“Obviously, we were extremely disappointed in the end of the game,” Gundy said. “And I told the team -- in our punt game, our special teams, that's my responsibility. I didn't see that coming. And, ultimately, at the end, there was some plays they made; there were some plays we made. But our inability to punt the ball like we needed to, based on just proper execution, is what really cost us the game. And so we'll get that cleaned up in the next game.
“We had tremendous leadership from our veteran players, and our freshmen played. They played hard. And they made some mistakes, but they made mistakes going full speed. And that's the future of your program. The guys didn't have the deer-in-the-headlights look at all. You know, we played a great football team. But they stood toe to toe.
“The disappointing part of it is that that's the third game in a row we've lost with five minutes to go we had a chance to win. Same thing in the Cotton Bowl, same thing Oklahoma. So we have to find a way to finish. As coaches, we got to look, we got to research, come up with a way -- myself. Starts with me, staff, and all the way down to the players. But I'm very proud of our team, the way they competed; and they didn't back down from anybody.”
Gundy was referring to two errant snaps on punts that gave the Seminoles excellent field position in the second half. But despite those snaps and quarterback J.W. Walsh committing two turnovers that proved to be costly, the Cowboys had their chance to hand Florida State its first loss since 2012.
OSU was only trailing 30-24 when the offense took over on its own 44-yard line with 5:08 remaining. But two plays later, Walsh tried to leap over Seminole cornerback P.J. Williams, who caught the Cowboys quarterback in midair and flipped him into the air. Walsh fumbled the ball as he came down headfirst, and Williams recovered.
It took Florida State and Jameis Winston just two plays to take a 37-24 lead when the returning Heisman Trophy winner found Rashad Greene on a 50-yard scoring pass and run.
But as they did all night, the Cowboys didn’t quit despite having numerous opportunities to leet the Seminoles pull away.
Walsh’s interception was returned by Florida State’s Nate Andrews to give the Seminoles a 10-0 lead just six and a half minutes into the game. However, with the Cowboys hopes slipping away in the fourth quarter, the OSU quarterback made the plays when he needed to, scoring on a 3-yard run with 1:55 remaining to pull the Cowboys within 37-31.
But the Seminoles recovered the OSU onside kick, and the Cowboys never got the ball back.“You know, I think we were down 17 to nothing at one point, so to be able to battle back the way we did with all the young guys taking the field for us, it was good to see and we’re looking forward to the rest of the season,” said Walsh, who was 15 of 27 passing for 203 yards, including a 55-yard touchdown pass to David Glidden, and also led the Cowboys with 51 rushing yards.
Tyreek Hill made his debut for the Cowboys and didn’t disappoint. Although he did not score in his first major college football game, the junior college transfer did more than his share, finishing with 278 all-purpose yards (44 rushing, 62 receiving, 140 kick return, and 32 punt return).
“That was a fight … that’s the game of football,” said Winston, who was 25 of 40 passing for 370 yards and the one touchdown to Greene. But the reigning Heisman Trophy winner also was intercepted twice by the Cowboys – once by linebacker Seth Jacobs when the Seminoles had driven to the 13-yard line and by cornerback Ashton Lampkin late in the first half.
The Cowboys returns to action next Saturday against Missouri State at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater. Kickoff is 2:30 p.m.