Florida State has become bowl eligible once again, improving to 6-3 (3-3) following a 24-20 victory over NC State (4-5, 1-4) in Raleigh.
Florida State did not take long to make an impact once the game was started when Tarvarus McFadden intercepted his NCAA leading seventh pass of the season, giving FSU the ball deep in its own territory.
However, just as the rest of the first quarter, FSU’s offense went nowhere. Through first quarters against Power 5 opponents, the ‘Noles have yet to score a touchdown and only average 79.4 yards and 4.92 yards per play.
NC State jumped out to a 7-0 lead after a 28-yard pass for the only points of the quarter as it excelled on third down chances, going 3-4 in the opening quarter.
Once again, both teams were not moving the ball well offensively, as NC State had to settle for three points after a 31-yarder was missed earlier in the frame.
The ‘Noles converted a 32-yard field goal, and with a 75-yard drive on its last trip down the field, were able to match NCSU’s 10 points.
Before the half concluded, NC State ran down the field and converted a 39-yard field goal reclaiming a slim 13-10 lead heading into the locker rooms.
Deondre Francois’ first half struggles continued, going 7-17 for 102 yards, bringing his first half completion percentage over the past five games to 48%.
Just when Florida State was gaining momentum to begin the half, its opening drive was cut short by an Auden Tate fumble, which fortunately led to a three-and-out.
With three minutes left in the third, NCSU doubled its lead to 20-10 on a 23-yard touchdown rush, capping a 95-yard drive. The defense, still struggling, allowed those 95 yards on just nine plays.
The ‘Noles would continue its climb from behind, scoring six points, cutting the deficit to three, after Dalvin Cook ran into the end zone from 10-yards out on its very next drive. Cook had been kept in check even after scoring, averaging 3.6 yards per carry through three quarters.
Three combined punts later, Florida State seized its opportunity to take the lead late in the game. The ‘Noles drove 83-yards down the field with Deondre Francois throwing off his back foot to an open Travis Rudolph to give FSU its first lead of the game, 24-20 with just 3:09 remaining.
NC State would not go down without a fight, and would be aided by a targeting call from freshman defensive end Brian Burns. The Wolfpack would get all the way down to the FSU 26-yard line, and on fourth down, were unable to convert, handing to ball over to FSU who would immediately go into victory formation.
After that shaky first half, Francois settled in, finishing the night 22 for 39 with 330 yards. Dalvin Cook added 65 yards and 1 touchdowns on the ground while Nyqwan Murray led the team in receiving yards for the second consecutive game with 153 yards.
Defensively, the unit conceded over 450 yards of offense to NCSU, allowing 5.7 yards per play. In particular, the FSU defense struggled mightily defending the third down, allowing the Wolfpack to convert on 8 of 16 third down chances. Ermon Lane led the unit with 10 tackles while DeMarcus Walker added both of the team’s sacks and 10 total tackles as well.
Florida State turns around for a short week as the team will welcome Boston College to Tallahassee on Friday night.