Noles Outlast Canes in Tallahassee
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It was a game befitting of college football’s greatest rivalry.
In the deafening din of Doak Campbell Stadium, the Miami Hurricanes went toe to toe with the Florida State Seminoles. The true freshman quarterback was showing poise in the pocket. The offensive line was creating real estate for the running backs. The defense blitzed early, often and effectively.
But as Saturday afternoon turned into evening, the nation’s fourth-ranked outfit finally fended off the Canes, holding on in the fourth quarter for a tense, tight 27-20 victory in Tallahassee.
FSU improved to 10-0 overall and finished its ACC slate 8-0. Miami fell to 6-4 and 2-4 in conference play. It was the Seminoles’ third straight win over the Canes after four straight losses in the series.
Miami’s defense racked up three sacks and nine tackles for loss, holding the Seminoles 136 yards below their season average. Linebacker Francisco Mauigoa and safety James Williams led the team with nine tackles and Mauigoa had two sacks. Safety Kam Kinchens added six stops and linebacker Wesley Bissainthe recorded five tackles, including three TFLs.
Emory Williams, the first UM true freshman quarterback to start against FSU since Brad Kaaya in 2014, threw for 175 yards and two touchdowns – both to wide receiver Jacolby George, who had a career day with five receptions for 153 yards. Quarterback Tyler Van Dyke, who had started eight games this year, came in for an injured Williams late in the game.
Running backs Don Chaney, Jr. and Mark Fletcher, Jr. combined for 132 yards, with Chaney averaging 7.1 yards per carry.
FSU quarterback Jordan Travis threw for 265 yards and one touchdown. Running back Trey Benson rushed for 80 yards and one score. Wide receiver Johnny Wilson caught five passes for 82 yards, while fellow wideout Keon Coleman made four catches for 24 yards and one touchdown. Linebacker Kalen DeLoach recorded 10 tackles and two sacks for the Seminoles.
FSU managed one first down on the opening possession before pinning Miami down at its own two-yard line. The Canes went three-and-out and the Seminoles got the ball back at their own 45.
Travis converted a 3rd and 8 with a 16-yard pass to tight end Markeston Douglas to the Miami 21. Four plays later Benson bulldozed his way into the end zone and FSU had an early 7-0 lead.
On their next drive the Canes faced a 3rd and 3 on their 32 and Williams hit George, who shed a tackle and raced for a first down at the Seminoles 25. DeLoach sacked Williams for a 10-yard loss, forcing a 51-yard field goal try by Andy Borregales. It missed wide left and the Seminoles took over.
Travis connected with Wilson for 18 yards, and then rolled out to hit tight end Jaheim Bell for 16 yards to the Miami 17. But cornerback Damari Brown broke up a pass in the end zone on third down and FSU settled for a 33-yard field goal by Ryan Fitzgerald to increase its lead to 10-0.
Williams found George on another quick strike for 25 yards, but the drive stalled after another DeLoach sack. Dylan Joyce pinned the Seminoles back at their 14-yard line, and linebacker K.J. Cloyd made a key third down tackle to force an FSU punt.
Williams scrambled six yards for a first down and then Chaney raced 26 yards around the right end to move the ball to the Seminoles 34. Two plays later, Chaney cut right again and gave the Canes a first and goal at the five-yard line. On 3rd and goal Williams lofted a gorgeous throw to George in the back right corner of the end zone. It was the first touchdown pass allowed by the Seminoles at home this season, capping an 11-play, 82-yard drive. The Canes were on the board with 2:42 left in the half.
After a holding penalty pushed FSU back to its 15, Bissainthe hunted down Travis in the backfield and sacked the quarterback at the one-yard line. The Seminoles had to punt from their end zone, wide receiver Ray Ray Joseph returned it for 16 yards and the Canes were in business at the FSU 31 with 1:24 left.
Chaney had another big run for 18 yards before Williams hit wide receiver Brashard Smith for nine yards to the four-yard line. But FSU stuffed Fletcher on third and one and Borregales nailed a 27-yard field goal on the last play of the half to tie the game at 10. Miami held the Seminoles’ offense – ranked third in the ACC in yards per game – to 126 yards in the first 30 minutes.
FSU attempted some trickery to start the second half but wide receiver Frank Ladson, Jr. recovered the onside kick at the Seminoles 47. Fletcher rushed 20 yards on the next play, but the drive stalled and Borregales trotted out for another 51-yard field goal. This one was true and Miami had its first lead of the game at 13-10.
Travis responded, throwing a 62-yard strike to wide receiver Ja’Khi Douglas to give FSU first and goal at the five-yard line. But the Canes defense held and forced a 22-yard field goal from Fitzgerald that tied up the game again.
The Seminoles forced a three-and-out and needed just four plays to retake the lead. Travis connected with Wilson on a 26-yard completion and then Benson raced 38 yards to the end zone. It was 20-13 with 5:48 left in the third quarter.
Miami punted again and Travis moved the Seminoles past midfield before Mauigoa sacked him for 13-yard loss. The Canes got the ball back but all the way back at their five-yard line. Miami couldn’t move the chains, but Joyce delivered a booming, 60-yard punt that put FSU back at its 29. The defense forced a three-and-out and the Canes took over at their 15.
The Canes again went three-and-out and this time Coleman made them pay on the punt return, scampering 57 yards to set up FSU with first and goal at the 10-yard line. Coleman then finished the drive with a six-yard touchdown reception that increased the Seminoles’ lead to two touchdowns.
The teams exchanged punts before Williams – who had thrown eight straight incompletions – looked down field for George, who hauled in the pass, shook free from FSU cornerback Fentrell Cypress II and raced to the end zone for an 85-yard touchdown. It was the longest Miami touchdown pass in the series’ storied history. Suddenly, the Canes were back within a touchdown with 8:22 remaining.
FSU crossed midfield but Mauigoa registered another huge third-down sack to force a punt. The Canes took over at their 12-yard line with 4:26 left and three plays later faced 4th and 2. Williams scrambled left to pick up the first down but was injured on the play. Van Dyke entered the game as the officials placed the ball at the 22-yard line.
On 3rd and 12 Van Dyke connected with wide receiver Colbie Young for 14 yards and then hit Young again for 15 yards to the Canes 49. After three straight incompletions, it was 4th and 10 with 48 seconds on the clock. Linebacker Jarrian Jones picked off Van Dyke to end the game.
The Canes next host Louisville in their home finale next Saturday at Hard Rock Stadium. Kickoff is 12 p.m.