Seminoles Get the Monkey Off Their Back With 26-19 Victory over Wake Forest

Written by Manuel Deleon
Winston-Salem, NC – In front of a sellout crowd of 31,588, Florida State strolled into Wake Forest and ran over the Demon Deacons, defeating head coach Dave Clawson and company 26-19.  It has been gut check time all week in Tallahassee, and the ‘Noles came into Saturday’s game looking to make a statement. Trying to find something to spark his team, Jimbo Fisher turned to a heavy dose of running backs Jacques Patrick and Cam Akers. With Patrick (19 carries 130 yds. one TD) turning in a monster game, Florida State was able to control the clock and execute their game plan. Going right at one of the strengths of this Wake Forest defense, coach Fisher stayed the course and kept pounding the ball inside “That was game plan, we wanted to be direct at them and felt like we could get it up inside.”

Both defenses stepped up early and played to a three-all tie in the first. The fireworks started early, and the ‘Noles looked to turn this into a blowout after Derwin James returned the opening kickoff for a touchdown, only to be negated by a penalty. Seeking to settle the team down early, coach Fisher relied on a strong running game in the first quarter. On his 3rd carry of the game, Patrick sprung a 69-yard run. He would still be running if it was not for a touchdown-saving tackle by safety Jessie Bates.

FSU showed exactly how the game would go. The Seminoles ran 14 plays in the first quarter, ten of them being run plays. FSU quarterback James Blackman (21 completions for 121 yards and one touchdown), whom most hope can lead this team to an ACC Championship, passed for only 7 yards in the first half. With a young quarterback under center, there’s no need to put undue pressure on the young man. “He was not out of whack, just wanted to be smart…because I thought it was just a one-possession game.” Said Fisher. “There’s no sense in putting that pressure on his back until you have to.”

After an abysmal 10 yard punt by Florida State to open the 2nd quarter, Wake Forest quarterback John Wolford (22 completions for 271 yards passing and 19 carries for 92 yards and one touchdown on the ground) and the Demon Deacons got great field position but could only muster a 39 yard FG by Mike Weaver. Clawson turned to Wolford and playmaking receiver Greg Dortch (10 rec. 110 yds.) on the Deacons next drive after forcing an FSU punt. Wake Forest went up 12-3 after picking apart Florida State with its quick screen game and the strong running of their dual-threat quarterback.

Special teams, showed up huge today for the ‘Noles. After going down by 9, sophomore wide receiver Keith Gavin took the ensuing kickoff and raced 81 yards giving Florida State new life and the ball in the red zone. Patrick would do the rest punching it in from one yard out giving the ‘Noles their first rushing touchdown of the season making the score 12-

The victory is the first step in becoming a better football team. “You never under appreciate winning.”  said Fisher “and how valuable those things are, and how easily they can go away, but how quick they can come back.”

Momentum started to swing in the Seminole’s favor after Kyle Meyers intercepted a Wolford pass which bounced off his intended receiver. After taking over at the Wake Forest 16-yard line, the red zone woes of FSU crept up as the ‘Noles had to settle for a Ricky Aguayo field goal, making the score 13-12 heading into halftime.

Florida State defense led by linebacker Matthew Thomas (10 tackles two sacks) and nickelback Kyle Myers (5 tackles 1TFL 1FF 1INT) held Wake forest to just 96 yards rushing and a 2.8 average per rush attempt.  Those numbers are disappointing, but coach Clawson is more worried about the results and not the effort put forth “We’re disappointed in the result, but not the effort. I think our kids played their hearts out and left everything on the field.”

The effort was not the issue for Wake Forest. As a team, the Demon Deacons got to James Blackman five times with defensive line standout Willie Yarbary leading the pack with two. The defensive front of Wake Forest made it tough for the ‘Noles as Duke Ejiofor, and Wendell Dunn both notched 3.5 tackles for loss.

Sticking to the plan, coach Fisher and the ‘Noles wore down this aggressive front for the Demon Deacons with their violent running style. Both Akers and Patrick were able to pop long runs in the 3rd quarter, but once again failed to find the end zone. Aguayo knocked through his third field goal of the game putting the Seminoles up 16-

Trying to keep his team in the game Wolford led Wake Forest on a seven play 2:19 drive capped by a Matt Colburn touchdown run from seven yards out putting Wake Forest back in the lead 19-16. Blackman would use his arm to tie the game back up. Keith Gavin had one more big play in him as Blackman found him on a quick pass and he raced the rest of the way 43 yards putting the ‘Noles in the Wake Forest red zone where they would settle for another Aguayo field goal. Seeing overtime on the horizon, Blackman willed his team to a late victory. Rolling to his right in the final moments of the game, Blackman squared up and launched a beautiful 40-yard pass to wide receiver Auden Tate (two reception for 47 yards and one touchdown), who was questionable to play with a shoulder injury.

From start to finish the ‘Noles were locked in a battle and kept grinding and found a way to pull off the victory. Coach Fisher knows the importance of a big win stating “To understand how you keep grinding…how good we can be if we want to be, but I think it is huge cause it gives you the confidence that I can still go out there and win in a big situation.”

The Seminoles will try to keep the momentum rolling when they welcome the Hurricanes of Miami to Doak Campbell Stadium October 7, at 3:30 p.m.

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