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Still unbeaten: FSU rallies from 21 down in Louisville

Oct 31, 2014 - 5:35 AM Louisville, KY ( - Florida State escaped by the skin of its teeth once again on Thursday.

The second-ranked Seminoles fell into a huge hole against upset-minded Louisville but scored 35 of the final 42 points to pull out a hard-fought 42-31 victory in a hostile environment.

Flirting with disaster has become commonplace for the Seminoles, who beat Clemson in overtime last month, overcame a 17-point deficit against NC State and needed a questionable pass interference call in the final seconds to upend previously unbeaten Notre Dame their previous time out.

Thursday's comeback may have topped them all, as they trailed 21-0 against one of the nation's stingiest defenses and never blinked an eye.

Dalvin Cook scored the go-ahead touchdown with 3:46 left in regulation, and FSU (8-0, 5-0 ACC) miraculously ran its school-record winning streak to 24.

The defending national champions, who came in at No. 2 in the first college playoff rankings released on Tuesday, were hit in the mouth early but made big play after big play in second half.

"We put ourselves in some very tough situations...but our guys believe in each other," FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "They are a great group."

Jameis Winston was intercepted three times and still wound up throwing for 401 yards and three touchdowns for the Seminoles, who racked up 574 yards of total offense -- more than 300 than the Cardinals had allowed coming in.

Cook ran for 110 yards and two scores, while FSU's defense bore down in clutch situations, holding Louisville to 1-of-11 efficiency on third down.

Will Gardner threw for 330 yards, 214 of which went to DeVante Parker, while Michael Dyer gashed the Seminoles for 134 yards and three TDs on the ground.

Louisville (6-2, 4-2) was trying to end FSU's 19-game win streak against ACC opponents in their first meeting as conference rivals.

That nearly came to fruition before the bounces started going the other way.

A lucky break in the final minute of the first half helped the Seminoles pull within a manageable 21-7 at the break. Winston and Karlos Williams botched an exchange near the goal line, and tight end Nick O'Leary was in the right spot for the recovery in the end zone.

The ball went FSU's way again on the first play of the second half. Winston was intercepted by Gerod Holliman for the second time but tracked down the defensive back and knocked the ball away.

The Seminoles recovered the fumble and turned the ball over on downs near midfield, but after John Wallace padded Louisville's lead with a 33-yard field goal, FSU scored 21 straight points to climb in front for the first time.

Travis Rudolph ran right past the Louisville secondary for a 68-yard touchdown catch, and Cook took a simple draw and sprinted 40 yards for a score.

One play after Holliman dropped what would have been his third interception, Winston completed a pass through traffic to Ermon Lane, who broke a tackle and went in for 47-yard touchdown that gave FSU a 28-24 lead with 12:48 left in regulation.

The Cardinals answered quickly, as Parker's 51-yard catch set up Dyer's 1-yard plunge over the goal line.

After punting in enemy territory, the Seminoles forced a three-and-out and took over at their own 38 with 3:55 remaining. They scored on the next play as Cook shed a would-be tackler near the line of scrimmage and cruised up the sideline for the go-ahead TD.

Four straight incompletions by Gardner gave the Seminoles the ball back, and Winston's 35-yard touchdown pass to Freddie Stevenson on third down sealed the outcome.

Even though the Cardinals turned the ball over on downs near the goal line on their opening possession, they owned the first half.

Dyer broke off a 17-yard run on the last play of the first quarter, added 20 more on the first snap of the second and finished off a quick drive with a 4- yard plunge into the end zone.

Louisville's defense, which came into the game with a nation-leading 15 interceptions, picked off Winston each of the next two FSU possessions.

James Burgess returned his interception just past midfield, and it only took five plays for the Cardinals to make it a 14-0 game as Dyer went untouched for a 12-yard score.

Winston overthrew his intended receiver on his next pass, and Holliman kept his feet inbounds while hauling it in at the FSU 43-yard line.

Again the Cardinals quickly scored, with Gerald Christian catching one at his shoestrings and diving over the goal line for an 11-yard TD.

Game Notes

Holliman leads the nation with 10 interceptions ... FSU's Roberto Aguayo saw his streak of successful field goals end at 23 when his 41-yard try narrowly missed wide right late in the third quarter ... Williams, who played despite being investigated for a domestic battery incident, rushed for 72 yards on 16 carries ... FSU has won 13 of the 15 all-time meetings.