FSU Defense Delivers ACC Title, BCS Berth in 21-15 Win

By: FSU Media Relations
By: FSU Media Relations

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When No. 12/13 Florida State needed it most, the defense delivered.

In FSU's 21-15 crown-clinching victory over Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game Saturday night, the 'Noles' defense started by delivering the discipline: they held the Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense -- the No. 3-ranked rushing offense in the country with a per-game average of 323.3 yards -- to just 183 on the ground.

Then they delivered the knock-out punch: Karlos Williams intercepted Georgia Tech's (6-7) Tevin Washington and returned it deep into Yellow Jackets' territory with just one minute left.

And finally, they delivered the celebretory post-game Powerade bath to Mark Stoops: FSU's (11-2) third-year defensive coordinator accepted the Kentucky head coaching job earlier this week much to the delight of the Seminoles players, who dedicated the the game at Bank of America Stadium to him.

In the end, head coach Jimbo Fisher was doused in Powerade, too. After all, his team will deliver an ACC Championship Trophy to Tallahassee for the first time since 2005 and as a result will head back to a BCS game -- the Orange Bowl -- for the first time since then as well.

"That first one, you've got to get over that hump, and once you get over that hump you know what it takes," Fisher said about winning the league, his first as FSU's coach and the 13th in program history. "Hopefully from now on out, we can continue to play for the years to come and play great football."

FSU didn't play great football on offense against a less-than-stellar Georgia Tech defense but ultimately that didn't matter with Stoops' squad in control.

The Yellow Jackets' 183 yards rushing were the second-fewest recorded by the ACC Coastal Division champions all season, limited Georgia Tech to just 4-of-15 third-down conversion attempts and held them scoreless for the game's first 20:34 -- the longest such drought to start a game all season.

Williams was certainly the hero as his game-high and career-high 11 tackles were only made more special by his impressive game-saving interception against a Georgia Tech offense that wasn't lacking momentum on its journey towards a potential championship-earning touchdown.

"We changed the coverage went to a zone coverage and Karlos saw it, and he burst it, man, he's so athletic," Fisher said. "He tipped it. He had the ball skills to maintain and hold onto that ball. What a play.

Telvin Smith added 11 tackles of his own and Timmy Jernigan and Christian Jones both had nine stops. Starting the first game of his career in place of the injured Cornellius Carradine, freshman defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. added seven tackles and an athletic second-half tackle-for-losss and Vince Williams had six tackles and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Georgia Tech finished with 301 total yards to FSU's 328.

EJ Manuel was responsible for 183 of those yards as the redshirt senior quarterback threw for 134 on 16-of-21 passing and added 49 rushing on 10 carries but had three critical turnovers.

James Wilder, Jr. picked up 69 yards on the ground, two touchdowns and an MVP trophy for his efforts and Devonta Freeman added 59 yards on 13 rushes and score for a 2012 FSU team that now owns the school record for most touchdown runs in a season with 37.

The 'Noles finished with 194 yards on the ground to become just the third team this season to out-rush the Yellow Jackets.

Sophomore Rashad Greene grabbed a career-high nine passes for 82 yards as the lone bright spot in FSU's pass game. The Seminoles were held scoreless in the second half for the second time this season (the loss at NC State was the other).

"In the second half we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, lined up wrong, we'd get a drive going and then we had a fumble down in there," Fisher said, "but we did enough to win the game, and I'm going to tell you, we still won 11 games and won the ACC.

After the defense did its job by forcing a three-and-out on the first possession of the ballgame, FSU's offense opened with a 21-yard catch and run by Lonnie Pryor. Five plays later, Manuel's well-timed pitch to Freeman on the option-run resulted in a three-yard dash to the endzone by the sophomore tailback and an early 7-0 lead by the 'Noles.

The lead then increased to 14-0 early in the second quarter thanks to a 16-yard Wilder, Jr. run. His scoring scamper was set up by Manuel's 20-yard option keeper.

Following a 42-yard Georgia Tech field goal moments later, Wilder, Jr. added his second score of the night with a one-yard plunge that pushed FSU's advantage to 21-3. The Yellow Jackets then added a 47-yard field goal with 1:12 left in the second quarter to make it a 21-6 ballgame heading into halftime.

Through the game's first 30 minutes, FSU averaged 7.2 yards per play while Georgia Tech averaged just 3.8.

But for as good as FSU was offensively in the first half, the second half -- as it has been on occasion this year -- wasn't nearly as kind.

It started with a Kelvin Benjamin fumble midway through the third quarter, and even though it was immediately followed by Xavier Rhodes' interception to get the ball back one play later, it set a an all-too-familiar theme after last weekend's four-turnover performance against Florida.

