The Florida State vs. Notre Dame game was one of the thrillers of college footballs opening weekend. Plays were made on both sides of the ball for each team that impacted the game.
This season we will review every game and discuss five plays that had a major impact on the final result. Our goal is to look deeper into the game, not just discuss plays that change the scoreboard. In this week’s edition of “Five Plays That Changed the Game” we look at the Seminoles' close loss to the Fighting Irish.
Throughout a football game, there are several plays that lead to the outcome of the game. These plays often don't result in points but they help change momentum or set up scoring drives.
There were quite a few big plays on Sunday in the 41-38 OT win for Notre Dame vs FSU. Here are our five plays that impacted the game.
1. 3rd and 17 - Notre Dame hits a big play on a screen
As the 3rd quarter opened up, Florida State took the opening kickoff and drove right down the field to take a 20-17 lead. Notre Dame answered right back to go up 24-20, then Jordan Travis threw his second interception to Kyle Hamilton. The FSU defense responded with back-to-back huge plays by Quashon Fuller, a tackle for loss of 2 yards, and a sack of Jack Coan.
Notre Dame knew that FSU was going to bring a ton of pressure and simply made a great play call - a screen to running back Kyren Williams. Doak was loud but the game was flipping firmly to Notre Dame’s favor so a stop was crucial. 55 yards later the Irish were at the FSU 21 yard line and would need just three plays to go up 31-20.
2. McKenzie Milton corrals an errant snap late in the game to stay in FG range
What a veteran play by Milton. It was 3rd and 6 from Notre Dame’s 25-yard line. FSU was driving for the go-ahead score, down 38-35 with under a minute left in the game. In a game that saw several bad snaps from FSU linemen, Baveon Johnson rolled one on the ground, causing Milton to have to chase it down. He was able to pick it up and scramble out of the pocket, getting enough space to throw it past the line of scrimmage and out of bounds. This was a huge play as it would have taken the Seminoles out of field goal range and taken away a shot to tie the game. Ryan Fitzgerald nailed a 43-yard field goal on the next play to tie the game up at 38.
3. FSU goes for it on 4th & 2 on their own 33
Florida State was starting to see the game slip away quickly after a quick start to the second half. Notre Dame had found a rhythm and put up some quick points. Down 31-20, the 'Noles took a gamble that didn’t pay off. On 4th and short, FSU tried to see if the Irish were playing the run as Travis booted outside looking for his receiver. Instead of getting it out quickly to an open Cam McDonald, Travis forced it into Lawrance Toafili. Notre Dame defender Clearance Lewis picked off the tipped pass, giving Notre Dame a sudden change short field situation that saw them go up 38-20.
4. FSU stops the Irish on an early 4th down attempt to keep momentum
After a slow start offensively for FSU, Jashaun Corbin was able to bust off an 89-yard touchdown run, calming the offense down and making an already loud stadium go bananas. On the ensuing drive, the Irish had gotten right back into FSU’s side of the field. Coach Brian Kelly thought his team had control of the game, deciding to go for it on 4th and 1 from the 'Noles 44 yard line. Expecting a rush, Notre Dame decided to throw it out to the flat to running back Kyren Williams. In a close play, he was stopped just short of the chains - keeping the entire team locked in.
5. Keir Thomas comes up with a huge sack late to force a punt
FSU had just scored its second touchdown in the 4th quarter. Doak was LOUD, and the defense was energized. In a quick sequence, Notre Dame got into a 3rd and 4 situation at its own 31 yard-line. Clinging to a 38-35 lead, the Fighting Irish were looking to extend the drive and eat clock. FSU was able to control the line of scrimmage and get immediate pressure on Coan. Looking to get out of the pocket, Thomas was right there to take him down and force the punt. FSU would drive down and tie the game as the fourth quarter was coming to a close.