CLEMSON, S.C. (seminoles.com) – Florida State’s defense held Clemson to 13 second half points – but those 13 points proved to be enough as the Tigers escaped with a 30-20 win over FSU at Memorial Stadium. The Seminoles had taken a 20-17 lead on a scoop and score touchdown by Jermaine Johnson with 7:39 remaining in the fourth quarter but were unable to stop the Tiger offense, which scored the game-winning touchdown with 2:53 to play. The Tigers added the final touchdown of the game on a fumble recovery that was returned for a score after time had expired.
Florida State’s defense forced three turnovers and scored on one – the touchdown by Johnson – and held Clemson to 377 yards as its three-game winning streak was stopped. The Seminoles held Clemson to 188 yards rushing and 189 passing, while FSU quarterback Jordan Travis completed 14-of-21 passes for 176 yards and two touchdowns.
Florida State’s defense played well throughout the game. The Seminoles totaled 11 tackles for minus yardage (including 2.5 by Keir Thomas), were credited with five quarterback hurries (two by Keir) and two sacks (1.5 by Thomas).
“Congratulations to Clemson; they made the plays down the stretch to win the game,” said FSU Head Coach Mike Norvell. “I’m really proud of the heart that our guys showed, the way they continue to battle there late. Just too many mistakes. It was a good defense we were going against. We were really struggling to consistently establish drives. We had some opportunities, but the negative plays, the penalties, were too much for us to overcome.”
The Seminoles took their first lead as they scored the first touchdown of the game on a 1-yard pass from Travis to Corbin. For Corbin, it was the first receiving touchdown of his career. The extra point was blocked, which made the score 6-3 at the end of the first quarter. The touchdown pass was Travis’s 10th of the season.
Clemson retook the lead, 10-6, at the halfway point of the second quarter on an 11-yard pass from quarterback DJ Uiaglaelei to Davis Allen. The Tigers’ first touchdown of the game came on a four-play, 77-yard drive.
Florida State, as it has grown accustomed to in the second half of the season, answered quickly.
On one of the more incredible catch and run plays in college football this season, Lawrance Toafili scored on a 75-yard play to put the Seminoles ahead 13-10. During the play, Toafili was seemingly tackled but incredibly rolled over the Clemson defender and continued onto the end zone. The play was reviewed, and it was judged that Toafili was never down.
Clemson then answered with a touchdown of its own.
Shipley gained 45 yards on four carries, including a two-yard touchdown run with 3:41 left before halftime, to cap Clemson’s third scoring drive and put the Tigers up 17-13. Shipley gained 45 of the Tigers’ 83 yards on the scoring drive.
Florida State’s defense held the Tigers scoreless in the third quarter and halfway through the fourth and then put FSU in the lead 20-17 on Johnson’s touchdown (the first of his career).
“Those guys (our defense), they battled,” said Norvell. “Our defense, I thought they stepped up. To be able to get the touchdown – you force a fumble, create the takeaway. I was really pleased with how they responded in the second half. They had some challenging situations. We tried to be aggressive in the second half and they just continued to rise to the call. There at the end, they were too much … we gave up a play there at the end.”
Shipley scored the game-winning touchdown on a 21-yard rush with just under 3:00 remaining in the game. It was Shipley’s second rushing touchdown of the day and it gave the Tigers a 24-20 lead.
After an exchange of punts, the Seminoles got the ball back with less than :30 needing 91-yards for a game-winning TD. FSU was unable to get close enough for a Hail Mary and tried to lateral the ball down the field on the final play. Clemson was able to pick up an errant pitch and add a touchdown with no time remaining in the game.
“We’ve got to continue to grow, we’ve got to continue to learn,” said Norvell. “Our guys showed tremendous heart, tremendous fight. I’m proud of this football team, but we’ve got to play cleaner at the end. At the end of the day, it’s really disappointing.”