Seminoles come up short in final seconds at No. 25 Virginia
Box Score: UVA 31, FSU 24
For three quarters the Florida State defense played its best game of the season.
But the fourth quarter was an unmitigated disaster as the Seminoles allowed 221 yards and three touchdowns on Virginia's last three drives to blow another second-half lead. Then on the final play of the night the FSU offense came up three yards short of a potential game-tying score in a bizarre sequence that ended with UVA fans rushing the field after a 31-24 victory.
After a 16-yard pass from James Blackman to Keyshawn Helton gave the Seminoles a first down at the Cavaliers' 4-yard line with four seconds left, the FSU offense elected not to spike the ball but instead try a direct-snap play to Cam Akers. It was snuffed out as Akers' elbow touched at the 3-yard line before he bounced up and got into the end zone.
The Virginia players and fans celebrated wildly as the Seminoles suffered yet another heartbreaking loss. Florida State is now 1-2 on the season and 6-9 overall under Willie Taggart.
The Seminoles had a 17-10 lead entering the fourth quarter but allowed Virginia's offense to do whatever it wanted in the final 15 minutes. The Florida State defense was also called for four personal-foul penalties during that span.
In total, FSU was called for 10 penalties in the game.
Virginia, meanwhile, was called for four on the Seminoles' final drive of the game - two on fourth-down plays that extended FSU's drive - to set up the wild final sequence that brought back memories of the Seminoles' 1995 loss at Virginia when Warrick Dunn was stopped just short of the end zone on a direct snap.
Blackman finished 22 of 37 for 234 yards, three touchdowns and zero picks. Virginia's Bryce Perkins was 30 of 41 for 295 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Cavaliers finished with 415 total yards as the FSU defense completely collapsed in the final 15 minutes.
The first half was the best one the Florida State defense has played all season. By a wide margin.
The Cavaliers' first possession ended on an interception by Asante Samuel. The last possession ended with a pick from safety Levonta Taylor. And in between the Cavaliers managed just 10 points. Against a defense that was allowing 40 points per game coming into Saturday night.
It was a promising start for a unit that had been quite maligned through the first two weeks of the season.
Virginia still gained 208 yards in the first half but was just 3 of 8 on third down. And the Cavaliers' running backs managed just 30 yards on 10 attempts.
Blackman started just 1 of 7 in the first half for the Florida State offense, but caught fire in the second quarter. The sophomore completed 8 of his final 12 passes for 113 yards and two touchdowns. He hit Gabe Nabers for a 10-yard TD pass and then found Cam Akers for a 3-yard TD with 38 seconds left in the half.
The Seminoles gained 187 yards in the first two quarters and averaged 5.8 yards per play and went into the locker room with a 14-10 halftime lead.