Clemson, SC – First off happy Veterans Day to all who served. Now to Memorial Stadium where the 4th ranked Clemson Tigers welcomed the Seminoles of Florida State. The Tiger faithful packed out the house on a cool Veterans Day as Clemson defeated the Noles 31-14.
Splitting the last ten matchups evenly at five apiece, both Clemson and Florida State needed to make statements heading into the final stretch of the season. With bowl eligibility still up for grabs, Florida State saw their room for error shrink dramatically.
The Noles started the way they envisioned forcing a punt on Clemson’s first possession, but saw the Tigers take an early lead late in the first quarter after a two yard Kelly Bryant touchdown run.
Coach Fisher praised his defense and their play on the field.
“Defense played their tails off…they played hard.”
The third down woes that have haunted this ‘Noles team all year, reared its ugly head once again. Both offense and defense seemed to have trouble on the money down. At the half Florida State’s offense was just 2 for 8 on 3rd downs while giving up six conversations on nine attempts on defense.
Clemson added to their lead when running back Travis Etienne sprinted through the middle of the Florida State defense seemingly untouched for the 28 yard score making it 14-0. Just before the half Clemson added a Alex Spence field goal putting the Tigers up 17-0.
Aiming to not let the game get out of hand, Florida State came out of the locker room with a different mindset. Led by a stout defensive front, Florida State held Clemson scoreless in the third.
Late in the quarter, quarterback James Blackman led the ‘Noles on a seven play 90-yard drive capped by a three-yard Jacques Patrick touchdown run, putting the ‘Noles on the board 7-17.
Outside of the touchdown drive the Seminole offensive couldn’t seem to find its rhythm. Heading into the final quarter freshman running back Cam Akers had just 40 yards rushing on 12 attempts. After going off for over 200 yards against Syracuse the talented back was held to just 40 yards on 12 attempts.
“[We] Just got to relax and make the play when we have to. We had some opportunities in the game earlier.” Said Fisher on the missed opportunities in the game. “Whether it was offense, defense or special teams we just can’t seem to make that play when we need to make it.”
With just under nine minutes left in the game, and looking to make it a game, Blackman found tight end Ryan Izzo, who was wide open, for a dazzling 60 yard touchdown pass pulling the Seminoles within three with a score of 14-17.
Florida State seemed to suck all the momentum out of the stadium after linebacker Ro’Derrick Hoskins forced a Kelly Bryant fumble. Noles defense end Brian Burns hopped on the loose ball, giving Florida State the ball in good field position.
On the next play though, Clemson safety Van Smith stepped in front of Blackman’s pass for an interception, returning the ball inside Seminole territory. Six plays later, the Tigers cashed in on a one yard Etienne touchdown run making the score 24-14 Clemson.
After forcing a turnover on downs on the Noles’ next possession, Clemson iced the game with a bulldozing 10 yard touchdown run by runing back Adam Choice, making the final score 31-14.
Led by defensive linemen Christian Wilkins, the Tigers finished with five sacks to go with 10 tackles for loss.
“Them guys were coming through untouched or getting through pretty clean.” Said Fisher.”It ain’t nothing you can do.”
At 3-6 overall and 3-5 in conference play, Florida State finishes with a losing record in the ACC for the first time since 2006.
“They have to fight through this time right now and the adversity they’re going through.” Said Fisher on his team’s tough season.
With only three games remaining, the ‘Noles must win out to become bowl eligible. First up, Delaware State on Nov. 18th. Kickoff is scheduled for 12pm EST in Tallahassee.