McKenzie Milton Makes Miraculous Return To Football, Notre Dame Survives Upset Bid

After the first full Saturday of the college football season, it would be hard to blame anyone for being a little burned out. Hopefully you summoned enough energy to to watch Sunday night’s thriller in Tallahassee, because the game between Notre Dame and Florida State had everything that a college football fan could hope for. 

No. 9 Notre Dame survived an upset bid from Florida State, getting a 41-yard field goal from Jonathan Doerer in a 41-38 overtime victory.

Heading into the fourth quarter, the idea of overtime seemed far-fetched. The Irish led 38-20 and quarterback Jack Coan was hot. Coan would finish the night 26-35 for 366 yards and four touchdowns as the grad transfer made his first appearance for the legendary program. 

But Seminoles starting quarterback Jordan Travis threw an eight-yard touchdown pass to Andrew Parchment to start the fourth quarter, and then the magic happened. 

With under nine minutes to play in the fourth, Travis was forced to the sideline after his helmet came off during play. Backup QB McKenzie Milton entered the game seemingly to spell Travis for a down, but it became so much more than that. 

For those who are unfamiliar, Milton had not played in a college football game since 2018 — 1,017 days — after suffering a catastrophic leg injury while playing at UCF. 

On November 23, 2018, Milton suffered a horrific injury, dislocating his knee, tearing ligaments, and suffering artery and nerve damage to his leg. Doctors hoped that one day he would be able walk without a limp. The thought of playing football not in the equation. 

And yet, Milton not only played a snap in a college football game, he led the Seminoles back from a 10-point deficit to send the game into overtime. 

“It was time to roll,” Milton said. “I didn’t have time to process any emotions. A job had to be done. God is real. That’s the one thing I can say. Nobody’s ever come back from an injury like this. Thousands of people praying for me from the moment I got hurt. Coaches believing in me. I’m not here without all the support, all the prayers.”

Treshaun Ward’s two-yard touchdown run with 5:36 left in the fourth quarter got Florida State within three. Milton completed two passes on the drive, later leading Florida State down the field to tie the game on a field goal and send the game to OT. 

Milton finished the game 5-7 for 48 yards and three rushes for six yards. 

“I couldn’t get the smile off my face,” Travis said. “To see him run on the field, it gave me chills. He’s a great dude. I’m so happy to see him on the field performing, and I’m blessed to have him on my team.”

A missed field goal by Florida State kicker Ryan Fitzgerald in overtime opened the door for Notre Dame, who didn’t miss on their field goal attempt, allowing the Irish to escape Tallahassee with an opening weekend win. 

“What’s most important is going on the road, winning the opener against a team that presented a lot of challenges,” Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly said. “We know we got work to do, but I like this team. We’ll get better and we’ll make a lot of improvement in week 2.”

But while Notre Dame will look back on Sunday night as their first successful challenge of the 2021 season, the college football world will remember it as the night Milton made his miraculous return to the game of football. 

“I don’t care if he plays another snap ever again,” said Michael Milton, one of his brothers. “Just seeing him play football again was just awesome. I came out here two months after his surgery, and from there to now is just incredible. I couldn’t do what he’s done.”

“It was three years ago when I was playing ball. I was definitely grateful to be out there playing with the guys,” Milton said. “We went through a lot of hard training through January up to this point. We all got a bunch of bruises. I’m just super proud of the way our guys fought today.”

Joe Morgan is the Sports Reporter for The Daily Wire. Most recently, Morgan covered the Clippers, Lakers, and the NBA for Sporting News. Send your sports questions to

The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.

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