At the 11:52 mark of the third quarter, it appeared No. 17 Miami was headed for the most frustrating loss of the Mark Richt era. Florida State wasn’t putting much offense together, but the ‘Noles didn’t need much offense — they used a punt return touchdown, another long punt return, a fumble and an ill-advised fourth down attempt to build a 27-7 lead.
But Miami stopped stepping on its own feet and stomped on Florida State, as the Hurricanes stormed back for a 28-27 win.
The comeback started when Sheldrick Redwine sacked Deondre Francois and forced a fumble, handing the Hurricanes the ball at the FSU 20. N’Kosi Perry hit Lawrence Cager for a touchdown pass on a 4th-and-goal from the three to pull Miami back within 27-14; both of Miami’s first touchdowns came on fourth down passes to Cager.
After the score, Miami (5-1, 2-0 ACC) continued making trouble for Florida State inside Seminoles territory when Michael Pinckney stepped in front of a Francois pass at the FSU 22.
Miami again capitalized on a short field, as Perry needed only one play to hit Jeff Thomas for a 17-yard score and pull the ‘Canes within 27-21 at the 4:17 mark of the third quarter.
After a pair of punts, Florida State (3-3, 1-3 ACC) had a chance to push its lead back to two scores but a 45-yard double pass touchdown was called back upon review for an illegal forward pass, turning a 34-21 lead into a 2nd-and-12. The ‘Noles moved into field goal range, but Ricky Aguayo — good from 42 and 53 yards in the first half — missed a 43-yard try at the 12:42 mark of the fourth quarter.
Another Florida State mistake immediately led to more Miami points, as Perry found Thomas for a gain of 32 yards and then Brevin Jordan for a 41-yard scoring strike, his fourth of the day, giving Miami the lead with 11:52 remaining.
Florida State possessed the ball three times after falling behind 28-27, but all three possessions ended in three-and-outs.
Miami could have added to the lead after obtaining a 1st-and-goal from the 1, but Richt chose to kneel away the final minute rather than punch in another score.
Francois passed for just 129 yards on 30 attempts (15 completions), and the ‘Noles mustered just 70 rushing yards on 33 attempts. The Seminoles gained just 14 first downs and were 5-of-16 on third down, in addition to the two crucial turnovers and the killer penalty.
Perry, meanwhile, completed only 13 of his 32 passes, but those 13 completions went for 204 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions.
The win extends Miami’s all-time lead to 33-30 and hands the Hurricanes consecutive wins over their upstate rivals for the first time since taking six straight from 2000-04.