After taking a 27-7 lead early in the third quarter on Saturday, everything was looking great for the Florida State Seminoles. Then, the wheels fell off and 21 unanswered points by the Miami (FL)Hurricanes snapped a long winning streak in Miami Gardens, Florida dating back to 2004.
The Seminoles had a few opportunities in the second half to add points, but a tough illegal forward pass call on a touchdown and a missed field goal led to the 28-27 loss to the Hurricanes at Hard Rock Stadium.
Perhaps the biggest play of the game, on what seemed like a good trick play, FSU quarterback Deondre Francois passed the ball to D.J. Matthews, who then threw the ball for a 45-yard touchdown. However, the refs ruled the pass from Francois to Matthews was a forward pass and took away the score.
After the penalty, the drive would eventually end with a missed 43-yard field goal attempt by kicker Ricky Aguayo.
But the game wasn’t just lost on one close penalty call. It was lost all over the field and in all three phases. For over two and a half quarters, Florida State controlled all three phases.
With 11 minutes, 52 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Matthews returned a punt 74 yards for a touchdown, but those would be the last points they scored the rest of the way.
The tipping point would come on the Seminoles’ next offensive drive, when Francois was sacked by Sheldrick Redwine and fumbled the ball, which led to a Miami touchdown.
Francois threw an interception on the drive after that on a screen pass to Tre’ McKitty. That turnover would also result in another Miami touchdown to make it a one-score game.
Not only did turnovers hurt the ‘Noles in the second half, but the inability to move the ball did as well. After halftime, Florida State only picked up 40 yards on offense.
But it’s not like the offense was humming throughout the game. With just 200 yards on the night, they were just lucky they had great starting field position for much of the first half.
In the first half, FSU’s averaged starting their drives at the 40-yard line with a few beginning in Miami territory. During the second half, their average starting position was at the 24.5 yard line.
Special teams struggled as well after the punt return by Matthews. On top of the missed field goal by Aguayo, they allowed a few big punt returns to Miami’s Jeff Thomas and Deejay Dallas to give the Hurricanes great starting field position.
When it comes down to it, the offense struggled to consistently move the ball while the defensive backs definitely looked young. A positive is the defensive front controlled the line of scrimmage against a team ranked in the Top 30 in the country in rushing heading into the contest.
Entering this game, Miami averaged over 200 yards per game, but were limited to just 102 yards on 46 attempted (2.2 per carry).
But the same issues continue to plague this team. Francois rarely has time in the pocket. The running backs are getting hit in the backfield or can only muster minimal gains.
Francois finished with only 129 yards on 15-for-30 passing with two touchdowns and one interception. One of the big issues with this is the fact that many of those yards were on plays thrown behind the line of scrimmage. When it came to throwing the ball downfield, there was almost no success.
The rushing game was no better. Cam Akers led the team with 46 yards on 11 carries while Jacques Patrick carried the ball 10 times for just 31 yards.
The defensive line did make a lot of plays throughout the game, though. Brian Burns and Marvin Wilson each had two sacks to lead the team.
A loss to Miami is always tough to swallow, but it almost becomes unbearable when it comes after leading by 20 points during the third quarter.
The Seminoles now have two weeks to regroup before hosting Wake Forest on October 20. With half the season gone and four of the six remaining opponents currently ranked, the game against the Demon Deacons is a must win if there is hope of being bowl eligible at the end of the season.