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Five Plays that Changed the Game: Florida State at North Carolina

We identify five plays that made the difference during the Seminoles' win in North Carolina.
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Florida State got its second win in a row this past Saturday against ACC foe North Carolina. It was the first time since weeks 4 and 5 of the 2019 season that FSU has had back to back conference wins. In this week’s ‘Five Plays that Changed the Game’, we look at the moments that led to the Seminoles 35-25 win.

As we’ve discussed this past week on this website, there was a lot to like about the performance FSU turned in on the road as 17 point underdogs in Chapel Hill. It’s arguably the best effort we’ve seen under Mike Norvell and his staff, and it showed a lot of progress from just a few weeks ago.

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Here are the plays that tilted the game in FSU’s favor. As always we will not include scoring plays, just the plays inside the scoring drives that had the most impact on the game.

1. Jarrian Jones Makes a Big Play in the End Zone

After getting down 10-0 early in the game, Florida State was able to battle back quickly, going up 14-10 midway through the second quarter. North Carolina was driving down the field again looking to take the lead when Sam Howell looked to hit his guy in the endzone for the go-ahead score. Jones had other thoughts and made a fantastic play on the ball. He stayed in phase and was able to get his head around to make the play. FSU scored on the next drive and they didn’t look back.

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2. Keyshawn Helton Snags a Ball on the Sideline 

While Helton has had his ups and downs in 2021, the game against Carolina was one of the best games he’s had so far this season. FSU, up 28-17, was looking to put the game out of reach towards the end of the 3rd quarter. On 3rd and 12 from their own 45, Jordan Travis hit Helton on the sideline. Helton made a great grab, getting both feet down and extending the drive for the 'Noles. Ontaria Wilson would score four plays later.

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3. Travis Pulls the Ball, Converts a 3rd Down 

Early on in the game, FSU was hitting the RPO hard. There were a few plays where Jordan Travis should have pulled the ball instead of giving it to the back. On 3rd and 1 from North Carolina’s 39 yard line, Travis read the end correctly, who crashed down hard, taking himself out of the play. Jordan was able to gain 7 yards on the play. With the Tar Heels reeling Travis hit Wilson on a 32 yard strike on the next play to go up 21-10.

4. FSU Defense Makes a Play on 4th and Goal 

North Carolina was still fighting early on in the 4th quarter down 35-17. On 4th and goal, Coach Fuller called a stunt which forced Sam Howell out of the pocket and forced him to attempt to throw the ball in the endzone. Kier Thomas and Robert Cooper stunted, and Kevin Knowles was able to break up the pass in the endzone.

5. Treshaun Ward Ices the Game 

With 1:48 left in the game Treshan Ward, the nation’s top-rated runner according to PFF, had a highlight run that was simply all effort. FSU was clinging to a 10 point lead and they were looking to convert a first down to kill the clock. In a game where the Tar Heels struggled to stop FSU’s run game, they sold out on the run which allowed them to collapse the pocket and get behind the line rather quickly. Ward spun, made the first guy miss, and proceeded to break five tackles on a 10 yard run that ended the game. 

READ MORE: Florida State's Treshaun Ward ranked as top running back in the country

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