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RECAP: Florida State falls for the first time in 2022

The Seminoles came up short after a second-half rally against the Demon Deacons.

Saturday marked an opportunity for Florida State (4-1, 2-1 ACC) to continue its undefeated start in front of the home crowd in Tallahassee. Despite Hurricane Ian hitting parts of the state, there was still plenty of excitement as the Seminoles prepared for their first top-25 contest in more than four years against Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1 ACC).

Instead, it was the Demon Deacons who were the sharper team on both sides of the ball as Wake Forest pulled out a 31-21 victory. Florida State struggled to execute during key situations on offense, especially in the first half, and its injury-depleted defense couldn't hold up against quarterback Sam Hartman and a potent offensive attack.

The Seminoles opened the afternoon with a decisive touchdown drive capped off by Jordan Travis' connection with wide receiver Mycah Pittman in the end zone. The score marked Pittman's first so far in garnet and gold. Florida State's defense promptly responded by stopping Wake on its opening possession but the offense quickly went three and out.

From then on, the Demon Deacons dominated for the majority of the first half. Wake Forest's first drive of the game went just five plays for 11 yards. Over their next three drives, the Demon Deacons combined for 30 plays for 209 yards and 21 points to take a double-digit lead with 11:15 remaining in the second quarter.

Florida State drove into scoring position late in the first half behind a few runs and a catch from running back Treshaun Ward. With 1st and 10 at the Wake Forest 11, two short runs and an incompletion brought up fourth down. Instead of going for it, kicker Ryan Fitzgerald promptly pushed a 29-yard attempt wide right, which put the dampening touch on a poor opening 30 minutes from the 'Noles. 

The third quarter looked like it would bring much of the same result as the Demon Deacons marched right down the field for a touchdown drive. Once again, the defensive backs seemed lost while the pass rush wasn't making Hartman uncomfortable. 

After taking a 7-0 lead, Florida State suddenly trailed 28-7 in the second half. The Seminoles had an opportunity to mail it in, something we'd seen from this team for the past few years after dealing with adversity. But they didn't, they kept fighting for each other.

The offense scored on two of its next three possessions while the defense held Wake Forest to -6 yards over its next 9 plays. A touchdown pass to Johnny Wilson on a fade route and a two-point conversion promptly had Florida State back within a touchdown with 9:32 remaining in the game.

Alas, a tired and beaten-up defense couldn't stop Wake Forest with the game on the line. The Demon Deacons drove 66 yards in 18 plays to drain 6:37 off the clock. Florida State surrendered three third-down conversions on the drive as running back Christian Turner rushed 11 total times on the possession. 

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By the end of the game, the Seminoles' defense had allowed 405 yards of total offense, including 234 yards through the air and 171 yards on the ground. Wake Forest finished 10/18 on third down and 3/3 on fourth down despite Florida State's defense recording four sacks and nine tackles for loss. 

Safety Jammie Robinson led the 'Noles with 13 tackles and 1 quarterback hurry. Jared Verse, Patrick Payton, Joshua Farmer, and Kalen DeLoach all recorded sacks.

On offense, Florida State compiled 393 yards of total offense. Quarterback Jordan Travis completed 23 of 35 passes for 281 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions but he did lose a fumble. Running back Treshaun Ward led the ground attack with 13 carries for 87 while Johnny Wilson and Mycah Pittman each totaled 85 receiving yards.

Penalties were a killer for the Seminoles as they were flagged 11 times for 96 yards, including three in the final frame and two on the final drive. In comparison, Wake Forest committed 4 penalties for 40 yards. The penalty yardage is a season-high for Florida State through five games.

Florida State will look to bounce back from its first loss of the season on Saturday, October 8 when the Seminoles travel to North Carolina State.

READ MORE: Florida State crushes Boston College to remain undefeated

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