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ACC Football: Seminoles rally past Hokies in Blacksburg
BY NATHAN WARTERS
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
THE FREE LANCE–STAR
BLACKSBURG—Virginia Tech talked all week about playing for pride and bowl eligibility after falling out of the race for the ACC’s Coastal Division.
That was almost enough for the Hokies against No. 8 Florida State on Thursday night.
Virginia Tech made a valiant effort but couldn’t make enough stops on defense or plays on offense to complete an upset bid in a heartbreaking 28–22 loss to the Seminoles.
FSU starting quarterback E.J. Manuel, a Virginia Beach native playing his first college game in his home state, passed for 326 yards and three touchdowns.
The Seminoles (9–1, 6–1 ACC) scored the game-winning points on Manuel’s 39-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Rashad Greene with 40 seconds remaining. Manuel then connected with tight end Nick O’Leary for the two-point conversion.
Virginia Tech (4–6, 2–4) reached the FSU 40 on its last possession but Hokies quarterback Logan Thomas, who finished with 298 passing yards and two touchdowns, was intercepted by Seminoles defensive back Tyler Hunter at the 30 with 27 seconds remaining.
Thomas was intercepted twice in the game and now leads the Football Bowl Subdivision with 14 picks.
The Hokies, who are now 7–31 against top 10 teams under head coach Frank Beamer, must win their final two games to reach a bowl game. The Hokies are guaranteed to finish the regular season at .500 or worse for the first time since 1992.
Virginia Tech went ahead 22–20 on Cody Journell’s 21-yard field goal with 2:19 remaining, but the Hokies’ defense, which was stout most of the game, couldn’t hold the lead.
The Hokies held the Seminoles to a season-low 311 yards and a season-low negative-15 rushing yards and sacked Manuel five times.
Florida State capitalized on a third-quarter Virginia Tech turnover to go ahead 20–10. Hokies wide receiver Marcus Davis lost a fumble near midfield and the Seminoles scored a short time later on Manuel’s 10-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Greg Dent.
Virginia Tech answered with touchdown on its next possession. Thomas completed passes of 44 and 14 yards to senior wide receiver Corey Fuller and then scored on a five-yard run to pull the Hokies to within 20–17.
Virginia Tech got even closer midway through the fourth quarter on a bizarre play by FSU tailback Devonta Freeman. Freeman tried to avoid a safety by throwing the ball forward, but he was penalized for an illegal forward pass, which resulted in a safety anyway and cut the FSU lead to 20–19.
Florida State scored on a 25-yard touchdown pass from Manuel to Greene with 48 seconds left in the first half and took a 13–10 lead into the break.
The Virginia Tech defense held the Seminoles to only two Dustin Hopkins field goals before the last-minute scoring strike.
The Hokies struggled offensively for most of the first half before putting together a touchdown drive late in the second quarter. Thomas connected on two big third-down passes to Fuller and then delivered a perfect four-yard fade pass over the shoulder of Florida State safety Lamarcus Joyner that Fuller caught near the right side of the end zone for a touchdown.
Virginia Tech held Florida State’s high-powered offense to only 161 yards in the first half, and the Hokies forced two turnovers that they failed to convert into points.
The Seminoles scored on their first possession on a 52-yard field goal by Hopkins.
The Hokies answered with a 35-yard Journell field goal on their first possession but then went five straight drives without a first down.
Florida State took a 6–3 lead at the beginning of the second quarter on Hopkins’ 45-yard field goal and that score stood until Thomas’ touchdown pass with 2:49 remaining in the second quarter.
Nathan Warters: 540/374-5442