Florida State score vs. Florida takeaway: No. 16' Noles outlasts Gators in highest-scoring game of rivalry

Florida State score vs. Florida takeaway: No. 16′ Noles outlasts Gators in highest-scoring game of rivalry

No. 16 Florida State ended a three-game losing streak against rival Florida on Friday night with a dramatic 45-38 victory behind quarterback Jordan Travis and a late defensive position in the final minute. Match. Travis made big plays in the air and on the ground all night, while the Seminoles defense pulled off a fourth save in the final minute as the crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium reached fever pitch.

Gators QB Anthony Richardson’s heave to the end zone went incomplete with 39 seconds left, flipping the ball to Florida State on the downs and ending the most scoring game in the history of the rivalry. What will be discussed for ages are two plays on the last drive, a fourth and 18-pass interference called against FSU that extended Florida’s comeback attempt, and a clear face mask on Richardson who didn’t. was called on the aforementioned incomplete pass.

Richardson threw for three touchdowns in the first 21 minutes as the Gators took a 21-14 lead, but the redshirt second then went cold with 11 straight misses. The third quarter proved particularly important as Florida State forced three straight three-and-outs against a Florida team that didn’t punt in the first half.

The victory marks the first of the rivalry for third-year Florida State coach Mike Norvell, and he has Travis to thank for it. The redshirt junior threw for 270 yards and a touchdown and ran for 83 more yards and two more scores. Running back Trey Benson added three runs on the ground for the ‘Noles, who improved to 9-3 with the win.

Travis goes wild

In a game filled with dynamic swings and highlight plays, Travis’ elusive run stood out a few times. With the Seminoles trailing 21-14 and facing a third-and-10 from Florida’s 11-yard line in the second quarter, it looked like Florida was poised to sack Travis for a big loss. But as Travis retreated 18 yards behind the line of scrimmage, he managed to evade five different Florida defenders, including a couple who had more than a chance of taking him down. He finally slipped just before the end zone and scored on the next play.

Then, in the third quarter, Travis replicated the play in an almost identical situation. Facing a third-and-11 from Florida’s 13-yard line, Travis took off and dodged several tacklers before sliding just short of the goal line. The play gave the Seminoles a first-and-a-goal and set up a Benson touchdown run that put FSU ahead 31-24.

While Travis completed just 13 of 30 passes, he also got it with his arm in a key late situation. Facing a third-and-6 with the game tied at 38 in the fourth quarter, Travis found Johnny Wilson for a 21-yard completion to extend the drive that allowed FSU’s game-winning score.

Closing in the blink of an eye

Florida State started 4-0 and moved up to 23rd in the AP Top 25 in the process. Then came adversity. Amid a poor run with injuries, the ‘Noles fell three straight as the pressure began to mount on Norvell. After back-to-back losing seasons to start his tenure, it appeared they might struggle to bowl in his third year. But since the bye week, which came after a 34-28 loss to Clemson on Oct. 15, the ‘Noles are a perfect 5-0.

While some of that success has corresponded to a loosening of the schedule, much of it has come in mainstream fashion. On Friday, FSU’s four-game winning streak included four wins of 25 or more points. As the race for dominance ended in a close game against the Gators, the Seminoles showed their improvement in a national showcase against a bitter rival. With a bowl win, Florida State can finish with 10 wins for the first time since 2016, which was Jimbo Fisher’s penultimate year as coach.

Missing receivers

Florida wide receivers Ja’Quavion Fraziars, Xzavier Henderson, Justin Shorter, Thai Chiaokhiao-Bowman and Marcus Burke all missed the game due to injury, leaving Richardson with few proven targets in the passing game. In their absence, Richardson only made three-handed passes with a returning Ricky Pearsall serving as the primary target. The redshirt junior set a new career high for yards received when he passed for a 43-yard touchdown pass with 11:35 left in the second quarter. It was Richardson’s final completion until there were 4 minutes left in the game.

Nonetheless, the Gators still managed to pull themselves together from a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit behind a solid running offense. Trevor Etienne had 129 yards and a touchdown on 17 carries, including a 45-yard touchdown that tied the game with 7:41 left. Montrel Johnson Jr. added 85 yards and a rushing score, while Richardson rushed for 41 yards. If the Gators are able to get healthier at receiver for their bowling game, their offense could be a lot less one-dimensional than it was for most of Friday’s game.

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