Tallahassee, FL: Two weeks before Halloween, Clemson put a real scare into their fans in the fourth quarter of Saturday night’s 34-28 win at Florida State. The Tigers put together a 27-0 run in the middle portions of the game and were went cruising into the fourth quarter leading 34-14. But the Seminoles scored a pair of touchdowns and came within an onside kick of having a chance to pull off the monumental comeback.
Game Recap by Nikki Hood
It was ugly at the beginning and at the end of the game, but Clemson won the middle, and that was what ultimately mattered the most. Clemson (7-0 overall, 5-0 ACC) defeated Florida State (4-3, 2-3) 34-28 Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium. Clemson finished with 370 yards of offense, while Florida State finished with 460 yards. DJ Uiagalelei finished with four total touchdowns – three through the air and one on the ground. Will Shipley accounted for 238 yards of offense – 121 on the ground and 48 receiving yards.
It didn’t take Florida State long to get on the board as they promptly marched down the field on the game’s opening drive. The Seminoles used a pair of screens and the ground game, including a 19-yard rush by Trey Benson and a 20-yard scoring run by Jordan Travis to take a 7-0 lead with 11:41 to play in the opening quarter.
After Myles Murphy sacked Travis and forced a three-and-out on Florida State’s second drive, Clemson’s offense found its rhythm. After a series of short gains, Uiagalelei side-step a Seminole defender avoiding a sack and stepped up in the pocket, as he found Antonio Williams streaking down the sideline for a 59-yard touchdown. The play covered 73 yards in just four plays as Clemson tied the game at 7-7 with 6:52 to go in the first quarter.
That touchdown pass was Clemson’s longest play of the season and its longest pass play since Trevor Lawrence’s 67-yard touchdown pass to Amari Rodgers against Notre Dame in the 2020 ACC Championship Game.
Florida State was called for an illegal block in the back on the kickoff return pushing its starting field position back to the seven-yard line, but passes of 22 yards and 18 yards, along with a couple of short gains, had the Seminoles quickly in plus territory. Six of the drive’s final seven plays were rushes, including the one-yard plunge by linebacker DJ Lundy. The Noles took a 14-7 lead with 14:55 to play before halftime.
Clemson responded. A 19-yard pass to Joseph Ngata on 3rd-and-7 and a 14-yard run by Phil Mafah allowed the Tigers to cross midfield. Facing a 4th-and-1 at the Seminole 44, Uiagalelei kept it for the first down and four plays later hit Williams for 17 yards to put the ball inside the 10. Two plays later, Uiagalelei hit Briningstool on a 7-yard pass scoring pass to the front pylon, and the score was tied at 14-14 with 8:19 to play before the half.
Florida State continued to find success running the ball, but the Clemson defense forced a fourth down. The Seminoles elected to go for it on 4th-and-2 at the Clemson 31. Nate Wiggins knocked down Jordan Travis’ pass, and the Tigers took over on downs. Clemson turned that into a 12-play, 39-yard drive that ended with a 47-yard field goal from BT Potter, and the Tigers had their first lead of the game at 17-14.
The Seminoles got the ball back with 1:51 to play before the half. After moving the ball near midfield, Travis was stuffed for a two-yard loss on first down and, on second down, was sacked by Myles Murphy, who knocked the ball loose. Tyler Davis recovered the fumble at the FSU 42-yard line with 47 seconds left before the half.
Shipley took the first down handoff and burst up the middle for 36 yards, and two plays later, Uiagalelei went untouched for a five-yard score. With 19 seconds to go before halftime, the Tigers led 24-14.
Clemson began the second half much like it ended the first half.
Will Shipley took the kickoff 69 yards to the 31-yard line, and one play later, Uiagalelei found Davis Allen down the sideline on a reverse flea flicker to extend Clemson’s lead to 31-14 with 14:41 to play in the third quarter.
After forcing a three-and-out, Clemson got the ball back. Potter nailed a 34-yard field goal to cap an 11-play, 18-yard drive that took nearly five minutes off the clock to make it a 34-14 Clemson advantage with 7:32 to play in the third quarter.
After forcing a Clemson punt, in the fourth quarter, Florida State used plays of 22 and 25 yards to set up first-and-goal on the four-yard line. Two plays later, Travis found Ja’Khi Douglas wide-open in the endzone for a touchdown to cut Clemson’s lead to 34-21 with 9:22 remaining.
Florida State added a touchdown late to cut Clemson’s lead to 34-28 with 1:35 to play and forced the Tigers to recover an onside kick to seal the win.
Clemson hosts undefeated Syracuse for Homecoming next Saturday. The game will kick off at noon and be televised on ABC. Syracuse defeated NC State 24-9 to remain unbeaten.