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FSU 28, Va. Tech 22 - Quarter-by-Quarter Breakdown
If nothing else, Florida State certainly has a flare for the dramatic on the road. This time, instead of a raucous home crowd going home happy, the Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 ACC) stole an upset bid from host Virginia Tech in the closing moments of the game.
Quarterback EJ Manuel, playing in his home state for the first and only time in college, hit Rashad Greene on an in-route that went for 39 yards and the deciding score in a 28-22 Seminole victory. Greene finished the game with six catches, 125 yards and two touchdowns.
Perhaps as shocking as anything Thursday night, the Seminole rushing game was largely ineffective. Although the numbers were aided by Manuel sack yardage, FSU finished the night with negative 15 yards on 25 carries. Florida State also turned the ball over twice - on a Manuel interception and a Tyler Hunter fumble.
The Seminoles finished with 311 total yards of offense to Virginia Tech's 386, and the Hokies out-possessed FSU 31:29 to 28:31.
Florida State's magic number to clinch the ACC Atlantic and a berth into the ACC Championship stands at one, meaning a win over Maryland next week wraps up the division.
The Skinny: Even with points on the board and the teams tied at 3-3, it was an ugly start for both offenses at Lane Stadium.
Dustin Hopkins put Florida State on the board with a 52-yard field goal to complete the game's opening possession.
Virginia Tech countered with a 60-yard drive fueled by a 54-yard completion from QB Logan Thomas to Marcus Davis. FSU defense held inside the red zone, however as VT kicker Cody Journell punched one through from 35 yards with 7:29 left in the quarter.
EJ Manuel threw a pick on the goal line intended for Nick O'Leary - Manuel's fifth interception of the season - but his defense picked him up two drives later as Tyler Hunter picked off Thomas to give FSU the football at the VT 34. Thomas' INT gives him an FBS-worst 13 on the season.
Key Play: Manuel's red zone interception was a big one for momentum's sake. While it hit off of O'Leary's hands, it was also a forced throw and kept the crowd and the Hokies very much in the game entering the second quarter.
Key Player: Kicker Dustin Hopkins has been big in unfriendly conditions, nailing a 52-yarder and a 45-yarder on the first play of the second quarter to get FSU the lead.
Key Stat: minus-3 yards. Thanks to a pair of sacks by Virginia Tech, Florida State is in the red in rushing yards. Freeman has four carries for nine yards while James Wilder Jr. has three carries for three yards.
The Skinny: The offense looked anemic for the Seminoles, at least until the final drive.
Virginia Tech took a 10-6 lead late in the second quarter, but Florida State woke up after falling behind, marching down the field effortlessly to nab the lead back. FSU went 71 yards on five plays. Manuel was 4-of-4 passing for 76 yards on the drive and connected with Rashad Greene for a 25-yard score with 48 seconds left in the half.
Key Play: Manuel threaded a perfect over-the-shoulder throw on a perfect drive to Greene on the touchdown pass. It gives him 17 touchdown passes on the season against just five interceptions.
Key player: Manuel. While he made some poor decisions early, he rallied his team back with that late drive and was the relative bright spot in a first-half struggle so far.
Key Stat: Florida State has minus-9 rushing yards at the half. Florida State has rushed for at least 125 yards in each of its nine games this season and for at least 200 yards in six of nine games to date.
The Skinny: The two sides traded touchdowns in the third frame, with the suddenly hot quarterbacks continuing momentum from the second quarter.
Seminole quarterback EJ Manuel threw a 10-yard touchdown to Greg Dent to push Florida State ahead 20-10, but then Thomas answered with a touchdown run after Virginia Tech went 80 yards in eight plays to make the score 20-17.
Florida State's touchdown drive was keyed by a Marcus Davis fumble at the Hokie 45-yard line. Linebacker Vince Williams recovered the ball at the VT 49, setting the stage for a Seminole score.
Key Play: The fumble from Davis helped spring the Seminoles to a two-score advantage. Prior to the turnover, the offenses again seemed primed to be trading out stalls.
Key Player: Dent took his turn with a touchdown catch in the quarter. He now has three catches for 60 yards and a score.
Key Stat: 3. Sacks are helping the totals, but FSU has just three rushing yards through three quarters.
The Skinny: Florida State and Virginia Tech put their fan bases through respective heart attacks in the final 15 minutes Thursday night.
In the end, it was the Seminoles who came away with a wild victory. Manuel answered a go-ahead Hokie field goal with a drive of 68 yards in eight plays, capped by a 39-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene.
Key Play: It's not the touchdown, but instead on a 4th-and-1, James Wilder Jr. was stopped short on his first effort on a run up the middle, but upon second effort, Wilder forced his way to a first down. Had this play not occured, the game would have ended with Lane Stadium in a frenzy.
Key player: Greene showed immense burst after making a the decisive catch in order to clinch the winning touchdown. Greene's athleticism spared the game from being decided on the foot of a kicker.
Key Stat: Florida State won the game with negative 15 yards rushing.