Driving into scoring position after Georgia Tech connected on a deficit-trimming 36-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the third quarter, Manuel was sacked and fumbled early in the final period.

But unlike FSU's first turnover, the Yellow Jackets made this one sting. Georgia Tech went 70 yards in 13 plays after that takeaway and, before a failed two-point conversion attempt, scored on a one-yard Washington run to pay dirt that made it a 21-15 game with a little more than six minutes remaining in the conference-clinching contest.

Four minutes later, FSU was faced with a third-and-10 before the turnover bug bit again. On his deep pass attempt to Benjamin, Manuel was intercepted and Georgia Tech took over on its own 15 yard-line with 2:17 on the clock.

Following his team's fourth fourth-down conversion of the night, Washington was then intercepted by Williams who returned it 41 yards before being pushed out of bounds and the Seminoles set up in victory formation.

After the game, Florida State accepted an official invite to compete in the Orange Bowl on Near Year's Day in Miami, likely against Big East champion -- and future ACC member -- Louisville.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- When No. 12/13 Florida State needed it most, the defense delivered.

In FSU's 21-15 crown-clinching victory over Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game Saturday night, the 'Noles' defense started by delivering the discipline: they held the Yellow Jackets' triple-option offense -- the No. 3-ranked rushing offense in the country with a per-game average of 323.3 yards -- to just 183 on the ground.

Then they delivered the knock-out punch: Karlos Williams intercepted Georgia Tech's (6-7) Tevin Washington and returned it deep into Yellow Jackets' territory with just one minute left.

And finally, they delivered the celebretory post-game Powerade bath to Mark Stoops: FSU's (11-2) third-year defensive coordinator accepted the Kentucky head coaching job earlier this week much to the delight of the Seminoles players, who dedicated the the game at Bank of America Stadium to him.

In the end, head coach Jimbo Fisher was doused in Powerade, too. After all, his team will deliver an ACC Championship Trophy to Tallahassee for the first time since 2005 and as a result will head back to a BCS game -- the Orange Bowl -- for the first time since then as well.

"That first one, you've got to get over that hump, and once you get over that hump you know what it takes," Fisher said about winning the league, his first as FSU's coach and the 13th in program history. "Hopefully from now on out, we can continue to play for the years to come and play great football."

FSU didn't play great football on offense against a less-than-stellar Georgia Tech defense but ultimately that didn't matter with Stoops' squad in control.

The Yellow Jackets' 183 yards rushing were the second-fewest recorded by the ACC Coastal Division champions all season, limited Georgia Tech to just 4-of-15 third-down conversion attempts and held them scoreless for the game's first 20:34 -- the longest such drought to start a game all season.

Williams was certainly the hero as his game-high and career-high 11 tackles were only made more special by his impressive game-saving interception against a Georgia Tech offense that wasn't lacking momentum on its journey towards a potential championship-earning touchdown.

"We changed the coverage went to a zone coverage and Karlos saw it, and he burst it, man, he's so athletic," Fisher said. "He tipped it. He had the ball skills to maintain and hold onto that ball. What a play.

Telvin Smith added 11 tackles of his own and Timmy Jernigan and Christian Jones both had nine stops. Starting the first game of his career in place of the injured Cornellius Carradine, freshman defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. added seven tackles and an athletic second-half tackle-for-losss and Vince Williams had six tackles and two tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

Georgia Tech finished with 301 total yards to FSU's 328.

EJ Manuel was responsible for 183 of those yards as the redshirt senior quarterback threw for 134 on 16-of-21 passing and added 49 rushing on 10 carries but had three critical turnovers.

James Wilder, Jr. picked up 69 yards on the ground, two touchdowns and an MVP trophy for his efforts and Devonta Freeman added 59 yards on 13 rushes and score for a 2012 FSU team that now owns the school record for most touchdown runs in a season with 37.

The 'Noles finished with 194 yards on the ground to become just the third team this season to out-rush the Yellow Jackets.

Sophomore Rashad Greene grabbed a career-high nine passes for 82 yards as the lone bright spot in FSU's pass game. The Seminoles were held scoreless in the second half for the second time this season (the loss at NC State was the other).

"In the second half we kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, lined up wrong, we'd get a drive going and then we had a fumble down in there," Fisher said, "but we did enough to win the game, and I'm going to tell you, we still won 11 games and won the ACC.

After the defense did its job by forcing a three-and-out on the first possession of the ballgame, FSU's offense opened with a 21-yard catch and run by Lonnie Pryor. Five plays later, Manuel's well-timed pitch to Freeman on the option-run resulted in a three-yard dash to the endzone by the sophomore tailback and an early 7-0 lead by the 'Noles.

