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Game story: Florida State falls to Florida as wheels falls off in the third quarter

Disappointing end to a promising second half of the season.

Florida State v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

Gainesville, FL- Florida State football’s season came to an end with a 24-21 loss to the Florida Gators on Saturday afternoon. The Seminoles had a disastrous third quarter which allowed the Gators to open up a 17-point lead early in the fourth quarter. As they have all season, FSU fought till the very end, but they couldn’t pull out the late comeback as they fell one win short of bowl eligibility.

The Seminoles are now 8-13 under Mike Norvell, but finished the season with five wins in their last eight games. Tonight’s loss was a disappointing end to a second half of the season that should give FSU fans optimism about the program under Norvell’s direction. After the game, the head coach said, “It’s a hard way to end this season, because I’ve seen a team that’s been knocked down, had all odds against them and they continued to respond, continued to work, continued to believe.”

Moments that mattered

FSU defense can’t get off field, UF opens scoring with 47-yard TD pass

UF received the opening kick after FSU deferred after winning the coin toss. Emory Jones got the start at QB for UF after some rumors he was injured earlier in the week. FSU’s defense had multiple opportunities to get off the field early, but they couldn’t execute. On third-and-short, backup QB Anthony Richardson plowed up the middle for a conversion.

Three plays later, Jones found Jacob Copeland, who beat LB Kalen Deloach in one-on-one coverage, for a third-and-eight conversion. The Seminoles got the Gators into a third-and-long situation again just across midfield, but it didn’t matter. On third-and-nine, Jones connected with Kemore Gamble on a wheel route. Gamble broke a Jammie Robinson tackle for a 47-yard score.

Defense comes up with crucial three-and-out

FSU’s offense started the game with a three-and-out as Travis was sacked on a third down. The poor start got even worse when Alex Mastromanno’s punt just 15 yards and UF took over at FSU’s 45. The Seminoles’ defense had to have stop to not go down double digits in the first ten minutes. They got it with a quick three-and-out. Jermaine Johnson forced a quick throw with immediate pressure on third-and-10. The QB hurry led to an incompletion and UF’s first punt.

Bad snap kills drive, Travis heads to locker room with injury

Travis was shaken up after the sack, but came out of the medical tent to run FSU’s second series. On a scramble across midfield, he was shaken up again and had to be taken out of the game. McKenzie Milton entered the game and dropped the snap on his first play to bring up a third-and-23. As Milton dropped the snap, Travis walked towards the Florida State locker room and the Seminoles’ chances at a win looked slim. FSU then punted after a sack.

Milton, Jones trade INT’s

The UCF-transfer was back behind center after UF punted, with Travis still in the locker room. On third-and-seven, Milton rolled out to his left and tried to sidearm a pass to Ontaria Wilson. Milton overthrew the wide receiver and the ball went directly to a UF safety for an interception. On the very next play, Keir Thomas pressured Jones on a flea-flicker and hit him as he looked for a wide receiver downfield. Robinson was able to take advantage of the under-thrown ball for an INT.

FSU turned to Tate Rodemaker after Milton’s interception. Rodemaker’s drive was immediately killed on an offensive pass interference. The Seminoles quickly punted the ball back to UF.

DeLoach makes another big play, Jones intercepted on second straight drive

Gamble made another big play as he broke a Jarvis Brownlee tackle for a 25-yard gain to push UF Into FSU territory. The Gators were picking up first downs with ease as Jones started to use his leg. But Jarrett Jackson made a crucial play on first down as he stuffed Jones in the backfield to bring up second-and-long. Jones tried to hit a wide reciever to his left, but Kalen DeLoach undercut the route for his first career interception.

Travis returns, ‘Noles tie game on 68-yard TD drive

Just before DeLoach picked off Jones, Travis ran out of the locker room fully padded and with his helmet on. He got in a few throws, then put on the headset and got back into game mode. He returned to the field following the interception and brought FSU’s offense back to life. UF was called for pass interference as Travis looked for Malik McClain in a one-on-one downfield. The QB found Andrew Parchment in a soft spot of the defense for a 26-yard connection to move FSU near the red zone. Despite dealing with a nagging shoulder injury, Travis wasn’t afraid to create with his legs. He scrambled for 15 yards to set FSU up within the Gators’ 10. On the next play, he exploded past a UF linebacker for a nine-yard score to even the game at seven.

