The Daily Nole

5-Year Nole Anniversary: Winston Rallies FSU From 21 Down at Louisville

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Over his two years as Florida State starting quarterback, 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston led some pretty memorable comebacks.

The most notable of those was leading the Seminoles from a 21-3 deficit to beat Auburn for the 2013 national championship. The biggest however, came on this day five years ago.

Florida State was 7-0, ranked No. 2 in the country, and riding a 23-game winning streak as it arrived in Louisville for a Thursday night showdown on Oct. 30, 2014. The Cardinals had broken into the College Football Playoff Poll at No. 25 with a 6-2 record. Early on, it looked like the hometown fans would leave happy, but when the clock ran out, the Seminoles had their biggest comeback win ever, 42-31.

After a scoreless first quarter, Louisville erupted in the second quarter for 21 straight points. Following Michael Dyer’s touchdown run less than three minutes into the second period, the Cardinals were able to score touchdowns after Winston interceptions on consecutive drives. Dyer’s 12-yard touchdown run extended the lead to 14-0 before Will Gardner hit Gerald Christian for an 11-yard score.

Things seemed to be going from bad to worse for FSU as running back Karlos Williams fumbled on the goal line on the following possession, but tight end and eventual John Mackey Award winner Nick O’Leary was able to fall on it in the end zone to break up the shutout. At halftime, Louisville led 21-7.

On the first play of the second half, Winston was intercepted for the third time that evening as safety Gerod Holliman recorded his second pick by stepping in front of the reigning Heisman winner’s errant throw. Winston was able to strip Holliman on the return however, but the drive still ended on downs.

After a field goal pushed the lead to 24-7, Winston and the FSU offense finally found its footing as big plays capped consecutive touchdown drives. Facing 3rd-and-4 with less than 10 minutes to play in the third quarter, Winston uncorked a long one to freshman wide receiver Travis Rudolph for a 68-yard touchdown to conclude the 3-play scoring march. On the next drive, it was another freshman — running back Dalvin Cook — who had three straight first-down receptions before capping the 5-play, 80-yard scoring drive with a 40-yard touchdown scamper.

Reigning Lou Groza Award winner Roberto Aguayo would miss a tying field goal late in the third quarter, but the FSU defense continued to hold strong. The Seminoles would take their first lead of the night early in the fourth quarter when Winston fit the ball through a tight window to freshman wide receiver Ermon Lane, who outran defenders for a 47-yard touchdown.

With more than 13 minutes to play, the Seminoles led 28-24, but that lead would last less than four minutes. After a 51-yard bomb from Gardner to DeVante Parker put the Cardinals in FSU territory, Dyer’s third touchdown run of the night put Louisville back in front with less than 10 minutes to play.

A critical third-down sack of Winston on the next possession took the Seminoles out of field goal range, but punter Cason Beatty was able to pin the Cardinals inside their own 15-yard-line before the defense forced a 3-and-out. With the ball at Louisville’s 38-yard-line, it took the Seminoles just one play to go ahead for good as Cook outran defenders for a 38-yard touchdown with less than four minutes to play.

Louisville managed just one first down on its ensuing drive before FSU forced consecutive incomplete passes from Gardner for a turnover on downs for its fifth stop in six possessions. The Cardinals weren’t dead yet, but as they sold out to stop FSU on a critical 3rd-and-6, fullback Freddie Stevenson was unaccounted for and took the dump pass from Winston 35 yards for a touchdown to cement the victory with 2:11 remaining.

Winston overcame the three interceptions early to finish with 401 yards passing — a season-high — and three touchdowns for an FSU offense that racked up 574 yards on a highly-touted Louisville defense. Cook finished with 150 yards from scrimmage, including 110 rushing, on just 13 total touches.

Dyer rushed for 134 yards and the three scores in the loss while Parker led all receivers with eight catches for 214 yards. Reggie Northrup tallied a team-high 12 tackles and an interception for the Seminoles.

That thriller would be the largest comeback victory in FSU history for less than two years as the Seminoles rallied from 22 points down to beat Ole Miss in the 2016 opener in Orlando. It remains the largest road comeback win in program history however, and it happened on this day five years ago.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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