Florida State vs. Florida score, takeaways: No. 16 ‘Noles survive Gators in rivalry’s highest-scoring game

No. 16 Florida State ended a three-game losing streak at Florida State on Friday night with a dramatic 45-38 victory behind quarterback Jordan Travis and a defensive victory in the final minutes of the game. Travis made big plays through the air and on the ground all night, and the Seminole defense had a fourth-down stop in the final minute as the Doak Campbell Stadium crowd roared.

Gators QB Anthony Richardson’s punt toward the end zone fell short with 39 seconds left, turning the ball over to Florida State and effectively ending the highest-scoring game in the history of the rivalry. The two plays on the final drive, the called fourth-and-18 against FSU that extended Florida’s comeback attempt, and the facemask on Richardson that wasn’t called on the aforementioned incomplete pass will be discussed for years.

Richardson made three layups in the first 21 minutes and the Gators took a 21-14 lead, but the redshirt sophomore made 11 straight layups. The third quarter was particularly consequential as Florida State went three-and-out against a Florida team that had not scored in the first half.

The win marks third-year Florida State coach Mike Norvell’s first competitive win, and Travis should be thankful for that. The redshirt junior threw for 270 yards and ran for 83 more yards and two scores. Trey Benson added three points for the Noles, who improved to 9-3 with the win.

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Travis runs wild

In a fast-paced game full of highlight plays, Travis’ rough runs came up several times. When the Seminoles trailed 21-14 and faced a third-and-10 from Florida’s 11-yard line in the second quarter, it looked like Florida was going to give Travis a big loss. But Travis managed to elude five different Florida defenders, including a pair who had more than one chance to bring him down, when he scrambled 18 yards behind the line of scrimmage. Finally, he slipped a few minutes short of the end zone and scored on the next play.

Then in the third quarter, Travis repeated the play in almost the same situation. Facing 3rd-and-11 from Florida’s 13-yard line, Travis dodged multiple tackles before sliding just short of the goal line. The play gave the Seminoles a first down and Benson’s touchdown to give FSU a 31-24 lead.

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Travis completed just 13 of 30 passes, but had a hand-to-hand pass late in the game. Facing a third-and-6 in the fourth quarter with the game tied at 38, Travis found Johnny Wilson for a 21-yard touchdown that allowed FSU to add the game-winning score.

Close with a blow

Florida State is off to a 4-0 start, ranking 23rd in the AP Top 25 in the process. Then came the trouble. The ‘Noles dropped three in a row as the Noles started to put pressure on Norvell after a poor run due to injuries. After back-to-back losses to start his tenure, they could be in contention for a third straight bowl game. But since a 34-28 loss at Clemson on Oct. 15, the ‘Noles have gone a perfect 5-0.

While some of that success has been consistent with the easing of the schedule, much of it has come from dominant designs. Entering Friday, FSU had won four games by 25 points or more. A dominant streak ended in a tight game against the Gators, while the Seminoles showed their improvement against a tough opponent on the national showcase field. With one bowl win, Florida State could finish with 10 wins for the first time since 2016, Jimbo Fisher’s year as coach.

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There is no receiver

Florida wide receivers Ja’Qavion Frazier, Xavier Henderson, Justin Shorter, Thai Chiaohiao-Bowman and Marcus Burke all missed the game with injuries, leaving Richardson with few targets in the passing game. In their absence, Richardson only passed to three players, with the returning Ricky Pearsall as his main target. With 11:35 left in the second quarter, the redshirt freshman completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to set a new home run. That was Richardson’s final performance with 4 minutes left in the game.

However, the Gators rallied from a 14-point deficit in the fourth quarter behind a strong offense. Trevor Etienne totaled 129 yards on 17 carries and ran for 45 yards with 7:41 left. Junior Monrel Johnson added 85 yards and a score on the ground, while Richardson ran for 41 yards. If the Gators can get their receivers healthy in their bowl game, their offense might be a lot less one-dimensional than it proved to be for much of Friday’s game.


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