It had been over 330 days since Florida State (3-5) last won a home game until its victory over Syracuse (4-5) on Saturday, 27-24.
Florida State’s first half can be summed up by the saying, “Go big or go home.” After only having one play go for more than 50 yards in its first seven games, the ’Noles had three alone in the first half vs. Syracuse. All three of those plays were touchdowns.
On the first Florida State drive, James Blackman connected with Nyqwan Murray for a well thrown 51-yard touchdown pass. The next two scores were on the ground courtesy of Cam Akers from 54 and 63 yards out. The true freshman already had a career high 159 rushing yards at the break.
The 21 points put up by FSU was the largest amount in any half of any game this season. Other than touchdowns, Florida State did not gain much traction offensively in the opening half. In the 23 other plays run in the opening half, FSU was averaging just 1.8 yards per play.
Syracuse was without starting QB Eric Dungey for the full first and part of the second quarters as he was nursing an ankle injury that was noticeable on the first Orange drive.
Its two scores were also a considerable distance from the end zone. The first was a busted coverage by the FSU defense that allowed a wide open Jamal Custis who caught the Eric Dungey thrown ball, and ran toward the end zone. The other was as a result of Tarvarus McFadden getting beat by ’Cuse standout Steve Ishmael.
The teams traded field goals in the third quarter to make it a 24-17 score in favor of FSU with just 15 minutes remaining.
The Seminoles forced a big turnover on downs on the first Syracuse drive of the fourth quarter, getting the ball back at midfield. However, FSU would punt just three plays and a mere 58 seconds left. Syracuse was getting every chance possible to tie up the game.
With the Orange unable to execute a drive on offense, the Seminoles finally made it a two possession game with a 38-yard field goal that made it a 27-17 game.
Syracuse was not going down easy, and cut the lead to three at 27-24 with just 2:55 left. Dungey led the offense 75 yards in 14 plays and converted three third down conversions on the way.
On a third and a foot, with FSU already 1-12 in those situations up to that point, the exchange to Blackman was fumbled, and it was ruled Syracuse ball on the field. However, after a review, it was ruled the freshman quarterback was down. Crisis was adverted — for now.
Syracuse would get the ball at its 17 yard line, roughly 51 yards away from game-tying field goal range. Dungey would do his job, leading the Orange to the 25-yard line. Cole Murphy’s 43-yard game-tying field goal attempt was no good.
The Seminoles survived.
James Blackman finished the day 12-19 for 136 yards and a touchdown. He added another 21 yards on the ground. Cam Akers, FSU’s unofficial player of the game, ran for a career high 199 yards on just 19 attempts. Leading receivers was Nyqwan Murray with 60 receiving yards on three catches. Keith Gavin, who was questionable heading into Saturday’s game, had a team high four receptions.
Syracuse out gained the Seminoles 463-343, mostly in part to the large disparity of plays run, 95-56.
Florida State will look to win back-to-back games for the first time next Saturday at Clemson.