Florida State came out on top in a hard-fought victory over Miami on Saturday night. The Seminoles got out to a fast start, leading 17-0, as the offense found a rhythm and the defense forced a turnover on three straight drives. However, the Hurricanes were able to get back into it and took a 21-20 lead on the first play of the fourth quarter. The advantage bumped up to 28-20 following a Tyler Van Dyke touchdown pass to Jaylan Knighton one possession later.
With their backs up against the wall, the Seminoles drove down into the red zone and settled for a field goal to the ire of fans. On the ensuing Miami possession, the defense forced a punt after just four plays to get the ball back. Jordan Travis came back out and delivered a 59-yard pass to Ja'Khi Douglas to move the offense into scoring territory. Travis would score the game-winning touchdown on a quarterback sneak with less than 30 seconds to play.
You could tell how much this game meant to both teams. Following the victory, Florida State's players rushed the field in celebration. Head coach Mike Norvell and Odell Haggins embraced at midfield. The early returns on recruiting have also been positive. There was a ton of talent in the stands to watch this one play out.
Here are three thoughts on the win.
1. Florida State's ability to fight is encouraging
Once again, the Seminoles faced a ton of adversity in a closely contested game. After sitting on the early 17-0 lead, FSU suddenly found itself trailing in the fourth quarter. Things got even tougher when a short pass to Jaylan Knighton turned into a touchdown after the running back ran over a Seminole defender and sprinted to the end zone. Couple that with the deflection that turned into a score in the third quarter and the team was clearly in a crucial moment. Would they lay down or step up?
The offense delivered a field goal while the defense locked Miami up. Down five, a big gain to Ja'Khi Douglas got FSU to scoring territory. However, there was no play more crucial than the one Andrew Parchment made over the middle on fourth and 14 to set up the game-winning touchdown. After a loaf earlier in the quarter, Parchment responded in the clutch.
Florida State started 0-4. Since then, they've gone 4-2 while showing a different mentality. Where they would previously lay down, now they punch back and there's clear confidence late in games.
2. Jermaine Johnson put his stamp on the rivalry
For a player who will only end up appearing in one rendition of the Florida State vs. Miami rivalry, Jermaine Johnson made sure to put his stamp all over this game. When you look back at the Seminoles victory in 2021, Johnson is the name you will remember.
The star defensive end recorded seven tackles, five tackles for loss, three sacks, and one forced fumble that led to a Florida State touchdown. He was all over the field the entire night. Whether it was sacking Van Dyke and forcing a fumble, sniffing out a jet-sweep for a loss of five, or bringing down a tight end short of the first-down marker to force a punt on Miami's second to last offensive drive, it was a dominant performance.
Johnson has been Florida State's anchor on defense all year but he saved the best performance of his college career for one of the most important games of the season. No other player in the history of the rivalry has ever recorded five tackles for loss in an FSU vs. Miami matchup.
3. The Seminoles are one step closer to taking back the state
Going into this game, Florida State had not beaten a rival in multiple years. The Seminoles had lost four straight to Miami and have dropped the last two to Florida. Beating rivals was something former head coach Willie Taggart was unable to do in Tallahassee which is part of why his tenure lasted less than two seasons.
This game makes careers and this game ends careers. Taggart was fired after his second loss to Miami in 2019 while Manny Diaz may be on the way out after his loss this weekend. On the flipside, head coach Mike Norvell and his coaching staff have furthered their legitimacy by coming out on top of the Hurricanes.
Make no mistake about it, despite the record of the two teams, this is a signature win that Florida State can work with on the recruiting trail. If they can beat Florida in two weeks, the state will be flipping back towards the Seminoles.
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