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Florida State beats Syracuse 38-20

FSU controlled the game throughout against Syracuse, but could never blow it open, winning 38-20.

Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Florida State wasted no time in getting things kicked off against Syracuse. On the first drive of the game, Florida State marched 70 yards on 8 plays, capped by a 13-yard Mario Pender touchdown run. Jameis Winston was 5-5 for 38 yards on the drive.

On the ensuing drive, Florida State's defense appeared to be tentative early on, and missed an interception as Syracuse drove 55 yards on 10 plays, but when given his chance a few plays later, sophomore defensive back Jalen Ramsey did not miss his chance, intercepting Syracuse and setting Florida State up with good field position.

FSU then marched 49 yards on 11 plays, fighting some pass protection issues that looked to be related to assignment problems. Roberto Aguayo kicked the field goal to extend the lead to 10-0.

Syracuse did wake up, however, after switching out its quarterback, and drove 76 yards on 11 plays, including a desperation heave on third down that was good for 36 yards up the sideline. The pass may have been out of bounds, but Syracuse quickly snapped the football on the next play and it was not reviewed. FSU's defense held, however, and forced the field goal.

Syracuse then booted the ensuing kickoff out of bounds, giving FSU great starting field position at the 35 yard line. After Syrcause dropped an interception of its own on the first play, Florida State quickly moved down the field, 65 yards in 6 plays, capped by a passing touchdown to Mario Pender. The highlight play of the drive was a 44-yard tunnel screen to Rashad Greene -- a play FSU has run extremely well this year ever since changing up the way it blocks the play. This was a play that FSU had struggled with from 2007-13.

The ensuing Syracuse drive went nowhere thanks to a combination of a dropped pass and some good pursuit by the defense, but FSU did fair catch a punt again deep in its own territory, giving the offense poor field position.

But Pender, who was having a great day, fumbled and Syracuse recovered at the Florida State 16. But the defense held, getting a crucial batted pass on third down, and held Syracuse to a field goal, cutting the lead to 17-6.

Florida State responded immediately with a six-play, 75-yard drive for a touchdown, capped by a pass to Nick O'Leary.

Syracuse responded on its next drive, however, with a fantastic one-handed catch for 41 yards, the second excellent deep catch of the half for the Orange. The receiver did employ an savvy armbar move, rarely called by officials, and indeed not this time. But FSU's defense again held in the red zone, and Syracuse went for the touchdown on 4th down, trying to throw a fade route from the six against P.J. Williams, which was incomplete.

Leading 24-6, and burning its only timeout on first down, Florida State ran the football to run out the clock instead of trying to extend the lead.

Jameis Winston was 16-19 in the first half, for 181 yards, with two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Second half

Florida State forced a three-and-out on the first possession of the half, and then drove 79 yards on 11 plays for a touchdown to extend the lead to 31-6. On the day, Rashad Greene became FSU's all-time leader in receptions.

But Syracuse didn't give up, driving 66 yards on five plays for a touchdown to cut the lead to 31-13.

The teams then traded punts, but Florida State's Jesus Wilson fumbled the punt. On the first play of the ensuing Syracuse drive, however, Nate Andrews intercepted, and FSU took over on its own 8.

Florida State proceeded to drive 92 yards on 10 plays, capped by a touchdown run by freshman Dalvin Cook to go u 38-13.

But Syracuse came back to cut the lead to 38-20 with an 8-play, 75 yard drive ending in a 35-yard touchdown catch.

After a Florida State punt, Mario Edwards, Jr. hit the syracuse quarterback to force a very errant throw, which was intercepted by Tyler Hunter, ending the final drive for Syracuse.

On the day, Jameis Winston was 30-36 for 317 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Dalvin Cook, in relief of an injured Mario Pender, had 23 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown.

Florida State has now won 22 consecutive games and is bowl eligible for the 33rd consecutive season.

Up next for FSU is Notre Dame on October 18.