The lead then increased to 14-0 early in the second quarter thanks to a 16-yard Wilder, Jr. run. His scoring scamper was set up by Manuel's 20-yard option keeper.

Following a 42-yard Georgia Tech field goal moments later, Wilder, Jr. added his second score of the night with a one-yard plunge that pushed FSU's advantage to 21-3. The Yellow Jackets then added a 47-yard field goal with 1:12 left in the second quarter to make it a 21-6 ballgame heading into halftime.

Through the game's first 30 minutes, FSU averaged 7.2 yards per play while Georgia Tech averaged just 3.8.

But for as good as FSU was offensively in the first half, the second half -- as it has been on occasion this year -- wasn't nearly as kind.

It started with a Kelvin Benjamin fumble midway through the third quarter, and even though it was immediately followed by Xavier Rhodes' interception to get the ball back one play later, it set a an all-too-familiar theme after last weekend's four-turnover performance against Florida.

Driving into scoring position after Georgia Tech connected on a deficit-trimming 36-yard field goal with 1:08 left in the third quarter, Manuel was sacked and fumbled early in the final period.

But unlike FSU's first turnover, the Yellow Jackets made this one sting. Georgia Tech went 70 yards in 13 plays after that takeaway and, before a failed two-point conversion attempt, scored on a one-yard Washington run to pay dirt that made it a 21-15 game with a little more than six minutes remaining in the conference-clinching contest.

Four minutes later, FSU was faced with a third-and-10 before the turnover bug bit again. On his deep pass attempt to Benjamin, Manuel was intercepted and Georgia Tech took over on its own 15 yard-line with 2:17 on the clock.

Following his team's fourth fourth-down conversion of the night, Washington was then intercepted by Williams who returned it 41 yards before being pushed out of bounds and the Seminoles set up in victory formation.

After the game, Florida State accepted an official invite to compete in the Orange Bowl on Near Year's Day in Miami, likely against Big East champion -- and future ACC member -- Louisville.

