TALLAHASSEE – Florida State scored 17 unanswered points early in the third quarter to build a 38-24 lead and then held on to beat rival Florida 45-38 Friday night in Doak Campbell Stadium.
Trey Benson’s 17-yard touchdown run with 4:06 left in the game broke a 38-38 tie and Florida’s last-minute drive to send the game into overtime died when Anthony Richardson’s pass on fourth and long fell harmlessly into the end zone.
While Seminoles quarterback Travis Jordan’s passing numbers were modest, he was nearly unstoppable running the ball. Jordan finished 13 of 30 through the air for 270 yards and a touchdown and gained 83 yards on 15 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
FSU’s defense gave up some big plays through the air, but limited UF’s Richardson to just nine completions on 27 attempts for 198 yards but three of those were for touchdowns. Travis Etienne led UF’s running game with 129 yards on 17 carries.
Florida State finishes the regular season with a 9-3 record and await the announcement of the bowl parings, while Florida dropped to 6-6 on the season.
The start was a bit ominous for FSU as a perfect pass from Travis to Ontaria Wilson for a 29-yard gain and a sure first down turned into a turnover when Wilson fumbled going to the turf. On the ensuing possession, Florida left their offense on the field on fourth-and-two and FSU took back the momentum with a great defensive play.
FSU magnified the impact of the defensive stand by scoring on their next possession. Benson weaved through the UF defense for a 45-yard gain to the Gator 9-yard line then scored from there on the next play to give FSU a 7-0 lead.
Florida tied it on its next play from scrimmage when Richardson connected with a streaking Ricky Pearsall for a 52-yard touchdown to make it 7-7 with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
The Gators made it 14-7 when Richardson found an uncovered Jonathan Odom in the right flat who lumbered untouched from 12 yards out for the touchdown with 4:06 left in the first.
Travis tied the game at 14 on a spectacular 29-yard touchdown run with under two minutes left in the initial stanza. The score capped a 6-play, 75-yard scoring drive.
Richardson’s third touchdown pass of the half put the Gators up 21-14 in the second quarter. Richardson set up the score by hitting Ricky Pearsall on a crossing route for 32 yards and on the next play found him racing up the right hash for a 43-yard touchdown with 9:25 left in the second quarter.
Another phenomenal run by Travis on a scramble set up the Noles’ tying score with 5:44 left before the half. On third-and-10, Travis looked like he was going to be sacked for a big loss, but he outraced the Florida defense for a 10-yard run to the one. He took it in himself on the next play to make it 21-21.
Florida took a 24-21 lead into the locker room after hitting a 41-yard field goal with :42 left on the clock.
FSU came out of the second half hitting on all cylinders, particularly defensively, forcing the Gators into three straight three-and-outs and scoring on its first three drives.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, who missed a 38-yarder field goal attempt earlier in the game, drilled a 46-yarder with 8:53 left in the third to knot the score at 24-24.
After forcing a three-and-out for the Gators on the next drive, FSU mounted an 8-play, 66-yard drive with Benson carrying it over from the 1-yard line for a 31-24 lead with 4:21 left in the third.
Another outstanding defensive series set up FSU’s offense with great field position at the UF 44 after a personal foul for a hit out of bounds was assessed on the punt return. It took Florida State just two plays to score going up 38-24 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Travis to Kentron Poitier with 2:28 remaining in the third.
Florida cut the Seminoles’ lead to seven with a 13-play, 75-yard drive that culminated in a one-yard Montrell Johnson touchdown run with 10:35 left after a slew of penalties gave UF eight snaps from inside FSU’s 5-yard line.
Etienne tied it up again 38-38 with 7:41 left with a 45-yard touchdown run through the middle of the Seminole defense on a third-and-five.
FSU bounced back with what would prove to be the game-winning drive. Travis methodically marched the offense 65 yards on seven plays the last two were Benson runs. Benson ripped off 16 yards to set the Seminoles up with a first down on the UF 17 and then scored the game-winner on a slashing 17-yard run with 4:06 left to play for the 45-38 final margin.