TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- Even the all-black "Unconquered" uniforms and Homecoming couldn't help Florida State (5-3, 2-3 ACC) get off to a quick start after two straight heartbreaking losses to Wake Forest and Miami. Despite a lackluster effort in the first half, a stout performance by the defense and the offense getting on track in the second half helped the 'Noles take down hapless Duke (1-7, 0-5 ACC) 25-6 in front of 79,159 in Doak Campbell stadium.
"All victories are great victories," linebacker Derek Nicholson said "We're Glad we came out here and won this football game. This game was an important game, it's still an ACC game."
While Florida State had a hard time scoring touchdowns early, they didn't have any problem moving the football. In the first two quarters, the Seminole offense had five drives with each making it inside Duke's 25-yard line. All in all the offense racked up over 250 yards in the first half but never made it into the endzone. Instead, FSU settled for three field goals and took a 9-0 lead going into the locker room.
Defensively, Mickey Andrews' squad was nearly perfect early on. The visiting Blue Devils managed just two first downs in the first half (14 for FSU) with one of them coming on trick play on a pass from punter Kevin Jones to wide receiver Eron Riley. But that was the only offensive highlight for Duke in the first half.
The Seminole defense almost recorded its first shutout of the season but Duke finally got on the scoreboard in the fourth quarter following a Preston Parker fumble. The Blue Devils drove 47 yards and got in the endzone on a 3-yard scoring pass from Thaddeus Lewis to Brandon King. Despite the late score, the Seminole defense held Duke to just 222 total yards of offense, including just nine rushing.
"Defensively we played and excellent ballgame," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "As long as your defense plays like that, you always have a chance to win."
The 'Noles' touchdown drought ended quickly in the third quarter. After stopping Duke on another three-and-out, quarterback Drew Weatherford, making his first start since the September 29th Alabama game, put together a 9-play, 71-yard touchdown drive. Wide receiver Preston Parker cracked the ice when he took a screen pass to the left side and dove into the endzone.
After FSU's early third quarter touchdown drive the route was on.
The next time the Seminole offense touched the football, they hit pay dirt again. An 80-yard drive was again capped off by Parker, this time on a 14-yard end-around run. On the day, Parker had 116 total yards of offense.
"We did better in the redzone the second half," Bowden said. "I don't know, it could have been they got tired. They have been a good come from behind team."
Even though he didn't score a touchdown, junior running back Antone Smith had his best day as a Seminole rushing for a career high 146 yards on 23 carries.
Next up for the Seminoles is a road game on Saturday at No. 2 Boston College. The Kickoff time and television information will be announced Sunday afternoon.
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