Coming into Saturday’s game between 13th-ranked Miami and Florida State, both teams were looking to get their running games going. The Seminoles did have their best rushing game of the year, but it was not enough to keep the Hurricanes from earning a last-second 24-20 victory, breaking a 7-game losing streak against Florida State.
FSU piled up 203 yards on the ground with Cam Akers and Jacques Patrick running behind a much-maligned offensive line against a very good Miami run defense. Coming into the game, the Seminoles offense had accumulated 293 yards through three games.
Once again, Florida State’s inability to score touchdowns – or any points – after venturing well into enemy territory, made it difficult to win. In the first half, they played in Miami territory on four possessions, including one in the red zone, yet could only manage one field goal for a 3-0 halftime lead.
“We had some opportunities in the first half on offense,” said FSU coach Jimbo Fisher. “But you play good teams, that happens. We battled.”
The Seminoles’ defense was stifling early on. In the first half, the Hurricanes got no further than their own 44-yard line.
The FSU defense was playing so well, Miami’s longest “drive” in that first half was only 28 yards. Half of their six possessions were three-and-outs.
The second half was a totally different story. Miami quarterback Malik Rosier led his team on a 12-play, 62-yard drive that resulted in the tying field goal on their first possession. FSU ran only 11 plays in the third period, which ended with Miami up 10-3.
Both defenses were unable to stop each other during a wild-and-wacky fourth period that saw the teams combine for 31 points, 18 more than the first three quarters. The lead changed hands four times, the last coming with the game winning, 23-yard TD pass from Rosier to Darrell Langham.
For a brief period of time, it appeared that FSU’s freshman quarterback James Blackman had again teamed with Auden Tate for a game-winning TD. The pair hooked up for a 20-yard score with only 1:24 left to give the Seminoles their final lead at 20-17.
While the FSU defense was so good in the first half, they had no answers for Rosier and his corps of receivers late in the game.
After falling behind 13-10, Miami went on a 6-play, 75-yard drive in just 1:46 to regain the lead. After Blackman and Tate hooked up, Rosier was again up to the task.
He drove Miami 75 yards again, this time in only 1:18, connecting with Langham with only 6 seconds remaining. A key play was a third-and-10 conversion from Rosier to Braxton Berrios that took the ball to the FSU 23, setting up the game-winning play.
“They’re a good team, we’re a good team,” Fisher said. “They made one more play. We got to find ways to do that.”
Barrios had a career day. The 5-foot, 9-inch senior hauled in 8 passed for 90 yards and two touchdowns. Coming into the season, he had a grand total of 5 career touchdowns.
Rosier completed only 19 of his 44 passes, but was dynamite in the fourth quarter, winding up with 254 yards. The ‘Canes had only 83 yards on the ground, partly due to a banged-up Mark Walton, but the passing game more than made up for it.
Despite two interceptions, Blackman showed some poise while frequently under fire from the Miami pass rush. He completed 17 of 28 passes for 203 yards and two fourth quarter TD passes.
Akers rushed for 121 yards on 20 carries, while Patrick tallied 91 on 11 carries.
With the loss, FSU falls to 1-2 in the ACC and 1-3 overall. Miami improves to 4-0 and 2-0 in the ACC.
Florida State travels to Duke next Saturday, while Miami hosts Georgia Tech.