ATLANTA, GA---With the steamroller known as the Clemson Tigers flattening the Miami Hurricanes earlier Saturday afternoon, the Florida State Seminoles needed a win over the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets to stay a half-game above their rival. The Yellow Jackets, who were riding a five game losing streak, were a 6.5 point underdog against their opponent who possessed a 28-game conference winning streak coming in.
"So the Seminoles would most likely march on, right?" Well, that's why they play the games!
From the get-go, college football fans could tell this ACC clash was going to be a low-scoring, "fight for every yard" kind of game. And with Georgia Tech's first drive, this point was exemplified as Justin Thomas was picked off while in his own territory by Josh Sweat. "Here we go again!" thought the home faithful. But surprisingly, Florida State, after Dalvin Cook rushed the ball from the 19 to the 2-yard line, was unable to punch the ball across the pylon, resulting in only three points.
Nevertheless, the Yellow Jackets had to keep the game close if they wanted to avenge their 2014 ACC Championship loss. So with the following in mind, Thomas drove Georgia Tech down field to tie the game at three.
However, another interception from the Junior quarterback, this time by Lamarcus Brutus, set the table once again for Everett Golson's Seminoles. And this time, Florida State did not squander their opportunity. Instead of being stuffed like earlier in the half, Dalvin Cook weaved and tiptoed his way into the end zone for the score.
Following another unproductive series of downs by Georgia Tech, Jimbo Fisher's squad found the ball in their hands once again.
Golson started the drive by advancing the ball 22 yards via a Kermit Whitfield reception, which moved the ball to Florida State's 46. Cook, pounding the ball for 27 yards on three carries, moved the Seminoles within field goal range before Golson stayed in the pocket and absorbed a brutal hit to convert a first down. Unfortunately for the Seminoles, they once again could not put the ball in the end zone, meaning Roberto Aguayo nailed another field goal with 4:18 left until halftime.
Oddly, just before recess, both offenses came to life. Starting at their own six-yard line because of penalty, the Yellow Jackets flew the ball down field quickly in large part to Thomas breaking free on a QB option for a 60 yards TD! 13-10 Florida State! Georgia Tech would have momentum going into the second half! Or, everyone thought that would be the case at the moment.
Because of a touchback, Florida State received the ball at their 25-yard line. Will that be a problem? No, not for Everett Golson! Golson finally gave Tallahassee a glimpse of his Notre Dame self by moving the ball 54 yards in 2 minutes and 16 seconds. For a touchdown? Unfortunately not, as the clock betrayed Florida State resulting in another field goal.
Coming out of halftime, Thomas and Georgia Tech continued to move the ball at a proficient pace. Similar to their opponent though, they too could not put six on the board. Therefore, the Yellow Jackets inched within three of Florida State, instead of taking a one point lead.
Then, with 8:33 left in the third, a fan's worse nightmare occurred. The game turned into a punting contest!
Besides a red zone interception by Golson, the teams combined to punt on four of their next five possessions.
Regardless of unproductive drives becoming contagious, Georgia Tech became immune at the right time, for they completed a fourth down and 6 prior to Harrison Butker nailing his third field goal attempt of the evening. The game was all tied up in Atlanta!
Thus, there was still 54 ticks on the clock for Everett Golson to do something magical.
Beginning with two Cook carries for eleven yards, the Seminoles advanced the ball to their own 36 prior to spiking it on first down. The next play, which had to be a pass due to Florida State only having one timeout, saw Golson drop back in the pocket and float a pass to Cook. And Cook, the bad man that he is, quickly maneuvered to not only pick-up the first down but gain 22 yards. First down! Golson rushed up to the line of scrimmage to spike the ball. Thud! 16 seconds remained on the Bobby Dodd Stadium scoreboard.
The Seminoles broke the huddle and came to the line, but before a second ran off the clock, a piece of yellow laundry flew on the field. The penalty (false start) was on Florida State, and consequently pushed field goal kicker Roberto Aguayo out of his range. Fortunately for the Seminoles, Golson made up for the penalty by finding Jesus Wilson for nine yards.
The field goal attempt would be 55 yards off the foot of Aguayo, who was perfect on the night and 12 for 14 on the season.
Lance Austin did it! Revenge in the heart of Atlanta! And with no time remaining!
While neither quarterback threw for a touchdown this evening, Florida State's Everett Golson put together a very solid stat line by throwing for 210 yards on 20 for 30 passing. On the ground, Seminoles' "Stud Sophomore" Dalvin Cook gathered a touchdown on 82 rushing yards as Georgia Tech's quarterback Justin Thomas had a game-high 88 rushing yards and a score of his own.
As heartbreaking as tonight's defeat is for the Florida State Seminoles, they will have no time to be overcome with self-pity considering they welcome a quality Syracuse team into Tallahassee before traveling to South Carolina to take on the undefeated Clemson Tigers. For Georgia Tech, losses to Duke, North Carolina, and Pittsburgh will end up keeping them out of the race for the ACC Coastal Division crown. Nonetheless, with four games remaining, the Yellow Jackets could use this upset victory to spur themselves to collect more wins and become bowl eligible.