Florida State’s loss to No. 9 Notre Dame will likely eat at coach Mike Norvell for some time.
The Seminoles, spurred by two scoring drives from backup quarterback McKenzie Milton, outscored the visiting Fighting Irish 18-0 in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 38-38 and send the game to an improbable overtime period. Norvell’s squad had all the momentum they needed to secure the upset and the coach’s biggest win of his Florida State tenure.
Until he ended up icing his own kicker on what would have been a game-extending field goal, ultimately costing his team the win in heartbreaking fashion.
The unfortunate sequence began in Florida State’s offensive drive to start overtime. Facing third-and-4, Milton appeared to fumble the ball in the face of an oncoming blitz, but jumped on it at the 33 to force the Seminoles to kick a 50-yard field goal. Kicker Ryan Fitzgerald, who had already drilled a 43-yarder earlier to tie the game at 38, successfully hit the 50-yard attempt
But before Florida State snapped the ball, Norvell called a timeout to challenge the ruling of a fumble on the field, negating his kicker’s field goal. After a brief review, officials agreed that Milton’s arm was moving forward at the time, changing the result of the play to an incomplete pass. Officials moved the ball forward, though Fitzgerald’s second attempt was delayed further as they mistakenly spotted the ball near the 30-yard line — just 3 yards from where he attempted his first kick.
After correctly placing the ball back at the 19-yard line, Fitzgerald lined up for what on paper was an easier attempt. His second kick sailed wide left, however, giving Notre Dame the opportunity to escape Doak-Campbell Stadium with a gifted victory.
The Florida State defense did its part to force the Irish into a long field goal attempt, but Jonathan Doerer made his second attempt of the day following another time out from Norvell. He drilled it from 41 yards out to give Notre Dame the 41-38 win and rip the hearts out of Seminoles faithful everywhere.
Norvell’s special teams mistake wasn’t the only one Florida State suffered on Sunday. His defense gave up 366 passing yards and four touchdowns to Wisconsin transfer Jack Coan, while his own starter at quarterback, Jordan Travis, completed 9 of 19 passes for 130 yards; despite throwing two touchdowns, he also threw three interceptions, all of which resulted in Notre Dame touchdowns.
Those all contributed to Sunday’s loss, but none as directly — or as painfully — as the one Norvell committed against his own team.