Seminoles offense quiet in second half, Yellow Jackets complete comeback in 16-13 win
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - The Florida State Seminoles scored the first 10 points of the game, but the offense fell silent in the second half as the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets came from behind to win, 16-13, Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Seminoles have now dropped four straight season openers.
HOW IT HAPPENED
The final blow from Tech came with 8:56 left in the fourth quarter, when Yellow Jackets kicker Jude Kelley punched through a 32-yard field goal, giving Tech their first lead of the game at 16-13.
Georgia Tech set the go-ahead score up by strip-sacking James Blackman in FSU territory and returning the ball to the Noles' 11.
FSU’s defense, as it did multiple times throughout the day, stood tall but couldn’t keep the Jackets off the scoreboard.
It was a fast start to the day for the Noles. Asante Samuel intercepted GT quarterback Jeff Sims on the opening drive as the Jackets were moving the ball well and it turned into seven points for Florida State, following a three-yard touchdown pass from Blackman to Keyshawn Helton, to put the Noles up 7-0.
FSU added to their lead off the foot of Parker Grothaus with a 37-yard field goal inside the final two minutes of the first quarter to make for a 10-0 lead.
Georgia Tech was kept off the scoreboard until the 6:13 mark of the third quarter, when Jordan Mason scored on a 19-yard touchdown rush to make it 10-7.
FSU extended their lead to 13-7 after Grothaus' second field goal of the day with 1:04 remaining in the third quarter, but the Jackets were quick to tie, doing so on the ensuing possession on a beautifly thrown pass from Sims to Malachi Carter in the corner of the endzone.
A blocked extra point attempt, the Noles third blocked field goal on the evening, kept the game tied at 13-13.
FSU had two chances inside the final three minutes to tie or put the go-ahead points on the board, but those chances ended when Blackman couldn’t get to the first-down marker on a fourth-down near midfield and on an underthrown ball from Blackman to Terry, also on fourth down, to turn the ball over and seal the GT victory.
Unlike throughout most of last season, Blackman had time in the pocket to make throws, but he either didn’t like the coverage he was seeing down field and decided to run, forced the issue and threw an interception or had balls bounce off receivers hands. He completed the day with a 53.4% completion percentage.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN?
Former Seminole commit Jeff Sims posted a strong debut as a true freshman, finishing with 277 passing yards (24-for-35) with a touchdown and two interceptions, along with 13 rushes for 64 yards (a game best).
While it’s impossible to know for certain, and very unlikely, that Sims would have unseated Blackman this year, you still have to think some FSU fans watched with a feeling of “what could have been" if he had kept his commitment.
This isn’t to say the future isn’t bright at FSU in it’s own right: Blackman has made tremendous strides since taking over for Deondre Francois, and even from last year to this first game of the season, and there’s plenty to be excited about with Chubba Purdy and Tate Rodemaker. But, much like when the Noles see what UNC and Sam Howell are up to, the Tech career of Sims may be watched closer than most.
If there’s a silver lining for FSU fans, it’s this very well may be the last time the Noles see Sims in a Jackets jersey, with how the schedule aligns.
Entering today, one of the biggest question marks regarding this FSU team was who would step up to replace Cam Akers in the backfield. And, while we may not have gotten a definitive answer to that, we did get a little bit of clarity when each option would be used.
La’Damian Webb was used as the power back and it’s easy to see why; he’s a hard runner that doesn’t need a lot of time to accelerate and isn’t afraid to welcome contact.
Jashaun Corbin is the passing-down back extraordinaire and, similar to Webb, doesn’t need a ton of space to make something happen, but he happened to find himself in open areas of the field when he had the ball, mostly on screens or dump offs.
To further that point, Corbin led all players in receptions, with eight, logging 55 total yards through the air.
It’s very possible - and even likely - with two backs with such a different skill set that we see the committee all season long.
FSU returns to action on September 26 at Miami. A kickoff time has not been announced.
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