TALLAHASSEE | The streak is dead, and perhaps with it, Florida State’s season — at least in terms of the usual expectations.
The University of Miami rallied from behind twice on Saturday in the final 6:55 and defeated the Seminoles 24-20 on junior quarterback Malik Rosier’s 23-yard touchdown pass to back-up wide receiver Darrell Langham with six seconds left in front of 78,169 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The 13th-ranked Hurricanes (4-0, 2-0) snapped a record-tying seven-game losing streak against the Seminoles (1-3, 1-2) that began when FSU coach Jimbo Fisher replaced Bobby Bowden in 2010. Three Miami coaches were a part of that futility but it took a former ‘Noles assistant and former UM quarterback Mark Richt, to finally end it in yet another classic game in the oldest rivalry for both teams.
FSU led 13-10 and 17-13 in the fourth quarter — the latter margin on a 20-yard touchdown pass from freshman James Blackman to Auden Tate with 1:24 left — but Rosier took UM the distance twice on 75-yard two drives that broke a ‘Noles defense that had held the ‘Canes in check in the first half.
Rosier (19 of 44, 254 yards) completed 3 of 6 passes for 51 yards on the final drive, converting two third-and-10 plays with completions to Braxton Berrios (nine receptions, 90 yards).
With 11 seconds left and one chance to get to the end zone before a game-tying field goal attempt, Rosier lofted a pass down the right sideline to Langham, who had only three receptions all season entering the game. He beat FSU cornerback Tarvarus McFadden to the ball, then to the end zone, barely breaking the plane as his knee touched at the 1-yard line.
The play was reviewed, then upheld, and Miami was hit with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty when most of the players on its sideline stormed the end zone. UM kicker Michael Badgley, who had an extra-point attempt blocked last season to save a 20-19 FSU victory, had to kick off from his own 20 but made the tackle on Trinity Christian graduate D.J. Matthews after a 37-yard return.
Richt said Rosier performed when he was needed the most, completing 15 of 28 for 220 yards in the second half
“Our guys got in there and stepped up, and took care of business,” Richt said. “Malik’s numbers aren’t pretty but the stats really don’t matter. It’s making the plays.”
And as Fisher said, the Hurricanes had the last word.
“They made one more play and got the 1 inch that they needed to get the touchdown,” Fisher said. “I told the players, ‘there’s no reason to hang your heads. You played your tails off.’”
But nothing gets easier for the Seminoles, who now will be in a dogfight to even reach bowl eligibility after starting the season ranked third in the nation.
FSU plays at Duke next week, a team it has swept in 19 prior meetings. Winnable games follow against Boston College, Syracuse and Delaware State.
The Seminoles also have to play Louisville at home on Oct. 21, and go on the road to Clemson on Nov. 11 and Florida on Nov. 25. All of a sudden, the prospects of being 5-6 (which would be the first losing season since 1976) and missing a bowl trip for the first time in 35 years (the ‘Noles are tied with Nebraska for the longest post-season streak in NCAA history) are very real.
FSU players vowed they’d be back.
“We are not going to send the message across that we are quitters,” said linebacker Matthew Thomas. “Whatever happens, we have to fight.”
“We have to learn from our mistakes going forward and hold our heads high,” added defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi.
FSU, especially its secondary, harassed Rosier and his offense into an awful first half. UM had only 57 total yards and four first downs before the break, and Rosier was 4 of 16 for 34 yards. Seven FSU defenders batted down passes.
The Seminoles weren’t much better on offense but led 3-0 on Ricky Aguayo’s 27-yard field goal. They had success running the ball and freshman Cam Akers had his first 100-yard game with 121 on 20 carries, while Jacques Patrick had 91 yards on 11 attempts.
The Hurricanes tied the score on Badgley’s 31-yard field goal in the third quarter, then took a 10-3 lead when Berrios returned a punt 44 yards to set up his 21-yard touchdown receptions from Rosier.
Blackman, who had his first two career interceptions, bounced back to lead a drive that ended in a 15-yard TD pass to tight end Ryan Izzo less than three minutes into the fourth quarter to tie the game 10-10. The ‘Noles forced Miami’s fifth three-and-out of the game after that, and Blackman’s 18-yard pass completion to Nyqwan Murray and a 21-yarder to Tate set up Aguayo’s 38-yard field goal with 6:55 left to give FSU a 13-10 lead.
It was Aguayo’s 10th consecutive successful field goal.
Rosier then completed all four of his pass attempts for 57 yards on the next possession and hit Berrios on a quick slant with 5:09 remaining to regain the lead 17-13.
Blackman then completed 5 of 5 passes for 73 yards on the next drive, ending with his TD pass to Tate.