(U-WIRE) LOUISVILLE, Ky. – They wanted to save at least one goal post, but after Louisville’s historic 26-20 win over Florida State Thursday night in Papa John’s Cardinal Stadium, both yellow H’s were torn down and hauled off. Unlike the eerily similar game against Kentucky two years earlier, the win likely signifies the greatest moment in Cardinal Football history.
“Was that deja vu or what?” exclaimed a beaming John L. Smith in the post-game press conference. “It was just like the Kentucky game. I was just standing their in disbelief.”
After knocking off the vaunted Seminoles in a torrential downpour in front of 38,109 delirious U of L fans, much of the players thoughts turned to their belief in themselves before the game.
“I talked to the offense, and I looked around at those 25 guys, and I said outside of this room, no one believes in us,” said quarterback Dave Ragone. “I just said ‘believe,’ and everyone just started chanting it. These guys are unbelievable.”
Another magnificent performance from Ragone was coupled with a rare occurrence this season: equally impressive performances from his much-maligned offensive counterparts. Joshua Tinch hauled in four catches for 93 yards and a touchdown. Damien Dorsey pulled in three catches, a touchdown, and had 49 punt return yards. Broderick Clark racked up 117 return yards on four kick-returns. And Henry Miller, a third-string runner a year ago, pulled off the improbable: a 25-yard dash into the end zone on the second play of overtime, sealing the win and his place in Cardinals’ lore.
“I just said to myself that no man was gonna bring me down,” said Miller. “The play was between the tackles, and that’s how I run. No man was going to bring me down.”
The overtime period was set up by a tremendous second half in which the Cardinals outscored the Seminoles 17-10, and kept Florida State out of the end zone for the entire fourth quarter and overtime.
The defense, which has had to compensate for the inexperience of the young offense for much of the season, were able to control their side of the field much the way they did during last season’s conference-winning run.
“It’s the first time we, as a defense, came out and played a complete game,” said senior safety Anthony Floyd, “from beginning to end.” Louisville’s Devon Thomas took down Florida State’s Chris Nix.
Dave Ragone’s words probably mirrored what much of the team and the city felt. “It was surreal,” said Ragone. “I mean it’s just unbelievable.”
The statistics certainly show that unlike the Cards’ showing two years ago in Tallahassee, this Cardinal squad could compete against a Top 5 Florida State program. Ragone threw for 182 yards on 15-of-27 passing, two touchdowns, and also rushed an astounding 21 times, for 43 yards. The Cards as a team rushed for 121 total yards, controlled time of possession 31:04 to 28:36, and controlled all aspects of special teams, in return yards, punts inside the 20, and one blocked punt.
“This is huge for the program. We should be thankful that they (Florida State) even gave us the courtesy to come here and play us, which not many other teams are willing to do,” said Smith. “This is probably the biggest one win we’ve had.”