WINSTON-SALEM, N.C.-- For the second straight game No. 23 Florida State was unable to get out its own way.
Thanks to a host of mistakes, highlighted by five turnovers and 13 penalties for 109 yards, the Seminoles fell to Wake Forest 35-30 on Saturday.
The Seminoles are now 2-3 overall and 0-2 in the ACC.
"Very disappointing performance," head coach Jimbo Fisher said after the game. "The same issues. Five turnovers, you can't win a football game. 13 penalties, you can't win a football game. We had opportunities. Got the momentum back at halftime ... we (gave up) a safety and changed the momentum of the game and played from behind the rest of the game."
Redshirt freshman quarterbackClint Trickett started under center for FSU, but after throwing his second interception of the game he was replaced by EJ Manuel late in the second quarter.
Fisher hoped to give Manuel one more week of rest because he was told by team doctors that a solid hit on the redshirt junior signal caller's injured shoulder could set him back six more weeks. But when Trickett was ineffective, Fisher opted to insert Manuel into the game.
Trailing 16-7 when he entered, Manuel took over for FSU at his own 12-yard line and led a FSU on a six-play, 88-yard touchdown drive capped off by a 46-yard pass to Rashad Greene just before the end of the first half. Greene was a bright spot for the Seminoles has he tallied 12 catches for 163 yards and the touchdown.
Despite the three first-half turnovers, the Seminoles seemed to have taken control of the game's momentum entering halftime down 16-14. But gave it right back to Wake Forest on two disastrous plays in the third quarter.
On the first play of the second half Manuel was sacked for a loss of 15. Then after a false start by right tackle Zebrie Sanders, Jermaine Thomas was tackled in the endzone for a safety to put Wake ahead 18-14.
After the safety, Wake Forest would go on to score two touchdowns and FSU could only answer with a 40-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins.
"When they got the safety I think that was a huge boost for them," Manuel said. "Getting two points and then stopping us coming out of halftime where we really wanted to pick up the momentum where we had left off in the first half. That was huge for them."
Trailing 32-17, FSU did try to climb back into the game with a 7-play, 71-yard touchdown drive capped off by a three-yard run by Ty Jones with 12:37 left in the game.
But once again, the defense couldn't keep a hold of the momentum. The Seminoles allowed the Deacons to go on a 6:10 drive that ended in a 32-yard field goal to put FSU behind by two possessions (35-24) with just over six minutes left in the game.
The Demon Deacons finished the game 4-of-15 on third down, but all four were big plays. Wake Forest quarterback Tanner Price (21-35, 233 yards, 3 TD) threw for gains of 17, 24, and 15 on third down and also threw and 8-yard touchdown pass on third and goal.
"We're not being able to get off the field at the right time," Fisher said. "We've played well on special teams at times, we've played on offense at times, we've played well on defense. What we haven't done is play well together. One side is not feeding off the other.
After the Demon Deacons field goal, Manuel was intercepted for the second time in the game at his own 38-yard line. FSU was able to force a 3-and-out to get the ball back with just over four minutes left in the game trailing by 11.
Manuel led a 12-play, 89-yard scoring drive which he capped off with a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Shaw. The redshirt junior finished the game 19 for 35 for 286 yards, two touchdowns, and two interceptions.
Trailing 35-30 FSU was unable to recover the onsides kick as Wake Forest ran out the clock to improve to 4-1 overall and 3-0 in the ACC for the first time in school history.
For FSU it was a third straight loss that will certainly knock the team out of the polls just a month after being ranked fifth in the country. After the game Fisher said he didn't think it was a matter of hunger for his team, but not playing smart football.
"We don't play intelligently ... you have to play intelligent," he said. "We have to teach them that way. We're not playing with intelligence in the right situations to be able to convert the things we need to convert to win the football game."