In a back-and-forth affair, it was Clemson who ended up on top by a score of 37-34 after Florida State’s last comeback attempt fell short.
Following its third consecutive coin toss win, Florida State squibbed the ball off to Clemson who immediately made its presence. Paired with a third and fourth down conversion, the Tigers’ drive ended up in the first seven points of the game.
Florida State countered with a drive of its own, and were rolling until a personal foul penalty and sack set FSU up on second and 20. Kermit Whitfield executed a screen for the first down, which would prove irrelevant as Fisher would bypass a 54-yard field goal attempt for a punt.
Before the opening quarter came to a close, Clemson would go 80-yards on ten plays to take a 14-0 lead on a Florida State defense that looked lost.
Momentum swung FSU’s direction after an interception from Marquez White ended a Clemson drive inside Florida State territory. The ‘Noles would rumble 60-yards down the field on six plays, ending with a Dalvin Cook touchdown with eight minutes remaining in the half. The running back fumbled on the prior carry, however, Rod Johnson was fortunate to recover for FSU.
After holding Clemson to a chip-shot field goal, the ‘Noles got the ball back with less than two minutes down by 10, looking for a score before the half. QB Deondre Francois put together a well executed drive, throwing for 68 yards on 3-3 passing, ending in Nyqwan Murray’s first career touchdown. Going into the half, down three and receiving the ball on the other end of the break, FSU was right back in the thick of things.
The ‘Noles were unable to capitalize on its first drive of the new half, handing Clemson the ball inside its own five after the punt. Clemson drove down the field, this time for 78 yards, and managed a field goal to pull ahead 20-14.
Clemson would then get the ball back after a failed FSU drive, however Deshaun Watson threw an interception to Tarvarus McFadden his sixth of the season. On the very first play from the Clemson 43-yard line, Dalvin Cook ran to the screaming fans in the students section, giving FSU its first lead of the game with 6:18 left, 21-20.
When Florida State reclaimed the ball, Dalvin Cook once again showed his true colors, exploding for a 70-yard touchdown run, sending Doak Campbell into a frenzy while putting FSU up 28-20 at the end of the third.
Clemson would fight right back through a Florida State defense that was now missing Trey Marshall due to a targeting call, and score a touchdown of its own. However, the two-point conversion was unsuccessful, and Florida State held a slim 28-26 lead.
On another long run by Dalvin Cook, 50-yards to be exact, there was a questionable call from the officiating crew, negating the run and tacking another 15 yards on after Fisher was called for unsportsmanlike conduct. FSU would punt.
That would prove costly as Clemson would hit a go-ahead 46-yard field goal, giving the Tigers’ a 29-28 lead with 5:25 left.
The comeback attempt would be made much more difficult when Deondre Francois went down after throwing a pass, withering on the floor in pain.
He would leave the field while Sean Maguire entered the field. A 38 yard Freddie Stevenson run later, Francois would re-enter, and hand off the ball to Dalvin Cook scored his fourth touchdown of the game. An unsuccessful two point conversion would keep the FSU lead at five.
As if watching a mirror, the Clemson offense ran five plays for 75 yards, scoring a touchdown with 2:06 left. The two point conversion was good, and the Tigers’ led 37-34.
Deondre Francois, a red-shirt freshman on paper, showed tremendous poise in the first plays of Florida State’s final drive down the field. After a successful 3rd and 23, the ‘Noles committed two straight false starts, reversing its progression. On another long third down, Francois went back to that redshirt freshman title, taking a costly sack, setting FSU up for 4th and 32 on FSU’s final attempt. Again, Francois would go down, turning it over with 18 seconds and giving Clemson a three point win.
Cook, for the second consecutive year, saw success against Clemson, rushing for 19 yards on 169 attempts. QB Deondre Francois threw 17-35 with 286 yards and one touchdown. Receiver Nyqwan Murray led the team with 96 receiving yards and a touchdown on six catches.
On defense, Trey Marshall led the unit with 11 tackles while Derrick Nnadi added eight tackles, two for loss, a sack and a pass breakup. DeMarcus Walker added 10 tackles and two pass breakups.
Next week, Florida State travels to North Carolina with a matchup against the NC State Wolfpack.