Brownlee picks off Jones in the end-zone

UF’s offense picked the Seminoles apart on third down in the first half, but the Seminoles made the big plays to keep it a tie game at half. The Gators marched down the field with four third-down conversions to set up first-and-goal with under a minute left in the half. Jones tried to connect with a WR deep in the end-zone, but Brownlee jumped the route for FSU’s third interception of the half.

UF takes lead early in 2H with short FG

The Seminoles got the ball at their own 35 to start the second half after a kickoff out of bounds, but couldn’t do anything with it. A false start brought up 3rd-and-11 and Travis had to throw it away due to immediate pressure. Mastromanno mis-hit his punt, lining it to the UF returner for just 35 yards. The kick was returned 14 yards, and another 15 yards was added on due to a targeting call on Darion Williamson. UF took over at FSU’s 40.

After another poor throw by Jones, UF brought in Richardson. He found Copeland over the middle for a third down conversion on his first play of the drive. The ‘Noles finally got a third down stop on third-and-eight as they stuffed Richardson on a QB draw. UF converted a 36-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead early in the half.

FSU squanders opportunity for points, muffed fumble opens door for UF

The Seminoles looked destined to at least even up the score after UF’s field goal, but mistakes set back a promising drive. On the first play of the drive, Wilson snatched a deep ball by Travis with one hand for a 36-yard gain. The QB hit McDonald on the next play for another first down. Travis created with his legs for a 16-yard gain tp put FSU in field goal territory. But three plays later, the QB was sack on third-and-long to push the Seminoles out of field goal territory.

The defense came up with a crucial three-and-out after Mastramanno pinned the Gators at their one. The Seminoles looked like they would flip field position with another chance to tie or win the game, but FSU had another costly mistake. Wilson tried to field a punt as he was back-pedaling, but it bounced right out of his hands and into a Gator’s.

UF took advantage of the massive mistake and quickly pushed the lead to two scores. On third-and-goal, Richardson found Justin Shorter in the back of the end-zone for a touchdown.

Travis picked off for first time since October 2nd, UF extends the lead to three scores

FSU needed an immediate response to keep the wheels from completely falling off. Instead, they turned the ball over again. On the second play of FSU’s following drive, Travis was intercepted on a 50/50 ball to Parchment downfield. It was Travis’ first interception since October 2nd.

UF began to impose their will on FSU’s defense after the interception. The Seminoles had been on defense for most of the second half, and as they stayed on the field, their tackling dwindled away. Dameon Pierce rushed for 6+ yards on the first four plays of the drive. Richardson scrambled for 17 yards to put UF in the red-zone. On fourth-and-goal from the three, Pierce walked into the end-zone as a massive lane opened up in the trenches. UF led by 17 with 12:36 remaining.

Ward scores from 19 out to give ‘Noles a glimmer of hope

FSU wouldn’t roll over and quit, and that will to keep fighting starts with Travis. The QB evaded a couple tacklers and ran up the sideline for 34 yards. On third-and-eight, he threw a perfect pass to McClain for a third-down conversion. Two plays later, Treshaun Ward scampered into the end-zone from 19 yards out. The TD drive lasted six plays and took under three minutes.

Defense gives offense a chance, but time runs out on FSU’s season

After UF out-willed them for three straight drives, FSU’s defense bounced back with back-to-back stops. The offense couldn’t do anything with the first one as they went three-and-out near their end-zone. Travis and the offense took over at their own eight with 3:55 remaining and still down ten. FSU’s drive lasted what felt like an eternity. The Seminoles drove 92 yards in 16 plays to trim the lead to three. Wilson leaped up for an eight-yard TD catch from Travis with 49 seconds remaining.

FSU had one last chance, an onside kick from Parker Grothaus. Grothaus looked to push the ball straight ahead of him, but he mis-hit (or barely touched) the ball and FSU had to illegally touch the ball, which gave the ball to UF and effectively ended the game.

FSU notables

Travis: 18-29, 202 yards, 1 TD, 102 rush yards, 1 rush TD

Wilson: 3 rec, 50 yards, 1 TD

Robinson: 18 tot tkl, 1.5 tfl, 1 INT