From a 28-6 deficit deep into the second quarter, the Florida State Seminoles stormed back to defeat the Ole Miss Rebels 45-34 at the Orlando Citrus Bowl Stadium in Florida.
Behind Chad Kelly's four touchdown passes, the Rebels looked to be storming toward victory, before the Seminoles rallied behind a 33-0 run to eventually move to 1-0 for the season.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Deondre Francois struggled in the first half before turning it around after half time to end the contest with 419 passing yards and a pair of TD's to give Jimbo Fisher's squad hope that they've unearthed another star of the future.
Kelly's arm helps Rebels storm into four touchdown lead
Right from the get-go, the Rebels offence laid down a marker in the game's opening possession. Following large chunk yardage plays through the air to A.J. Brown and Evan Engram, Damore'ea Stringfellow hauled in a slant from Kelly to cap a six-play 75-yard drive less than two minutes after kickoff.
Kelly was less successful on his next drive, getting picked off by Derwin Jones, and after a 23-yard reception by Dalvin Cook, Ricky Aguayo knocked over a field goal to cut the deficit to four after the Noles drive stalled inside the 10'.
The opening drive of the second quarter was almost identical to the first, with another big play to Engram setting the Rebels up deep in opposition territory. Kelly threw up a 50/50 ball to the corner of the endzone with his next pass, and an excellent tip by D.K. Metcalf helped him make the touchdown grab over the Seminole defensive back.
Engram was next into the endzone, after a busted coverage allowed him to pull in a Kelly pass as the Florida State defence looked to have no answer for the #11 ranked Rebels. Everything was going wrong for Jimbo Fisher, from defensive backs failing their assignments to both their defensive and offensive lines getting manhandled up front.
The Seminoles and Francois finally put together a good looking drive, but with their superstar Dalvin Cook on his way to a stroll-in touchdown, he inexplicably fumbled the ball out of bounds with no defenders in sight. The fumble cost Florida State four points after the Ole Miss defence held them to a field-goal, and when Akeem Judd ran into the endzone from 17 yards out on the ensuing drive, Hugh Freeze's Rebels were 28-6 up and seemingly on their way to a comfortable victory.
Seminoles embark on 33-0 run to turn game on its head
After looking unspectacular in the opening moments, Deondre Francois gave himself and the Noles a chance of getting back into the game just moments before half-time. Having conceded 11 penalties, not much had gone right, but when Francois hit Travis Rudolph over the middle with a 16-yard strike to cap a nine-play drive, Fisher's squad were within two scores going into the half.
A promising opening drive of the second-half ended with Aguayo knocking over his third field goal to trim the lead to 12, before Marcus Lewis flipped the field with an interception of Kelly.
On a broken play, Francois rushed for 30 yards to the two after choosing to keep the ball on a designed-option run, with full-back Freddie Stevenson barreling his way into the endzone two plays later to cut the gap to five.
Momentum was very much with FSU, and after Kelly fumbled the ball in his own territory, a couple of solid runs from Cook took the Noles to the three-yard line where Kermit Whitfield was fed the ball on a jet sweep, beating the defence to the pylon to secure the lead for the first time all night.
A third-quarter which ended with Florida State outgaining their opponents by 214 yards to -7 hadn't seen the end of the scoring yet, and after Ryan Izzo gained 30 yards on a play-action pass, the tight-end then caught the ball in the endzone two plays later to put the Seminoles 36-28 ahead.
Walker wrecks Rebels hopes with his own Orlando sack party, while Aguayo breaks school record on first start
One of the main reasons Ole Miss had minus-7 yards in the third quarter was DeMarcus Walker.
The defensive-end was quiet in the first half, racking up just one tackle, but when the Noles were in the midst of their 33-0 run, Walker began to dominate the Rebel O-Line.
His first sack led to the Kelly fumble just prior to Kermit Whitfield's go-ahead score in the third, with Walker then closing the quarter out with another takedown of the Ole Miss quarterback.
Back on offence at the start of the fourth, the Noles could only manage three points via the boot of Aguayo, and when Ole Miss put together a drive which saw Engram top 100 yards, and Van Jefferson haul in a touchdown pass, the lead was reduced to five.
That was as close as Freeze's unit got to a comeback of their own though, and behind Walker's dominant second-half which saw him tally 4.5 sacks the win was always headed back to Tallahassee.
There was still time for Aguayo to break a school record, and on his first start for FSU, the kicker broke a school record previously owned by his brother Roberto (now of Tampa Bay in the NFL). Nailing six field goals of varying length, Aguayo's 21-point haul meant that when Tarvarus McFadden handed Kelly his third interception of the night, Florida State could celebrate their first ever comeback victory from a 22-point margin.
Ole Miss will take out their disappointment with a home game in week two against Wofford, while Charleston Southern must find a way of shutting down Dalvin Cook, who quietly made 192 all-purpose yards on Monday night, when they head to Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.