Recap: Canes Can't Overcome Slow Start , 23-19
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Greg Reid scored on an 83-yard punt return and Dustin Hopkins kicked three field goals Saturday to lead Florida State to a 23-19 win over longtime nemesis Miami.
Florida State (7-3, 5 -2 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 17-7 at the half and held Miami to its lowest scoring total of the season. The Hurricanes had scored at least 21 points in each of their previous nine games.
Florida State has won five straight games since an early-season three-game slide knocked them out of the rankings and a possibility at an ACC championship. Clemson clinched the Atlantic Division with its win Saturday over Wake Forest.
Miami (5-5, 3-4 ACC) couldn’t overcome three early turnovers, but made it interesting late in the game with a pair of 80-yard scoring drives culminated by 1-yard runs by Mike James.
The Hurricanes led just once in the game at 7-3 on Jacory Harris’ 2-yard throw to tight end Clive Watford in the second quarter before Florida State scored 20 unanswered points to build its lead to 23-7 early in the fourth quarter on Hopkins’ third field goal. Miami’s lead came on Harris’ 2-yard TD pass to CClive Walford, but Florida State quickly regained the lead at 10-7 when Rodney Smith beat two Miami defenders in the end zone to grab a 21-yard throw from Manuel with 4:42 left in the half.
Reid’s 83-yard punt return with 51 seconds left in the second quarter gave the Seminoles a 17-7 lead. Reid, who led the nation in punt returns two years ago as a freshman, fielded Dalton Bott’s punt on one bounce and raced straight up the middle of the field untouched to the end zone. He finished his day’s work with 106 yards on three punt returns.
Miami dominated the early going in a lengthy, bizarre first half delayed by five video replays, including a time-consuming double reversal where the initial replay call to overturn an officials decision was reversed. The second reversal, however, appeared to get that call correct.
By the time Florida State managed to gets its initial first down midway through the second quarter on EJ Manuel’s 24-yard pass to Christian Green, Miami had outgained the Seminoles 165 yards to 13.
But three costly first half turnovers kept them from adding points. The Hurricanes used more than seven minutes on a lengthy drive from its own one to the Florida State nine before Harris was intercepted in the end zone by Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner.
The Hurricanes were haunted by three turnovers in the first half and trailed by 10 points despite having limited Florida State to 87 yards and three first downs.
Neither quarterback really got untracked. Harris completed 20 of 31 passes for 225 yards and an interception while Manuel, who was playing in this vaunted series for the first time, was 17 of 23 for 196 yards and suffered three sacks.
Hopkins’ last two field goals gave Florida State a 23-7 lead with 11:07 left in the game. His second field goal made it 20-7 after the Seminoles failed to punch it in after an 83-yard opening drive in the second half.
Hopkins 37-yard field goal was the only scoring in a wild first quarter when both teams avoided potentially disastrous mistakes.
Florida State appeared to score on the game’s first play from scrimmage when Joyner scooped up an apparent fumble by Miami receiver Allen Hurns and returned it 34 yards, But the touchdown ruling on the field was overturned by replay officials who decided Hurns didn’t have possession long enough. It was instead called an incomplete pass.
But Florida State also dodged a bullet when Manuel’s desperation pass near his own goal line was initially ruled a safety with the Seminoles leading 3-0. It was that call that led to a lengthy interruption as the replay booth overruled the field officials and the points were put on the scoreboard — for a short time. That decision was rescinded as the final ruling in which Manuel’s feet were still outside of the end zone, which TV replays appeared to confirm.
It was the first time in six years the home team won. The game was played four days shy of the 20th anniversary of Miami’s 17-16 win over the Seminoles in a 1991 matchup of unbeaten teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2. Florida State’s Gerry Thomas missed a 34-yard field goal in the final seconds after hitting his first three that day.
Miami, which still needs a win to become bowl eligible, visits South Florida next Saturday before hosting Boston College in its season finale, Nov. 25.
MILLER MOVING UP THE CHARTS
1) Willis McGahee – 2002, 1,753, 282
BENJAMIN REACHES MILESTONE
J12 MOVES INTO FOURTH PLACE ON ACC LIST
1. Philip Rivers, NC State (2000-03) 95
WALFORD FOR THE SCORE
FIRST QUARTER D
Starting for Miami on defense was: Anthony Chickillo (LDE), Adewale Ojomo (LT), Darius Smith (RT), Olivier Vernon (RDE), Denzel Perryman (WLB), Sean Spence (MLB), Marcus Robinson (SLB), Mike Williams (CB), Vaughn Telemaque (FS), JoJo Nicolas (SS), Brandon McGee (CB).