FINAL: Seminoles 31 - Tar Heels 28
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - For the first time since the end of the 2005 season, Florida State is facing a second-consecutive Top 5 opponent as the #5 North Carolina Tar Heels stroll into Doak Campbell Stadium for a primetime clash.
Saturday marks the third meeting between the two programs since the 2010 season and the Heels have won each of the previous two games: A 37-35 win in Tallahassee in 2010 and a 37-35 victory, again in Tallahassee, in 2016.
Despite their loss last week in South Bend against Notre Dame, FSU played maybe their most complete game against FBS level competition of the season and it was most evident in defending the pass.
Against ND, FSU allowed a season-best 201 yards through the air against the Irish’s Ian Book, and they’ll need an equally-stingy effort against former Florida-State commit Sam Howell and the Heels offense, who are averaging 259 yards in the air. Howell himself is averaging 9.4 yards per passing attempt.
As positive as the news is against the passing attack, the news is not so great against the rush: FSU continued to struggle stopping the run, allowing 350 yards on the ground last week and was unable to generate consistent pressure against Book.
If FSU garners a victory, it’ll be their first win against the Heels since 2009 and their first home victory over UNC since 2004.
Below will be a running log of the game, as in years past: We’ll have score updates, analysis, stray observations and thoughts. It will be fun. For up-to-the-minute updates and analysis, be sure you’re following myself and WCTV Sports on Twitter.
FINAL: FLORIDA STATE 31 - NORTH CAROLINA 28
Florida State didn’t score in the final 30 minutes of the game and it ultimately didn’t matter. On UNC’s last play of the game, a fourth down play, Howell targeted Javonte William, who had the ball and the yardage for a first down, but the he couldn’t follow the momentum of the football and dropped it.
Game. Over. Noles get their first ACC win of the season and their second win of the season.
FSU also garners their first win over UNC since 2009 and their first home win against the Tar Heels since 2004.
It also marks the first time the Seminoles have defeated a Top 5 team since they beat #5 Notre Dame 31-27 on October 18, 2014.
Our recap can be read here. Final stats from the evening can be seen below.
I’d be lying if I said I expected this performance, but this is 100% something the Noles can build on and getting to .500 next week against Louisville is far from out of the question. We’ll talk at ya next week, and throughout the week as we continue to look back on FSU’s first ACC win of the season.
4th Quarter, 4:58: 31-28 Florida State
And just like that, we have a three-point ballgame.
Howell drops a dime to Dyami Brown for his third touchdown pass of the game for a 25-yard score to bring the Heels within 31-28.
UNC goes 80 yards in seven plays in just 1:42. FSU is gonna need another long drive, and it’s not impossible to think it can happen with just one timeout left for the Tar Heels.
On the drive, Howell was good when he needed to be - he completed just two passes, but one was for 25 yards and the other was the 25-yard scoring play.
He now has 342 yards passing (19-32).
Brown is now the game’s leading receiver: He’s caught four balls for 56 yards.
4th Quarter, 6:40: 31-21 Florida State
Okay, you want the good news or the bad news first?
Good news. Sure.
The Seminoles go to full clock-kill mode: They took 6:59 off the clock, covering 53 yards on 11 plays (thanks in large part to Travis - who rushed for 27 yards on the drive) getting down to the UNC 20.
But, the bad news.
Ryan Fitzgerald misses his second field goal of the game (and of the half), and we are still in a 10-point game.
4th Quarter, 13:39: 31-21 Florida State
Crisis averted. For now.
The FSU defense forces a three-and-out and UNC misses a 44-yard field goal.
The Noles' lead remains 10 points and the offense could put some real pressure on, but need to show something, anything, in terms of second-half life.
END OF THE THIRD QUARTER: FLORIDA STATE 31 - NORTH CAROLINA 21
On the last play of the quarter, Jordan Travis is intercepted by Trey Morrison, who returns it to the FSU 27.
Something tells me this game is about to get very interesting.
FSU totaled just 85 yards in the quarter, only nine of which came on the ground. UNC made the Noles very one-dimensional. FSU also had two three-and-outs in the quarter.
3rd Quarter, 0:01: 31-21 Florida State
Well, we have ourselves a ball game.
Sam Howell and Beau Corrales connected for two completions, totalling 73 yards, on the drive, including a 33-yard touchdown connection to bring the Tar Heels within 10 points.
3rd Quarter, 4:07: 31-15 Florida State
For just the second time today, we have a drive starting in opposition territory and, for the first time, it’s the Heels who start in UNC territory.
UNC uses that short field to their advantage, as Howell throws his first touchdown pass of the day (on the run - look familiar?) finding Williams wide open across the middle of the field for a 38-yard touchdown and the first points of the second half.
3rd Quarter, 7:10: 31-7 Florida State
UNC matched FSU’s scoreless red zone trip with one of their own. The Heels march 74 yards in 10 plays but it came down to a fourth and three from the FSU six, and an incompletion in the endzone gives possession back to FSU.
On the drive, Williams eclipsed 109 yards rushing on the day.
