For the fourth consecutive season, the Florida State Seminoles defeated the Florida Gators by a final score of 31-13. It also marks a stretch of six FSU victories in the past seven years.
On the opening drive of the game, Florida took advantage of FSU’s eagerness, getting inside Seminole territory just two plays in. However, the ‘Noles defense took over inside the redzone. Florida, with the ball seven yards shy of the endzone on first down, could not convert on four straight plays, handing the ball to Deondre Francois deep in Seminoles territory.
Behind Dalvin Cook’s 36 total yards on the first drive, FSU could not cash in when a 49-yard Ricky Aguayo field goal fell well short. He was seen in the injury tent shortly after.
Josh Sweat, flying in on a designed pass, sacked and forced a fumble which was recovered by DeMarcus Walker. Florida State got the ball back just outside the red zone, and Dalvin Cook ran it in from 17 yards out for the score. It was his 45th career touchdown, putting him in the Florida State football record book once again for most rushing touchdowns in a career
UF didn’t fumble the ball, but did not record a first down either on the ensuing possession. Behind the strength of —- you guessed it —- Dalvin Cook, who had 35 of his 96 first half rushing yards on the drive, Florida State got into field goal range for Ricky Aguayo who made his only field goal on three attempts in the first half.
The Gators finally got on the board with a 38-yard field goal from Eddy Pineiro in the second quarter, and with one kick, UF had more points than it had during the 2015 matchup.
With a first half average of 36.4 yards per drive, the ‘Noles set itself up for some scoring opportunities, but the Ricky Aguayo struggles continued as the true freshman saw a 49-yarder fall short and a 44-yard attempt get block. Despite that, the FSU defense held UF to 3.6 first half yards per play and entered the half with a 10-3 lead.
Deondre Francois gave Florida its first offensive threat when the quarterback threw an interception nowhere near anyone in garnet. UF took over on its 27-yard line and put up three more points, cutting an already slim FSU lead to 10-6.
On a third down and 10, Deondre Francois threw a strike to Travis Rudolph, who nearly septupled his receiving yards prior to that play, and ran to the end zone for a 46-yard touchdown. Logan Tyler was on, and converted the extra point. Aguayo, who had those two low field goals that missed, was also seen in the medical tent earlier in the first half. Aguayo would not return to the game.
The ‘Noles then received reinforcement from an unlikely source, fullback Freddie Stevenson, who ran in from 28-yard out for a touchdown. It would put FSU up 24-6 late.
The FSU defense, as it had all game long, stopped Austin Appleby and forced a UF punt. On the ensuing return, Nyqwan Murray fumbled the ball and with UF returning the loose ball for a score. It was the first UF touchdown in 10 quarters.
After punting back to UF for just the third time on the night, UF got one first down before giving the ball right back to FSU with 6:13 left in the game.
The Florida State offense would not hold the ball for long as Florida DB Teez Tabor forced, and recovered a fumble from QB Deondre Francois on a scramble. The play was reviewed for targeting, however the call would stand.
Florida, three plays into its last-ditch effort, would fumble it right back to FSU with DeMarcus Walker, once again, recovering the fumble. He finished the day with five tackles, two sacks, a QBH and two fumble recoveries.
Deondre Francois would scramble into the endzone for the final time, giving Florida State a 31-13 lead, which would be the final score as UF could not score on its ensuing drive.
After a slow start, Francois got into groove starting with that third quarter Rudolph touchdown pass. He ended the game 15-26 for 136 yards, one touchdowns and one interceptions. Dalvin Cook continued his reputation against schools in the state of Florida, adding 153 yards on the ground in what will most likely be his last game in Doak. Travis Rudolph led all receivers with 63 yards and a touchdown.
Defensively, Florida eclipsed the 150-yard mark in the final moments of the third quarter and finished the day with just 207 total yards. Freshman Brian Burns continued his dominant season, adding 1.5 sacks with Josh Sweat sacking Appleby 1.5 times along with that huge forced fumble. He and Ro’Derrick Hoskins led the unit with six tackles each.
With the regular season now complete, the 9-3 ‘Noles will wait to see where it will be playing its bowl game, which could be impacted with Kentucky’s upset victory over Louisville early on Saturday.