Final Game Notes
Luck Number 13
- Florida State won its 13th ACC Championship which trails only Clemson (14) for the most in conference history. The Seminoles didn’t join the ACC until 1992, while the Tigers were a charter member in 1953.
- The Seminoles are now 2-1 all-time in the ACC Championship Game. FSU defeated Virginia Tech, 27-22, in the inaugural ACC title game in 2005 in Jacksonville and fell to the Hokies, 44-33, in the 2010 game in Charlotte.
Goin’ BCS Bowlin’
- Florida State advance to its ninth Orange Bowl. The Seminoles are 3-5 all-time in the Orange Bowl.
- The Seminoles advance to their seventh BCS Bowl. FSU is 1-5 all-time in BCS Bowls, since playing in the first-ever BCS National Championship Game (1999 Fiesta Bowl).
- The last time FSU went to a BCS Bowl was the 2006 Orange Bowl, where it fell to Penn State, 26-23.
Losing Streak to Yellow Jackets Snapped
Florida State snapped a two-game losing streak to Georgia Tech and improved to 13-9-1 all-time versus the Yellow Jackets.
Seminoles Reach 11 Wins for 12th Time
FSU notched 11 wins in a season for the 12th time in school history and the first time since 2000.
Wilder, the MVP
Sophomore running back James Wilder, Jr. was named the ACC Championship Game MVP. He led FSU with 69 yards rushing on 10 carries and scored two touchdowns in the second quarter. Wilder’s two rushing scores give him 11 on the season and mark his fourth two-touchdown game of the year. He becomes just the eighth Seminole ever to rush for 10 or more touchdowns in a single season and just the second since Warrick Dunn in 1996 (Antone Smith, 15, 2008). His score followed Devonta Freeman’s first-quarter rushing touchdown, making it the 10th game FSU has had two rushing touchdowns or more. In four of the last six games, both Wilder and Freeman have rushed for touchdowns.
Seminoles Outrush Yellow Jackets
Florida State tallied 194 yards rushing compared to Georgia Tech’s 183 yards on the ground. The Yellow Jackets came into the game third in the NCAA in rushing at 323.3 yards/game.
What a Game for Karlos Williams
Sophomore safety Karlos Williams had a breakout game with a game-high and a career-best 11 tackles and a game-winning interception in the fourth quarter (his second career pick and first this season). His previous career-best in tackles was four.
Hopkins Sets ACC Single Season Mark
Senior kicker Dustin Hopkins made three extra points in the first half to give him 133 points this season, setting a new ACC record. The previous mark was held by former Virginia Tech running back Ryan Williams (132) set during the 2009 season.
Rhodes Makes a Pick
Junior cornerback Xavier Rhodes recorded his third interception of the season in the third quarter and the eighth of his career. He is just one pick away from entering the FSU top 20 in career interceptions.
Jernigan Tallies Career-Best
Sophomore Timmy Jernigan tallied a career-best nine tackles versus the Yellow Jackets. His previous career-best was six stops, which he done twice. He earned his first full sack of the 2012 season when he stopped Vad Lee in the first quarter. He now has 4.0 career sacks.
Telvin, Too
Junior linebacker Telvin Smith tallied a career-best with 11 tackles on Saturday. He had 10 tackles versus NC State earlier this season for his previous best.
Super Mario
Freshman defensive end Mario Edwards, Jr. tallied his first career start tonight and finished with a career-best seven tackles and a career-best-matching one TFL. He came into the contest with just seven total tackles and 1.5 TFLs this season.
EJ Passes 3,000
EJ Manuel’s nine-yard completion to Rashad Greene put the senior signal caller over 3,000 yards passing for the season, making him the seventh Seminole quarterback ever to reach that mark in a single season. His 3,101 passing yards this season rank seventh in FSU history. He passed Charlie Ward’s mark of 3,032 from 1993.
EJ Moves into Fifth in FSU History in Completions.
EJ Manuel completed 16-of-21 pass attempts to move into fifth-place in FSU history with 237 single-season completions, passing Christian Ponder (2009-227), Danny Kanell (1994-227), Chris Weinke (1999-232) and Thad Busby (1997-235).
Fourth FSU Squad to Reach 6,000 Yards
Florida State tallied over 6,000 total offensive yards for just the fourth time in school history, with 328 yards on Saturday night to give the Noles 6,057 this season to join the 1993 (6,576), 1995 (6,067) and 2000 (6,588) teams.
Freeman Scores First
Sophomore running back Devonta Freeman took an option pitch from EJ Manuel for a three-yard touchdown at the 10:45 mark in the first quarter to give Florida State the first points of the game. The score was his eighth this season, matching his total from 2011 and giving him 16 in his career, and equalling Lonnie Pryor for the FSU active career lead in rushing scores.
Seminoles Undefeated When Freeman Scores
Florida State moved to 11-0 when Devonta Freeman scores a touchdown.
Second 3,000-2,500 Team Ever
Florida State entered Saturday’s game with 3,284 yards passing and 2, 445 rushing. With 194 yards rushing in the game, the Seminoles became just the second FSU squad to pass for 3,000 yards and rush for 2,500 yards in a season, joining the 1993 squad (3,909 yards, 2,667 rushing).
Smith Ties EG Green’s Consecutive Games With A Catch Record
Senior receiver Rodney Smith’s second quarter reception gave him 38 consecutive games with a reception, tying E.G. Green’s Florida State record, set from 1994-97.
Williams Notches Career High
Senior linebacker Vince Williams tallied 2.0 tackles for loss in the first half, setting a new career high. His previous best was 1.5.

Final Stats

Florida State (11-2,7-1) vs. Georgia Tech (6-7,5-3)
Date: Dec 01, 2012 • Site: Charlotte, N.C. • Stadium: Bank of America Stdm
Attendance: 64778
Score by Quarters 1 2 3 4 Total
Florida State 7 14 0 0 21
Georgia Tech 0 6 3 6 15
Qtr Time Scoring Play V-H
1st 10:45 FS - FREEMAN, D. 3 yd run (HOPKINS, D. kick), 6-43 3:07 7 - 0
2nd 13:54 FS - WILDER, J. 16 yd run (HOPKINS, D. kick), 7-64 3:05 14 - 0
09:25 GT - Tanner, C. 27 yd field goal, 8-55 4:29 14 - 3
04:56 FS - WILDER, J. 1 yd run (HOPKINS, D. kick), 9-75 4:29 21 - 3
01:12 GT - Scully, D. 47 yd field goal, 9-36 3:37 21 - 6
3rd 01:08 GT - Tanner, C. 36 yd field goal, 13-61 5:09 21 - 9
4th 06:27 GT - Washington, T. 1 yd run (Washington, T. rush failed), 13-70 5:55 21 - 15
Kickoff time: 8:02 pm • End of Game: 11:13 pm • Total elapsed time: 3:11
Officials: Referee: Gary Patterson; Umpire: Tom Laverty; Linesman: Matt Fitzgerald;
Line judge: Colin Formulak; Back judge: Dale Shaw; Field judge: Mike Cullin


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