It took three games, but Florida State football is finally in the win column following a 26-19 victory at Wake Forest.
Florida State started the game doing something it had yet to through its first two games in 2017— score first. Ricky Aguayo knocked in a career long 51-yard field goal. Shockingly, those were FSU’s first points scored in the opening quarter all season.
It wasn’t a completely clean drive however as FSU lost injury-plagued starting left tackle Derrick Kelly to an injury. He would not return.
However, FSU did not hold that slim lead very long. Receiver George Campbell fumbled a screen pass and Wake recovered inside the Seminoles’ 35-yard line. The Demon Deacons managed a chip-shot field goal to tie the game at 3-3.
The Florida State offense was abysmal to say the least in that opening quarter. Jacques Patrick had a 69-yard rush which led to that field goal, but the Seminoles had just 14 total yards in its 13 other plays run that quarter.
James Blackman, after that terrific debut vs. NC State, completed all four attempted passes, although those went for a combined four yards.
Jimbo Fisher said in his press conference on Monday that he did not expect the running back rotation to change much. Freshman RB Cam Akers didn’t touch the ball once in the first 13 plays while both Amir Rasul and Jacques Patrick got touches. In the end, Patrick received the majority of the touches (19) for 120 yards with Akers rushing for 58 yards on 15 touches.
After Wake Forest rumbled through the Seminoles defense on an eight play, 81-yard drive for a touchdown, it missed the extra point and it would become a 12-3 FSU deficit.
Reminiscing from his late kickoff return vs. Michigan in the 2017 Orange Bowl, Keith Gavin took the ensuing kickoff 81-yards to the Wake 17 yard line. The ’Noles capitalized, scoring its first rushing touchdown of the season, courtesy of Jacques Patrick, becoming the last FBS team to do so. With 5:41 left until halftime, the Wake lead was cut to 12-10.
It continued to be a days of firsts as Kyle Meyers’ interception on the following drive was the first FSU forced turnover of the season. Despite having a first and 10 on the 15-yard line, Ricky Agauyo would end up on the field for a field goal attempt. His successful 27-yard kick gave FSU the lead back, 13-12, just before the half.
Blackman headed into the half of his first career road start with seven passing yards, but the lead nevertheless. The offense had been set up to score thanks to some great special teams and defensive plays. Two of FSU’s eight first half drives started inside Wake’s 30 yard line. In total, FSU had 108 total yards and 3.7 yards per play at the intermission.
After forcing a Wake punt in the first drive of the second half, Florida State’s offense finally showed up. The ’Noles went down the field, and on third and goal from four yards out of the endzone, James Blackman had what he thought was a touchdown. There was a holding call on Alec Eberle that brought the ball back, but also a late hit Wake Forest giving FSU a first down. All-in-all, that 8:22, 60-yard drive ended with yet, another Ricky Aguayo field goal making it a 16-12 ballgame.
In the middle of that drive, another FSU lineman, Landon Dickerson, left the game early due to an injury. He would return in the team’s following drive.
After its first interception, FSU forced its first fumble and recovered it with Wake threatening. The Demon Deacons were just 22 yards away from taking the lead over before that Kyle Meyers forced fumble.
FSU would go three-and-out for the second time and punt the ball back to Wake.
This time, WF would end up with seven points on a 7 play, 59 yard drive on a very undisciplined effort from the Seminoles defense.
For the first time in the second half, Wake took a 19-16 lead with 13:57 left.
When starting in its own territory, FSU had scored twice in nine total opportunities. The ’Noles would come away empty again on that tenth attempt, losing seven yards in a three-and-out, and be forced to punt.
A 29-yard punt return later, Wake took near midfield with the opportunity to make it a two possession game. The defensive stepped up with two sacks and FSU got the ball right back.
You’ll never guess what happened next. Florida State got into the red zone and were forced to settle for a game-tying field goal from 35 yards out. 6:20 remained in the contest.
The defense forced its second straight three-and-out and its third of the game to get the ball back with 4:58 left and all three timeouts.
There was momentum, and then once FSU reached the Wake Forest 39 yard line, it halted. Florida State could not convert a 2nd and one and elected to punt rather go for it or what would be a 56-yard field goal.
Wake received the ball 90 yards away from the end zone with 1:23 left.
The Demon Deacons punted right back, giving FSU the ball at the Wake 40. James Blackman wasted no time, throwing a 40-yard touchdown pass to Auden Tate. FSU had the lead 26-19 with 53 seconds left.
Wake would have the opportunity to throw up one last hail mary which fell short.
James Blackman finished the game 11-21 for 121 yards and one touchdown. Of those 1 completions, five went to running backs.
The offense as a whole, in part to a 103 total yard fourth quarter performance, had 270 yards and 4.2 yards per play.
Leading receivers yet again was Auden Tate with two catches for 47 yards and that lone passing touchdown.
On defense, Kyle Meyers had one interception and forced a fumble, giving Florida State great field possession both times. Matt Thomas led FSU defenders with 10 tackles and two tackles for loss.