TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Despite early struggles and a halftime deficit, the Seminoles defeated the Duke Blue Devils on Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium. Led by quarterback Jordan Travis, FSU overcame adversity to stay undefeated, with a 38-20 win, staying the lone undefeated team in the ACC at 7-0.
Here’s how it all went down at Bobby Bowden Field.
Duke won the toss and deferred to the second half, giving the Noles the opening possession to start this party off. The kickoff would be a touchback, thus setting up FSU at their own 25-yard line.
They would start fast, with a quick first down on the 2nd play of the game, as Lawrence Toafili took it up the right side for 13 yards. The march continued across midfield, as they converted on a 3rd and short, with Trey Benson taking it for eight yards to the right sideline. Things would stall out on the next fresh set, though, as the Noles went for it on 4th and shorts, and Jordan Travis was stopped shy of the yard to gain.
The Blue Devils would have much more success on their opening drive as Riley Leonard got the start under center after having missed the field since his injury against Notre Dame. He would complete just one pass on the drive. However, he would be helped by his running back, Jaquez Moore, who broke free for a 42-yard scamper into the endzone. After an inconclusive review, the touchdown stood, and the Blue Devils took the early 7-0 lead with 9:50 left to play in the 1st quarter.
FSU would start their second possession at the 27-yard line. The drive wouldn’t get out of their first set of downs after an illegal touching penalty would set up a 4th and short at the 36. Benson would be stuffed and come up short, giving the ball back to Duke at the FSU 35-yard line.
The Blue Devils wouldn’t be able to move the ball, but they turned the failed conversion into a 10-0 lead courtesy of a 45-yard field goal from Todd Pelino.
For the Noles, it just happened that the third time was the charm for them. With their 3rd drive of the game, going 85 yards in 13 plays. Travis capped it off with a 7-yard touchdown pass to Caizah Holmes.
To this point, Duke had 11 passing yards. The Blue Devils’ third drive of the game would result in a quick three and out. However, The Noles would be backed up inside their own 10-yard line, and disaster would strike.
On 3rd and 12 from their own six-yard line, Travis’s pass would be deflected by Jaylen Stinson and was picked off and taken to the house by Chandler Rivers. This made it 17-7 Devils. However, on the ensuing kickoff, Duece Spann would take it from the one all the way for six.
This made it a 17-14 game with Duke still on top early in the 2nd quarter. The Blue Devils ensuing possession would end after getting across midfield with a Riley interception.
The Noles took over at their own 41-yard line. They would drive downfield before settling for a 32-yard Ryan Fitzgerald field goal to tie things up at 17. The Blue Devils would close out the first half with a go-ahead 33-yarder from Pelino to make it 20-17.
Halftime stats saw the Blue Devils with only 37 yards passing and the Noles with just 38 yards rushing. The Noles dominated the air assault with 175 passing yards, while Duke had the advantage on the ground with 144 yards rushing, led by Moore with ten carries for 100 yards.
The Blue Devils would open the second half with possession of the ball and were unable to get things rolling with a quick three-and-out. The same was the story for the Noles on their opening possession.
Riley’s injury would resurface as Bradwn Fiske got a whole fistful of his facemask and slammed Riley to the ground. Then Fiske buried his head in his hands in frustration, realizing his mistake. Riley was left grimacing on the ground. He tried to get up and eventually needed an extra look before being helped to the sideline.
Henry Belin IV would take the helm under center for the Devils. However, on a 4th and three from the FSU four-yard line, they elected to go for it and failed to convert, giving the Noles the ball back trailing 20-17 late in the 3rd.
The Noles would start from their four-yard line and get across midfield as Johnny Wilson hauled in an 11-yard reception, taking it to the Duke 44. However, he would have his head slam on the ground during the tackle and have to leave the game for further evaluation.
We would enter the fourth quarter with the Noles possessing the ball down 20-17. Five plays into the fourth quarter, Travis would take it in for a two-yard QB keeper to give FSU a 24-20 lead with just over 13 minutes left to play.
Following another three-and-out, FSU again went to work with Travis leading a score-extending drive. This time, he capped off the scoring drive with his arm, connecting with Toafili for 21 yards and the score. This made it 31-20 with 8:23 left to play.
Duke would get the ball back, and suffer another consecutive three-and-out. This time, they would go for it with hope dwindling, resulting in a turnover on downs. FSU took over at the Duke 32-yard line. They would keep it on the ground and would punch it in again. It was Rodney Hill taking it on for a nine-yard score to put this one well out of reach at 38-20 with 4:15 left to play.
Duke would use the remaining clock to try to get a final score, to no avail. The final score from Tallahassee as the fireworks erupted was 38-20, as the Noles improved to 7-0 on the season, the lone undefeated team remaining in the ACC after North Carolina lost to Virginia earlier.
Travis finished the game with 268 yards passing, completing 27 of 36 attempts. He also led the Noles on the ground with 62 yards on ten carries.
Next up for the Seminoles back-to-back road games, with trips to Wake Forest and then Pitt before coming back home to face the Hurricanes on Nov. 11th.
Written by Adrian Beecher