Florida State was staring at an 0-3 start for the first time since 1976 — over four decades ago when the Bobby Bowden era was just getting started.
Then, just when the team needed its lackluster passing game to come alive most, the Seminoles snatched a victory from the jaws of defeat to stun Wake Forest and escape on the road with a 26-19 victory that was the team’s first of the season.
Outside of his final pass, freshman quarterback James Blackman would probably like to forget his first road start behind center after throwing for just 121 yards on 11 completions (including just 31 entering the final quarter). On his final drop back however, the young signal-caller looked like a capable veteran and lobbed a perfect pass into the hands of Auden Tate for what proved to be the game-wining touchdown pass.
The Seminoles couldn’t get much going offensively prior to that surprising final drive otherwise, and needed some heroic efforts from Jacques Patrick (120 yards, one touchdown rushing) and fellow tailback Cam Akers (58 yards on the ground) to move the ball at all most of the afternoon.
Though mistakes and injuries along the offensive line played a role in those struggles, give credit to the Deacs’ defense for being stout at the line of scrimmage and making life difficult at the backend as well. They recorded a school-record with 17 (!!!) tackles for loss and sacked Blackman five times. Despite a generally impressive outing, everybody in Winston-Salem will be talking about the lapse that allowed the final touchdown from 40 yards out.
The effort overshadowed an efficient performance by quarterback John Wofford after he threw for 271 yards and was the team’s leading rusher with 63 yards on the ground and Wake’s first touchdown. Were it not for two turnovers on the day, it’s probably safe to say that the team wouldn’t even have been in a position to lose a game like that.
But they were and suffered a devastating last-minute loss that prevented a 5-0 start for the first time at the school in over a decade. We’ll see if a win like that can help jump-start Florida State ahead of their big rivalry game against Miami next week but it’s safe to say that both sides will head home tonight wondering about what could have been, and what was, after a wild ACC game.