MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — DeMarcus Walker blocked Miami kicker Michael Badgley’s point-after attempt with 1:38 remaining, and No. 23 Florida State escaped with a 20-19 victory over the 10th-ranked Hurricanes on Saturday night.
The Hurricanes were in position to tie it after Brad Kaaya connected with Stacy Coley on an 11-yard touchdown pass. Badgley had made 72 consecutive extra points, but the 6-foot-3 Walker got his arm outstretched just enough to knock away what would have been the tying point.
And just like that, in a series decided so many times over the years by Florida State field goals in critical moments sailing wide right and wide left, there’s now a block to add to the lore.
“That’s a Florida State-Miami game,” Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. “It’s great competition. Heck of a game.”
Dalvin Cook and Kermit Whitfield had touchdown catches in the third quarter to help the Seminoles beat Miami for the seventh straight time. Deondre Francois, who left in the first half after being shaken up, came back and ended up with 234 yards passing for Florida State (4-2, 1-2 Atlantic Coast Conference).
“My team needed me,” Francois said. “The trainers got me right.”
Cook finished with 150 yards rushing and had a 59-yard scoring catch to spark the Seminoles’ second-half surge, and Whitfield’s 20-yard catch on his 23rd birthday put Florida State ahead for good.
Coley caught a 21-yard touchdown pass from Kaaya to help Miami (4-1, 1-1) take an early 13-0 lead. But for the third straight year, the Hurricanes saw a second-half lead slip away.
Braxton Berrios set up Coley’s second TD catch with a punt return inside the Florida State 20.
“That return by Berrios gave us a lot of life,” Miami coach Mark Richt said.
It wasn’t enough.
Kaaya lost a molar in the third quarter when he took a helmet-to-helmet hit from Florida State’s Matthew Thomas, who was ejected for targeting — the second straight year a Seminoles player was tossed for targeting the Miami quarterback. And in the fourth quarter, Miami’s Jamal Carter was thrown out for a targeting hit against Whitfield.
Some Miami fans showered the field with debris at that point.
But in the end, it was a kick that decided everything — and the break went Florida State’s way.
“Guys fought their hearts out,” Richt said.
Florida State: Cook has two career touchdown catches — both against Miami. … The Seminoles lost safety Nate Andrews in the first quarter, who was hurt on a play where he tackled Miami’s David Njoku. … Florida State now has a pair of seven-game winning streaks against Miami, this other coming between 1963 and 1972. … The Seminoles are now 13-2 under Fisher when playing in NFL stadiums.
Miami: The Hurricanes went 281 minutes, 28 seconds this season without trailing. They came into the night as one of only two FBS teams who hadn’t faced a deficit this season, with Boise State now alone on that list. … Miami’s 1991 national championship team was honored at halftime. … RT Sunny Odogwu got hurt in the fourth quarter, on a drive where the Hurricanes allowed back-to-back sacks of Kaaya at a critical time. Odogwu was taken off the field on a cart after time expired.
Miami had a 13-0 lead over Florida State at home in 2014, and lost by four — with a missed short field goal and an extra-point miss being the margin that night. And the Hurricanes led 13-0 at home again in this one, only to see a kick decide the final margin.
Florida State lost games to Miami with key field-goal tries going “wide right” in 1991, 1992, 2000 and 2004, along with a “wide left” in 2002.
The second-longest active streak of AP Top 25 poll appearances will live on — since Florida State surely will hold a spot for the 76th straight week after this comeback win. Miami likely would have climbed a spot or two with a victory, though now the Hurricanes will drop several spots when the next installment of the poll comes out Monday.
Florida State: The Seminoles host Wake Forest on Oct. 15, looking for their fifth straight win in that series. Score of the last four matchups: 178-22, though last year was 24-16.
Miami: The next two games will likely decide Miami’s fate in the ACC Coastal race. North Carolina visits the Hurricanes on Oct. 15, five days before Miami goes to Virginia Tech.
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