LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Quarterback Tate Rodemaker came off the bench to lead Florida State to a come-from-behind 35-31 victory over Louisville on Friday night.
The sophomore went in after Jordan Travis suffered a lower left leg injury with a little more than four minutes left in the second quarter and Florida State down 21-14.
Rodemaker led the Seminoles to three 75-yard second-half scoring drives. The last came with 7:54 left on a sensational 2-yard catch in the end zone by wide receiver Johnny Wilson that put the Seminoles (3-0, 1-0 ACC) up for good.
“I knew we could win with Tate,” Seminoles coach Mike Norvell said. “I’ve seen him so much invest and be prepared for the moment.”
Florida State, which had lost six straight ACC openers since 2016, has opened 3-0 for the first time since 2015.
Rodemaker finished 6-for-10 passing for 109 yards with two touchdowns and an interception while leading Florida State to 260 of their 455 yards. Running back Treshaun Ward added 126 yards on 10 carries. Wilson finished with seven catches for 149 yards and both touchdowns from Rodemaker, all those career highs.
Asked about Wilson, Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said: “Is that the big guy? That’s what made him (difficult to defend). … He’s a weapon at 6-7. Our guys aren’t that tall.”
Before starting his postgame news conference, Norvell spent a few moments looking at the box score and smiling. He ended it with a fist pump on the table.
“I believe in the character of this team,” he said. “I love coaching this team.
“The identity of Florida State football showed up tonight.”
Louisville (1-2, 0-2) lost despite racking up 495 yards on offense. Malik Cunningham threw for 243 yards on 21-of-34 passing with a touchdown and an interception. The fifth-year senior also added 127 yards rushing and two scores on 17 carries.
Running back Jawhar Jordan had a career-high 91 yards on 17 carries, averaging more than 5 yards per attempt.
The Cardinals had a chance to win the game after the Seminoles’ Ryan Fitzgerald missed a 36-yard field goal with 1:44 left, but defensive back Kevin Knowles II picked off a Cunningham pass at the Florida State 38-yard line with 37 seconds left.
“It’s just very hurtful and disappointing not being able to win this game,” Satterfield said. “We know Florida State’s a good team, but we were right there.”
Travis opened the game for Florida State by completing his first 11 passes, two of which went for touchdowns, before the redshirt junior was hurt. He left the field on his own power and went straight into the locker room. Travis was on the sideline in the second half with crutches and a boot.
After allowing one sack through the first two games, Florida State allowed four sacks for the first time since against Florida on Nov. 27, 2021.
It may be hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but given the way the Cardinals’ season started, this game was one they really needed. The defense that showed up in the second half of the win at UCF last week failed to show up when needed in the second half Friday.