Play of the GameTrailing 31-27 with 17 seconds remaining at the Florida State 2-yard line, Irish quarterback Everett Golson fired a field-side out route to his right, hitting a wide open Corey Robinson for what appeared to be the go-ahead score. The touchdown was nullified when officials deemed junior receiver C.J. Prosise interfered in his efforts to complete his pass route.
Aligned as the third man in from the sideline with Prosise between him and Will Fuller, Robinson escaped coverage underneath two rub routes by Prosise and Fuller that freed the sophomore for what would have been his third touchdown of the contest.
Pushed back thereafter to his own 18-yard line, Golson's last-gasp pass was intercepted at the back of the end zone with no receiver in the vicinity.
Said Kelly of the penultimate play, "We execute that play every day and we coach it legally. We don't coach illegal plays."
Asked if he received an explanation, Kelly offered, "No. No explanation."
As for his words of advice for the offending Prosise post-game, Kelly said, "He did exactly what he's coached to do. Exactly what he's supposed to do."
Offensive MVP -- Everett GolsonThe senior triggerman hit for 313 yards with three touchdowns and two interceptions, absorbing contact on both turnovers including the game-ending pass, his 52nd of the contest. Golson was sacked three times by the Seminoles front but also produced key plays escaping pressure, picking up a pair of first downs with third-down conversions.
Said Golson of the final drive and ending plays: "On that final drive, I told my guys were were going to go down and score. And we didn't do that. Big-time players make big-time plays. I didn't make the last play for whatever reason.
"They called offensive pass interference. That's something you can't argue with. You just have to play through. That last play on 4th-and-18, I probably could have made a play. That's what I'm most disappointed in.
"We put C.J. down the middle," he said of the final offensive snap. "They sent a couple DB's (to blitz) off the right and actually put No. 16 (LB Jacob Pugh) in coverage. Anytime he was in coverage (against a wide receiver) I wanted to take advantage of that. I didn't do that on the last play."
Pugh intercepted the hurried, errant throw to conclude the contest.
Golson completed 31 of his 52 pass attempts, both numbers one short of his career highs.
Said Kelly of Golson and defending Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston (23-31, 273 yards, 2 TD, 1 TD). "Winston is a very good player. I thought our quarterback played better than him tonight. It just didn't show up on the scoreboard."
The Seminole defense broke up an astounding 10 passes on the evening, at least three at scrimmage.
Game Balls -- Three SophomoresCorey Robinson was a yellow flag away from weeks, perhaps months of national attention with what would have been his third touchdown of the contest. Instead, the sophomore from San Antonio will settle for an eight-reception, 99-yard, two touchdown evening, one that included a remarkable 4th-and-18 reception and subsequent dive past the first down marker to keep his team's final drive alive with 1:18 remaining.
Said Robinson of his would-be third score called back by penalty.
"I think I scored (on the same play) on that first (touchdown) as well. I don't know what happened. I didn't see the pass interference. I thought we got it."
Robinson's eight catches tied season and career-highs while his 99 yards were a personal best.
-- Sophomore Will Fuller continued to be a clutch performer and playmaker, finishing with eight receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. Fuller chipped in on the final drive with a 17-yard catch-and-run slant route on second down that moved the Irish into Seminoles territory.
"I can't even explain how I felt when I saw the flag. I didn't see what happened. I was just running my route. I saw Corey catch the ball and I thought we won the game. We're both rubbing for Corey (to come underneath). I had a flag (route); I don't know what C.J. had.
"Don't' run into him, just get in his way and make him rub over the top," he said of his assignment.
-- A third sophomore shined Saturday night as well, as second-year man Tarean Folston erupted for 120 yards on 21 carries, his second straight 100-plus yard effort from scrimmage and third of his career.
"He's an outstanding 'back," said Kelly. "Our offensive line did an outstanding job. He runs hard. He's an elusive and an effective back."
Defensive MVP -- Jarron Jones365 days removed from a stint on the Irish scout team, the junior from Rochester, NY authored the game of his career to date, registering three tackles for loss and a stop for no gain among his six stops, adding a quarterback pressure that resulted in Winston's only interception of the contest.
Said Kelly of the defensive line's effort as a unit. "We were concerned with the matchups on the perimeter. We were only too happy if they were going to run the football."
Notre Dame limited Florida State to 50 net rushing yards on 26 carries including a sack of Winston and six tackles-for-loss -- five by a trio of front-line players Jones, Sheldon Day, and Romeo Okwara.
Defensive Game Balls-- Senior linebacker Joe Schmidt added nine tackles to his aforementioned interception. The latter play set up a Notre Dame score two snaps later for a 14-7 Irish advantage midway through the second quarter.
"Jarron got some great pressure, flushed (Winston) a little bit and he just kind of threw it up there for what felt like a millennium," said Schmidt of his interception.
Schmidt was crestfallen exiting the field and took blame for the defense's late shortcomings defending the run during a game in which his unit rocked the Seminoles rushing attack for the bulk of the contest.
"I think the guys played tenaciously. It was one of the things we wanted to highlight," he said. "We still could have been better. They rushed it in on the goal line twice. Which wasn't fun.
-- Sophomore linebacker Jaylon Smith was credited with four tackles and a quarterback hurry while both Sheldon Day and Romeo Okwara registered tackles-for-loss as well. Day provided a consistent push against the Florida State front.
With the exception of an end zone holding call on Cody Riggs, Notre Dame's defense held the Seminoles without a third-down conversion through the game's first 52 minutes. Florida State thereafter converted twice on third-and-short -- on the same drive -- to push in what became the game-winning score.
Special Teams MVP -- Kyle BrindzaBrindza delivered in the clutch again, drilling a 46-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to put the Irish ahead, 27-24 with 11;40 remaining. With the exception of a botched hold attempt two weeks ago in a win over Stanford (one Brindza tried to kick anyway), the senior has never missed a clutch fourth quarter or overtime field goal attempt. (22 for 22), also missing once against Temple when staked to a 28-6 fourth quarter lead.
Brindza averaged 43.7 yards per punt on the evening including a crucial 52-yarder that flipped late third-quarter field position. He dropped two of his three boots inside the Seminoles 20-yard line.