Florida State keeps bowl hopes alive with win over Florida
Florida State scored twice on defense and kept its bowl hopes alive with a 38-22 victory over Florida on Saturday in Gainesville, Fla.
Senior linebacker Jacob Pugh returned a fumble for a touchdown and sophomore defensive back Levonta Taylor intercepted two passes, returning one for a score as the Seminoles (5-6) prevailed despite recording 215 yards of total offense.
Freshman quarterback James Blackman completed 10 of 21 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns for Florida State, which can extend the nation’s longest active bowl streak to 35 seasons with a victory over Louisiana-Monroe next week.
Freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks was 18 of 39 for 184 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions for the Gators (4-7), who had 280 yards of offense.
Florida State improved to 18-2 versus teams from the state of Florida under coach Jimbo Fisher with its series-high fifth straight victory, and seventh in the last eight meetings.
Sophomore defensive end Brian Burns strip-sacked Franks, and Pugh scooped up the fumble and ran 16 yards for a touchdown 4:08 into the game. Taylor stepped in front of a pass intended for wide receiver Josh Hammond and took it 18 yards for a score that gave the Seminoles a 24-7 lead late in the second quarter.
The Gators extended their NCAA record by scoring in their 372nd consecutive game when senior running back Mark Thompson scooted up the middle for a 10-yard score to make it 7-7 in the first quarter. Franks’ 4-yard TD pass to senior wide receiver Brandon Powell trimmed the deficit to 24-13 with 29 seconds left in the half.
Florida junior Eddy Pineiro converted his 16th straight field goal - a 45-yarder in the third quarter that made it 24-16.
Florida State took a 31-16 lead on freshman running back Cam Akers’ 10-yard touchdown run with 11:21 remaining. The big play in the 74-yard drive was a 39-yard pass to defensive back turned wide receiver Ermon Lane on second-and-19 from the Gators’ 46-yard line.
The Seminoles could have had a third defensive touchdown when senior linebacker Matthew Thomas appeared to return an interception 30 yards for a touchdown, but his knee hit the ground at the 1-yard line while showboating his way into the end zone.
It was the first time since 1959 and the second occurrence in series history that the teams entered the game with losing records.