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Five plays that changed the game: FSU vs Jacksonville State

A closer (and final) look at the worst loss in program history.

The rewatch of the Florida State vs Jacksonville State game can be summed up in one word - painful. In this week’s ‘5 Plays That Changed the Game’ we narrowed down a handful of plays that led to the shocking 20-17 loss for the Seminoles.

As I rewatched Saturday’s game I sat there and thought, how did we get here? How is Florida State in a dogfight with an FCS team? I expected FSU to come out a little sluggish on a short week and after such an emotional game vs Notre Dame. What I didn’t expect was the result of the contest, and what I didn’t expect was a litany of plays that showed poor concentration, effort, and just flat-out terrible play.

As a reminder, we will not be including scoring plays as those are sure-fire game-changers. We want to look at the plays within those drives that led to the worst lost in Seminole history. Let’s get after it!

1. Keyshawn Helton drops a wide-open touchdown

This has to be first. It’s FSU’s opening drive with a lively crowd. The 'Noles are stopped short on 3rd down, leading them to go for it in plus territory. FSU lines up 3 wide, and there is no one on Helton.

The linebacker is lined up off coverage and the safety is playing more center field and 12 yards off. Helton gets a free release and blows by the safety who is slow to get over. With about 8 yards of separation, he drops an absolute dime by McKenzie Milton which would have been a big play for six.

A touchdown would have put immediate pressure on Jacksonville State and made a loud crowd even more amped up. Big-time players make big-time plays - this one was a killer

2. Kalen Deloach Targeting

This play capped off just an awful drive by the FSU defense, one that was aided by three defensive penalties. Despite a pass interference by Jarrian Jones and a defensive holding call on Jarvis Brownlee, the Seminoles were able to force JSU into a 3rd and 18 at their 38 yard line.

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What was thought to be a game-clinching interception by Brownlee was negated by Deloach’s targeting call. JSU would go on to score two plays later with five minutes left in the game. Situational awareness!

3. Corbin can’t convert 3rd and 1 with 1:36 left

All night, Jashaun Corbin was killing the JSU defense. FSU ran a few ace sets which resulted in chunk plays during the game. One would've thought that the 'Noles would go back to this to convert the 3rd down and pull out the game despite the poor play. Instead, the offense lined up in the wildcat - a play that didn’t work well all night.

FSU looked to get the ball to Corbin quickly but he had to wait for the block from Wyatt Rector to come over. On top of that, the line gets blown back. When you aren’t a threat to throw at all this is what happens - stopped short and having to punt. I hated the call and it led to the end result.

4. 3rd Quarter illegal man downfield on Jordan Wilson

Florida State’s defense was hot in the 3rd quarter. On back-to-back drives for JSU, the Seminole defense held them to 6 plays for minus 16 yards. There was a lot of momentum in FSU’s favor when it took the punt and drove 40 yards very quickly.

After a 17 yard pitch and catch with Darion Williamson, FSU went right back to him for no gain. Jordan Wilson was called for an illegal man downfield which put the offense in a 1st and 15 situation. The 'Noles would have three straight plays for no gain, settling for a 53-yard field goal by Ryan Fitzgerald.

5. FSU can’t convert at the goalline

FSU had a chance early in the 4th quarter to go up 24-7 and ice the game. Following a roughing the passer penalty on 3rd and 20 that kept the drive alive for the 'Noles, the offense was able to get the ball inside the 10. After a false start by Dontae Lucas, FSU gets to 3rd down after a questionable personnel call running Lawrance Toafili in a goal-to-goal situation.

A 4th down fade pass to Malik McClain is called incomplete and the drive stalls out at the 3 yard line.