florida State’s thrilling 31-27 victory over the fifth-ranked Fighting Irish.

FSU extended its school-record winning streak to 23 and has a week off before a Thursday-night visit to Louisville on Oct. 30.

“I’m proud of them. Proud to be coaching them,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “This team has tremendous, what I call, ‘adversity tolerance.’

“It doesn’t flinch. It can deal with anything. It can deal with pressure moments, pressure situations, and that’s what we did tonight.”

The Seminoles were thrilled to win.

For a few brief moments, they thought they had lost.

On fourth-and-2, Notre Dame’s Corey Robinson ran a little route into the end zone without an FSU defender anywhere near him.

Golson completed an easy throw, the referee raised his arms to signal a touchdown and the crowd of 82,431 fell silent.

An official threw his flag almost immediately, but not everyone on the field saw it at first.

“It was like 20 seconds, but it was a long 20 seconds, man,” junior cornerback P.J. Williams said with a laugh. “After I saw him catch the ball, my head went down a little bit.

“But after I saw the flag, I knew we were good and that everything was going to be all right.”

FSU (7-0) needed another rally to even be in position at the end of the game.

Behind an aggressive defense and efficient offense, the Fighting Irish (6-1) kept the Seminoles out of sync for much of the first half.

Notre Dame went into halftime holding substantial advantages in total yards (254-111) and time of possession (19:29-10:31), but led by only a touchdown.

That lead went from tenuous to nonexistent on FSU’s first drive of the third quarter, a nine-play, 70-yard march that culminated with a 10-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Rashad Greene.

It was Winston’s second touchdown pass of the day, part of an 18-25, 209-yard performance in which he threw only one incompletion in the second half.

“We got out, got the drive, got back in the game,” Fisher said. “Got the momentum and started playing our game.”

That touchdown served to wake up crowd, but it didn’t faze the Fighting Irish.

Golson answered quickly, completing all five of his passes on an 83-yard touchdown drive that put Notre Dame back on top, 24-17.

The Irish’s dynamic senior finished 31 of 52 for 313 yards and three touchdowns, but also threw two interceptions.

“I am definitely disappointed right now,” Golson said. “I am mostly disappointed in myself, to be honest.”

Senior running back Karlos Williams, returning to the lineup after missing a week with a high-ankle sprain, scored two crucial second-half touchdowns.

The first tied the game at 24 late in the third quarter. The second, which came on the heels of a 46-yard field goal by Notre Dame’s Kyle Brindza, gave FSU its first and only lead with 7:39 to go in the fourth quarter.

“Big run. Big physical runs inside,” Fisher said about Williams’ performance. “… how he competed in the game – you saw it.”

From there, the Seminoles had to hold on.

They forced a punt on Notre Dame’s subsequent possession, but, after taking over at their own 7-yard line, were stifled on three straight runs.

A 39-yard punt from Cason Beatty gave Golson the ball at FSU’s 49-yard line with 2:53 on the clock.

“We all got together, we rallied up and talked to each other and said ‘It comes down to us. It comes down to the defense,’” FSU defensive end Mario Edwards said. “If we want to win this game, we have to stop them.”

For a little while, it appeared there wouldn’t be much drama at the end. Golson’s first pass fell incomplete and his second was stopped behind the line for a 2-yard loss.

Then, on third down, FSU’s Terrance Smith broke free and sacked Golson for a 6-yard loss that put the Irish in 4th-and-18.

But then Golson made a play that, had Notre Dame gone on to win, might’ve carved out a place in Fighting Irish lore.

Taking a shotgun snap, Golson rolled to his right, evaded a rush from Eddie Goldman and fired a pass right as he collided with DeMarcus Walker.

The throw connected with sophomore receiver Corey Robinson, who fell forward for a 19-yard gain that kept Notre Dame alive.

“That gave them so much momentum and it took something from us,” FSU defensive end Mario Edwards said. “You have them basically where you want them, your foot on their throat and they complete a pass.

“You see that and it makes anybody drop their head and say, ‘Dang.’”

Golson then struck for passes of 12, 8 and 6 yards before the fateful fourth-and-2.

When Williams saw Robinson running free in the end zone, he knew something wasn’t right.

“We knew it had to be something because our play call didn’t add up with what (happened),” he said. “We had a feeling they were going to run a little ‘pick’ route.

“I guess he held (Ronald) Darby and he was able to get open.”

Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was asked after the game if he thought offensive pass interference was the correct call.

“We execute that play every day,” he said. “And we do it legally and that’s the way we coach it. We don’t coach illegal plays.”

Golson, however, lamented his final fourth-down play, too.

“I told my guys we were going to go down and score and we didn’t do that,” he said. “That last play on (fourth-and-goal), I probably could have made a play there.”

Fisher walked into a his post-game press conference with a wide grin on his face and said it was one of the “classy” games he’d been in.

He reminded once again that this year’s team isn’t the same as last year’s and that it might not reach the same overwhelming level of dominance that the 2013 Seminoles enjoyed.

But after surviving another close call in a season that’s had a few, Fisher was quick to point out that these Seminoles have earned plenty in their own right.

“This team understands how to win,” he said. “It has character. It has culture. And it’s about developing this group into the best football team it can be.

“I’ll tell you what – I wouldn’t trade it for any team in America.”

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