3rd Quarter, 12:03: 31-7 Florida State
It looked like it was going to be the same verse as in the first half for the Seminoles, as FSU was set up at the UNC three yard line after a 54-yard rush by Webb, but a personal foul penalty backed the Noles up to the UNC 21 and Fitzgerald misses a 33-yard field goal and the Noles come away with no points in the red zone for the first time this evening.
HALFTIME: FLORIDA STATE 31 - NORTH CAROLINA 7
Florida State scores, again, with 17 seconds left in the half on Travis' first touchdown pass of the game, a 12-yard pass to an unguarded Camren McDonald in the end zone.
The Noles went 75 yards on just five plays in 45 seconds on a drive that was all Travis: He had two carries for 30 yards and went 2-3 passing for 45 yards.
Anyway, it’s halftime and I can’t think of a thing to complain about if you’re an FSU fan, outside of those two penalties to end the last drive.
How we look at the half.
2nd Quarter, 1:02: 24-7 Florida State
For the first time tonight, seemingly nothing went Florida State’s way; the Tar Heels march 75-yards on eight plays in 1:44, thanks in part to a targeting penalty and roughing the passer penalty, both of which came when the Heels were already in the red zone, and Javonte Williams added the exclamation point with a one-yard rush on his 14th carry of the ball game.
On the scoring drive, Howell was efficient; he attempted just three passes, but completed two of them, for 49 yards, as well as drawing both the targeting and roughing the passer penalties.
Williams was also efficient: Taking three rushes 33 yards, and having a six-yard loss be negated on the targeting play.
2nd Quarter, 2:46: 24-0 Florida State
In the game’s first turnover, Joshua Kaindoh turns an edge rush into a 25-yard pick-six and everything, and I do mean everything, is going right for the Seminoles of Florida State right now.
To add insult to injury for the Tar Heels, the play came after FSU called timeout ahead of a third down play in hopes of saving the clock to get the ball. Turns out, they didn’t need to worry about time on the clock.
2nd Quarter, 3:29: 17-0 Florida State
After not being able to convert when getting inside the red zone last drive, the Seminoles are able to do so here on Travis' second rushing touchdown of the game, this one from the one-yard line.
The score caps a nine-play, 75-yard march down the field by the Noles, helped by the first appearance of Jashaun Corbin (who took three rushes for 16 yards) and a 36-yard reception by Keyshawn Helton from Travis, to get the Noles to the UNC 12.
Just like the throw on the previous drive that nearly led to an Ontaria Wilson touchdown, Travis made this throw while on the run to avoid pressure from the Tar Heel front.
Things are going right in just about every way for the Seminoles, at the moment and it’s been a very, very long time since that could be said.
2nd Quarter, 12:59: 10-0 Florida State
That entire drive made up for the lack of, well anything, in the final 12 minutes of the first quarter.
It appeared as though Travis had connected with Ontaria Wilson for a 62-yard touchdown pass, but replay showed Wilson stepped out of bounds at the four.
A couple of plays later, it appeared La’Damian Webb had scored, but an illegal motion penalty negated that.
So, instead of a touchdown, the Seminoles are forced to settle for three and extend their lead to 10.
While definitely a bummer that they didn’t get seven more, they were able to go 91 yards in just under three minutes (and, really, went 91 yards in just under one minute, as the rest of the drive took place inside of the five).
Not an ideal sequence for FSU, but far from a momentum-swinging one.
END OF THE FIRST QUARTER: FLORIDA STATE 7 - NORTH CAROLINA 0
A pretty lackluster final 10 minutes of the quarter, but FSU looks really good. Bend don’t break is the motto on defense but the offense is continuing to find some footing.
However, the quarter did end on the biggest play from scrimmage of the day - for either team - as a designed fake Travis run opened up the middle of the field for Preston Daniel, who took it down to the FSU 43 from the shadow of their own endzone.
The numbers after the first 15:
1st Quarter, 10:14: 7-0 Florida State
FSU went three-and-out in their second offensive series of the game and then stood tall against UNC, despite some physical running from Javonte Williams and Howell, but forced a punt and blocked it (at least partially) again; this time it was Marvin Williams able to get a hand on it.
For those keeping track at home, that’s two punts for UNC and two blocks for FSU. They’re batting 1.000 so far.
The Noles' defense is picking up where it left off last week against the Irish and then some, having allowed just 47 rushing yards through three series. Still looking stout against the air attack (Howell has only completed two passes on five attempts for 18 yards).
1st Quarter, 12:47: 7-0 Florida State
Well on the first play from scrimmage following the blocked punt (and first play from scrimmage for FSU tonight), Travis takes the read-option himself and takes it to the house from 23-yards out.
Quite the start for the garnet and gold.
1st Quarter, 12:47: 0-0
Some early momentum for the Seminoles, who blocked a punt near midfield and returned to the UNC 24 after forcing the Heels to stall out following back-to-back nice rushes from Michael Carter, Jr. A strong defensive start for the Noles.
PREGAME & COIN TOSS
Happy Saturday everyone. Thanks for making our coverage part of your evening as FSU aims for their first ACC/P5 win of the season.
It’s yet another former would-be Nole in Doak this year - after opening the campaign against Jeff Sims, it’s Sam Howell who brings in a top-five Tar Heel squad into Tallahassee.
The Noles won the coin toss and deferred, so we’ll see Howell early.
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