Written by Michael Hull
Tallahassee, FL- The Clemson Tigers came into Tallahassee and demolished the Florida State Seminoles 59-10. FSU quarterback Deondre Francois completed 17 of 36 passes for 188 yards and an interception, while his Tiger counterpart Trevor Lawrence finished with 314 yards and four touchdowns. Clemson finished with over double the amount of yards (524) as Florida State (247).
Clemson won the toss and elected to defer to the second half, so FSU started with the ball. It was a first quarter to forget from an offensive perspective, as neither team could get any momentum going. The ‘Noles did not get off to the best start, as an illegal block in the back on the kickoff forced them to start at their own seven-yard line. FSU went three-and-out and Clemson took over right around midfield.
Lawrence and the Tigers’ offense picked up a quick first down, but were then forced to punt. FSU picked up two first downs, but then a bad snap and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty set the ‘Noles back, facing 2nd & 43 at one point. After another punt, Clemson took over on their own 34-yard line and looked to go to work, but the FSU defense continued its strong play, forcing a three-and-out. The Seminoles then caught a huge break, as Clemson had just a 14 yard punt, putting the ball at the Clemson 49-yard line for Francois and the offense. The Seminoles offense couldn’t do anything with the gift that they were given however, and the ball went back to the Tigers. After the two teams traded punts, Clemson’s offense woke up, with Lawrence connecting with wide reciever Justyn Ross for a 41-yard gain to end the quarter deep into FSU territory. The two punters did the bulk of the work in the first, combining for 169 yards on seven punts.
It looked as if the Clemson offense stalled out to begin the second quarter, but a roughing the kicker call on Florida State defensive back Asante Samuel Jr gave them new life, putting the ball at the FSU 12-yard line. Clemson took advantage, as Lawrence hit wide receiver Tee Higgins for the touchdown to take the 7-0 lead.
The Seminoles continued their ineffectiveness on offense, punting for the fifth time. A great return set up the Tigers at their own 42-yard line. The Tigers’ offensive attack came out firing, moving down the field quickly, until Lawrence was able to hit Higgins for a three yard score to extend the lead to 14-0. The Clemson drive went 58 yards in nine plays, but took just 3:17 off the clock.
The Seminoles, in desperate need of anything resembling points on offense, drove the ball into Clemson territory on the following drive. A roughing the passer put FSU at the Clemson 30-yard line, but Francois had a pass tipped at the line and intercepted by linebacker Tre Lamar, who returned it all the way to the Florida State 30-yard line.
FSU then continued to make mistakes and give Clemson free yards. Between a targeting call and a pass interference penalty, that set up Clemson with the ball at the two yard line, where defensive tackle Christian Wilkins, lined up as a running back, put it in the end zone. With three and a half minutes left in the second quarter it was 21-0 Clemson. FSU gave the ball right back with their fourth three-and-out of the game.
The Tigers kept the foot on the gas, converting four straight first downs on the following drive. Clemson fullback Garrett Williams scored from two yards out to extend the lead to 28-0. The Tigers then got the ball back deep in FSU territory after a great punt return by returner Amari Rodgers. Clemson couldn’t score however, as they failed on a fourth down attempt. The Seminoles went into the locker room with just one more yard of total offense (65) than penalty yards (64). Francois was 10-22 for 69 yards and an interception. As for the Tigers, Lawrence finished the half with 188 yards and two touchdowns, both to Higgins.
The Tigers wasted no time in the second half, scoring a 58-yard touchdown pass from Lawrence to Rodgers on the second play of the half, which made it 35-0, Clemson. The Florida State offense came out and was just as effective in the second half, going three-and-out for the sixth time.
The FSU defense was able to force a punt for the first time since the first quarter, but returner DJ Matthews muffed the punt and Clemson took over at the Seminole 10-yard line. The Tigers settled for a chip shot field goal to extend their lead to 38-0. The Seminoles then, shockingly, punted on the next drive.
Lawrence showed off his arm on the next drive, hitting Rodgers on a 68-yard bomb to extend their already massive lead from 38 to 45. On the following drive, FSU entered the red zone for the first time in the game, but had to settle for a 35 yard field goal to make it 45-3. Lawrence was replaced by backup quarterback Chase Brice, ending his day with 314 yards and four touchdowns. Brice picked up on Lawrence’s success, completing a 61-yard pass on his second play, then throwing a touchdown pass to third wide receiver TJ Chase to make it 52-3. After an abysmal punt by FSU, the third quarter mercifully came to end.
Clemson came out in the fourth quarter and continued to step on the Seminoles’ throats, scoring on a 15-yard rushing touchdown from third string running back Adam Choice. On the following FSU drive, Francois was forced to exit the game after being shaken up on a sack. Sophomore quarterback James Blackman took over. He was put in facing 3rd & 19, the Seminoles couldn’t convert and Logan Tyler punted for the 11th time. Clemson threw a fourth down interception on the following drive, and Blackman took advantage. He made a great move in the backfield, then threw a perfect pass to backup wide receiver Keyshawn Helton for a 73-yard touchdown to make the score 59-10, where it would stay.
The Seminoles finished the game with -21 yards rushing and 16 penalties worth 134 yards. The MVP of this game for Florida State would have to be Tyler, who punted the ball 12 times for 499 yards.
FSU head coach Willie Taggart was not pleased with his team’s performance and discipline after the game.
“First time since I’ve been here I felt like we had some guys that quit on our football team and that can’t be tolerated,” Taggart said. “One thing you can’t do, you can’t quit. You quit, you don’t play. So we’ve got to do a great job of making sure we’ve got the right guys and at every aspect of the game, offense, defense, special teams”
Florida State falls to 4-4 this season and will travel to NC State next Saturday, as they continue to trek through one of the toughest remaining schedules in the country.