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Clemson holds off FSU to win a classic football game over Seminoles

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At the end of a highlight show, the Clemson Tigers’ kept their dreams of reaching the national playoffs alive.

The third-ranked Tigers scored the final points of the game to take a breathless 37-34 victory over FSU Saturday night.

Clemson scored with 77 seconds left to play on a 34-yard pass from Deshaun Watson to Jordan Leggett. The Seminoles moved to the Tigers’ 34 yard-line with 34 seconds left to play, but two penalties and two sacks of quarterback Deondre Francois kept Clemson ahead.

FSU coach Jimbo Fisher was irritated at the officials, especially when it came to a chop block that called back a 50-yard touchdown by Cook.

“It was ridiculous,” Fisher said. “It was not a chop, it was not a chop. I will tell you what, you hold coaches accountable, you hold players accountable, hold the damn officials accountable. It is garbage and then to call another penalty on the sideline is even more garbage. Its cowardly, gutless and wrong. They can fine it or do whatever they want to do with it. That is a fact, look at the film. It is ridiculous that they do that. That was a huge call in the game. We still had chances in the game to win after that, but it is ridiculous.”

Fisher didn’t agree with a targeting call against Trey Marshall, either.

“I didn’t think it was targeting,” he said. “I still don’t. I don’t think he led. He hit him with the side of his helmet. I don’t think he hit with his crown. They review that, but they don’t review Deondre (Francois) who is being exposed on a two-step deal and they won’t call that. Whoever is in the booth is bad too.”

In all, FSU had 13 penalties for 111 yards.

“You’ll never get in a rhythm as a team if you have penalties and yardage like that,” Cook said. “We’ve got to clean those things up as a team and especially as an offense. If we want to attain the goals and be the offense we want to be, we have to clean those things up. We can’t have those self-inflicted wounds. That will get a drive stopped.”

The Tigers took a 14-0 lead in the first quarter. But FSU shaved the lead to three points by halftime, part of it on one of Dalvin Cook’s four touchdowns on the day.

The Seminoles led 28-20 after three periods, but couldn’t hold the lead. The Tigers outscored FSU 17-6 in the final period.

For Clemson, Watson threw for 378 yards against the FSU secondary. For FSU, Francois threw for 286 yards and Cook ran for 169 yards. Sophomore Nyqwan Murray caught six passes for 96 yards to lead FSU.

The Tigers’ Leggett caught five passes for 122 yards.

FSU entered the game ranked 12th in the country, but with their third loss, they could tumble. FSU plays at N.C. State Saturday.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit

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