It was a wild ending, but it was well worth it for the Florida State Seminoles.
With starting quarterback Jordan Travis nursing a left shoulder injury in the fourth quarter and No. 5 North Carolina staging a furious rally, the FSU football team found a way to make a late fourth-down stop and knock off the visiting Tar Heels, 31-28.
Florida State led the entire way, but the Seminoles were shut out in the second half and watched as North Carolina erased most of a 24-point halftime deficit.
In the end, head coach Mike Norvell got a Powerade bath from his players for recording the biggest win of his first season as Florida State’s head coach.
FSU improves to 2-3 overall and 1-3 in the ACC, while North Carolina falls to 3-1.
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Box Score: FSU 31, No. 5 UNC 28
FSU got off to a great start early when freshman Ja’Khi Douglas blocked a North Carolina punt deep in UNC territory, and Travis scurried in on the next play for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Seminoles a 7-0 lead. Then the Seminoles really hit the gas in the second quarter.
After Ryan Fitzgerald kicked a chip shot field goal to put the Seminoles ahead by 10, Travis plunged in from 1 yard out on a quarterback sneak to give them a 17-0 advantage with 3:29 remaining in the first half.
Defensive end Joshua Kaindoh then intercepted a pass by UNC quarterback Sam Howell three plays later and returned it for a touchdown. And after the Seminoles and Tar Heels traded late touchdowns, FSU went into halftime with a 31-7 lead.
The Seminoles had a chance to extend their advantage early in the third quarter after sophomore tailback La’Damian Webb broke off a 54-yard run down to the North Carolina 3-yard line. The drive stalled, however, when offensive lineman Dontae Lucas was flagged for a personal foul, and Fitzgerald then missed a 33-yard field goal.
North Carolina suddenly found new life after that squandered opportunity by the ‘Noles and cut FSU’s lead to 31-21 just before the end of the third quarter.
The Tar Heels then sliced the deficit to 31-28 on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Howell to receiver Dyami Brown with just under five minutes remaining. But Florida State was able to get a fourth-down stop in the final minute to secure the victory.
Jordan rushed for 107 yards and passed for 191 to pace the Florida State offense, while Webb added 109 yards on 12 carries.
Howell, a one-time Florida State commitment, completed 20 of 36 passes for 374 yards with three touchdowns and one interception. The Tar Heels racked up 558 yards of offense in the loss.
Florida State returns to action next Saturday at Louisville.
Talk about this story with other Florida State football fans in the Tribal Council