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FSU blows a 20-point lead, falls to Miami on the road

The ‘Noles lose their first game at Miami since 2004.

NCAA Football: Florida State at Miami Steve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports

As is tradition, the Seminoles and Hurricanes got into a pregame scuffle at the conclusion of warm ups and the 63rd rendition of the rivalry was underway.

Florida State’s defense got off to a fast start, forcing Miami into a three-and-out. Special teams followed up with a solid return from D.J. Matthews, giving the offense the ball on the FSU 42-yard line.

It wouldn’t take long for Deondre Francois to get reacquainted with the Hurricanes’ defensive front, as they brought him to the ground for a sack on the first offensive series, forcing FSU into a 3rd & 14 situation.

However, a well executed tight end screen to Tre’ McKitty gave the offense an important first down. A couple of plays later, Francois zipped a touchdown pass to Keith Gavin. The catch was Gavin’s first touchdown as a Seminole and put FSU up 7-0 in the first quarter.

FSU’s defense continued to impress early in the game. A huge sack from Marvin Wilson and a great pass break up by Levonta Taylor highlighted the series and got the defense off the field. A poor punt from Miami allowed FSU’s offense to maintain good field position.

The offense was not able to capitalize but Logan Tyler would flip the field, pinning Miami inside its own 20-yard line.

Hits characteristic of a FSU-Miami game started appearing all over the field courtesy of Hamsah Nasirildeen. Another hard hit from Asante Samuel Jr. left the true freshman shaken up on the field and ultimately into the injury tent where he would be evaluated.

Miami benefitted from a highly questionable pass interference call on Kyle Meyers in the end zone. The Seminole defense would force Miami into a fourth down, but Miami elected to go for it and scored. Freshman corner A.J. Lytton was easily beaten by a slant route, leaving the game tied seven all.

The FSU offense we’ve become accustomed to reared its ugly head to start the second quarter. After a solid run on first down, Cam Akers tripped up short on second down. The offense moved quickly to the line to try and catch Miami off guard, but the Hurricanes read the Seminoles like a book and stuffed an inside hand off to Akers that Francois should have pulled.

The defense rebounded forcing Miami into another three-and-out. To this point, the defense was holding Miami to just 3.8 yards per play. Another solid return from D.J. Matthews was negated by a holding penalty on special teams, leaving the ‘Noles to start with its worst field position of the day.

On the ensuing drive, Francois threw a great deep ball to Tamorrion Terry, but Terry appeared to slow up on his route to avoid a hit. The ball fell to the turf, and Terry took a late hit anyway.

It seemed like it might be a turning point in favor of Miami, but Florida State’s defense came up huge to get the ball back.

A strip sack by Brian Burns was recovered by the ‘Noles and the turnover backpack came out to the delight of every Miami fan in attendance. Burns headed to the sideline, stood up on the bench donning the backpack and flashing an upside down U as the boos rained down.

The only thing of note that came from the offense on the following possession was a scary moment that left Francois on the turf grabbing at his previously injured knee. Francois would head to the tent and James Blackman entered the game for one play, a failed screen to Nyqwan Murray. Ricky Aguayo nailed a 42-yard field goal, putting FSU up 10-7.

The defense would force its third three-and-out of the game and Matthews would set up FSU with great field position following a 44-yard punt return.

The offense made the most of the shortened field with a six-play, 36-yard drive capitalized by a 17-yard touchdown pass to Terry to put the ’Noles up 17-7.

It wouldn’t be FSU-Miami without another altercation.

Following the touchdown, Miami and FSU players got into a scuffle after Logan Tyler tackled Miami’s Jeff Thomas via the facemask on the kickoff return.

Florida State took over after a Miami punt and a great catch by Terry gashed the ‘Canes for another 20 yards and ultimately set up a 53-yard field goal by Ricky Aguayo. The junior kicker has rebounded nicely after early season struggles and the 53-yard boot was the longest of his career.

The Seminoles went to the locker room with a 20-7 halftime lead.

Miami’s first offensive series of the second half was wrecked by two sacks. Burns and Marvin Wilson swallowed N’Kosi Perry like honey fried chicken on a Friday.

Matthews would follow up with a 74-yard punt return touchdown to put Florida State up 27-7 early in the third quarter.

It was about this time that the Florida State we’ve seen all year took over.

After offsetting penalties, the ‘Noles were forced to replay a third down that went south for the Seminoles. Francois got crushed and coughed up the football, giving Miami the ball on the FSU 20-yard line.

Another pass interference call in the end zone on Meyers set up the Hurricanes with a chance to score. Samuel Jr. broke up a pass to Miami’s Lawrence Cager to force a fourth down, but the ’Canes ran the same play with Cager getting the better of the smaller cornerback for a touchdown.

Just seconds later, Francois would be picked off when targeting McKitty on a tight end screen. Miami took over on FSU’s 17-yard line and took just one play to get into the end zone. Two scores in 42 seconds cut Florida State’s lead to just six, 27-21.

The defensive line continued to do its job. A huge sack from Fred Jones set the ‘Canes back and they would ultimately have to punt. Another poor punt from Miami set FSU up on its 45-yard line. FSU’s average starting field position to this point was their 40.

Life was injected into the Florida State team when a trick play seemingly saw D.J. Matthews toss a touchdown to Keith Gavin.

However, the ACC officiating crew ruled that the first pass from Francois to Matthews was a forward pass, negating the score. On the replay it looked to be a backward pass, at the very least lateral, but the play wasn’t reviewed and Ricky Aguayo missed a field goal. The score remained 27-21.

The lead was quickly wiped out when Miami got the ball. A four-play, 73-yard drive gave Miami the lead. N’Kosi Perry tossed two beautiful balls on the drive, including the 41-yard touchdown pass.

Florida State had a call go its way when a called fumble on the field was changed to an incomplete pass by Francois, but the Seminoles were forced to punt on the possession anyways.

A nice punt by Tyler was fielded at the Miami 10-yard line and should have flipped the field, but poor coverage allowed Jeff Thomas to break free for an additional 34 yards. Miami wouldn’t capitalize, though, and the Florida State defense forced another three-and-out, its sixth of the day.

A missed field goal by Miami gave the ’Noles some hope, but the offense showed no signs of life and left Logan Tyler to punt from the end zone. Miami would run out the clock for the victory, causing Florida State to fall to 3-3 on the season.

A complete collapse by the Florida State offense squandered a 20-point lead over the Hurricanes.

Unable to carry the momentum of the first half, the offensive line allowed Miami’s defensive front to run wild. Even when Francois had time, he didn’t capitalize as FSU had just 20 passing yards in the second half.

This, mixed with a questionable illegal forward pass call, cost the Seminoles a victory in Miami.