November 30, 2013

Lengthy drive sparks Seminole offense in win

GAINESVILLE - Florida State had a long, hard road to its first touchdown on Saturday.

Stonewalled for the first quarter and a half and pinned deep in its own territory, FSU quarterback Jameis Winston took his offensive teammates aside.

"Before that I got the team together and I said, "look guys, this is going to define this game,'" Winston said. "'If we can shove it down their throat, 96 yards, we will win this football game.' And they said 'I got you.' And I said 'Okay, let's do it.' We broke it. We got to rolling."

FSU fought through an amped-up Florida defense, converted three third downs and overcame 15 yards in penalties to go 96 yards for a touchdown, a score that finally loosened up Florida's defense and sparked FSUs' 37-7 win.

The drive lasted 12 plays and actually covered 122 yards because of a pair of penalties. FSU opened with a series of punishing runs by Devonta Freeman to get out of its own red zone. FSU center Bryan Stork said the length and duration of the drive helped to wear down Florida's defense. Stork said by the end of the drive he noticed Florida players with their hands on their hips.

"That's a sign of weakness," Stork said. "We saw it in the first quarter, second quarter. Not disrespect to those guys, those guys played hard. But like I said, we're in good shape. We train hard."

But more so than the strain of staying on the field, FSU's conversions on third down stung Florida's defense. Especially FSU's third-and-26 conversion after a sack of Winston and a delay of game penalty had pushed FSU back. Where FSU statistically should have been forced to punt, Winston found Shaw over the middle for 27 yards. Shaw held on to the ball despite taking a massive hit as well.

"That's how you hurt teams," Winston said. "They're like, 'How did you convert on third and 27?' That's what we do. That's when we got crunk. That's that 90-yard drive right? We moved the ball down the field."

Before the drive, FSU had just 39 yards of offense in three drives. Winston's fifth throw was picked off, a potentially crucial misstep, and the game was exactly the kind of grind-it-out contest that favored Florida. But after that drive, FSU started piling up its usual offensive production. Winston finished with 327 yards passing despite starting just 4-7 with 33 yards and an interception. FSU's offense put up 456 yards of total offense and finished with a 7.2 yards per play average. It was a welcome change from 2012, when FSU's high-powered offense faltered against the Gators and had just 4.9 yards per play.

Getting a few big plays in early - including the 45-yard touchdown throw to Kelvin Benjamin that put FSU on the board - helped get the Seminole offense in a groove as well after getting smacked around a bit early in the game.

"To overcome a penalty, to overcome two big third and longs, to overcome and get that momentum and said, 'you know we can do this,'" Fisher said. "(We) just loosened up. We got tight and couldn't get going. Offense is about rhythm. Sometimes you're just a hair off and it can be devastating."

  • Winston's three touchdown passes gave him the most TD passes in a single season in FSU history. Winston passed Chris Weinke with his second TD pass. He now has 35 on the season. Winston also set a new ACC record for yards passing by a freshman, passing former Seminole Drew Weatherford

  • Benjamin's 200-yard game is the first for an FSU receiver since 2003. For the season Benjamin now has 11 touchdowns.

  • FSU's offense put up 37 points, which breaks a 12-game streak of scoring at least 40 points. That streak tied an NCAA record from Texas in 2005. FSU also went scoreless in the first quarter for the first time in eight games.

  • Nick O'Leary now has the third-most receptions by a tight end in FSU history.

  • FSU went 9-for-15 on third down, while holding Florida to 1-for-11 on third down conversions. UF did go 2-3 on fourth down.

  • Roberto Aguayo continued his climb up FSU's record books. He now has 131 total points, needing just 10 to top Dustin Hopkins record for most kicking points in a season (that's also an ACC record

  • FSU had no interceptions for just the second game this season and the first since Oct. 25 against Maryland. FSU did recover two fumbles, making it the seventh straight game with multiple turnovers forced for the Seminoles.

  • Bryan Stork was the sod captain for Saturday's game.

  • Announced attendance was 90,454.

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