Seminoles blow through Hurricanes 33-20

By Eric Fisher

FSView & Florida Flambeau, Florida State U. via UWIRE

Seminoles blow through Hurricanes 33-20

It certainly wasn’t the prettiest of performances, but Florida State remains the king of the sunshine state for now, as the Seminoles overcame a turnover and penalty-laden night in South Florida to come away with a 33-20 victory over Miami that extended Florida State’s streak of perfection against in-state opponents to 1,057 days.

The Seminoles lost two fumbles early on that turned into a quick 10-0 lead for Miami and also had to overcome the loss of offensive focal point Chris Thompson, who left in the first half with what appeared to be a knee injury.

However, after Thompson’s departure, fellow running backs James Wilder, Jr. and Devonta Freeman picked up the slack, each finding the endzone to help Florida State recover from the early deficit. Wilder punched in the first Seminole touchdown of the evening on a 17-yard run early in the second quarter to tie the game at 10, and Freeman scored on four and five yard touchdown plunges in the fourth quarter as part of a run that saw Florida State outscore Miami 33-3 before the Hurricanes scored a touchdown in the game’s final minute to cut the final score back to 33-20.

The Seminoles’ defense found itself in two difficult spots in the game’s opening quarter after a fumble by Nick O’Leary on Florida State’s first drive set the Hurricanes up on the doorstep of the red zone and a shanked punt by Cason Beatty that netted just 17 yards set Miami up at the Florida State 34 after the Seminoles’ second possession. The generous field position helped the Hurricanes snag the 10-0 lead and brought the Sun Life Stadium crowd into the game early.

But after those initial scores, the Miami offense found success difficult to come by the rest of the night as the typically stout Florida State defense dug in. Miami ended up totaling just 253 yards on the night at a clip of 3.9 yards per play, lowlighted by a futile ground game that chalked up just 26 yards.

The Seminoles also compensated for their offensive errors by creating two turnovers of their own as Telvin Smith forced a fumble from Miami quarterback Stephen Morris that was scooped up by Christian Jones in the first quarter and Tyler Hunter stepped in front of a slant route and intercepted Morris to kill a Hurricane drive near the Florida State red zone in the second quarter.

The smothering performance for defensive coordinator Mark Stoops’ unit was also bolstered by another strong night by the Seminoles’ stable of pass rushing defensive ends. Starters Bjoern Werner and Tank Carradine each got to Morris for sacks, while freshman Mario Edwards found his way into the sack column for the first time in his career, splitting a sack of Morris with Werner. All in all, Florida State recorded four sacks for 30 yards.

Penalties also continued to be a topic of largely unpleasant discussion for Florida State, as the Seminoles were flagged 12 times for a total of 121 lost yards, while the Hurricanes drew only four flags for 25 yards. Some of the calls were controversial, including a questionable offensive pass interference call on receiver Kelvin Benjamin that negated a touchdown catch from EJ Manuel.

Fisher is now 3-0 against Miami and 5-0 against archrivals Miami and Florida, and the win also made Florida State bowl eligible for the 31st straight season, the longest running streak in the nation. The win also completed an impressive career circuit for EJ Manuel, who has now won games in Jacksonville, Gainesville, Miami, Tampa, Orlando, and Tallahassee as a starting quarterback for Florida State.

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