FSU finishes strong

At times Florida State was its own worst enemy Thursday night, but the Seminoles came up big when it mattered most, and escaped a winner.

BLACKSBURG, VA – Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher spoke for more than a week about how difficult it would be to go into Blacksburg on a Thursday night and escape out a winner.

Despite its worst offensive performance of the season, that's exactly what the Seminoles did. FSU is now 9-1 and has all but punched its ticket to play in the ACC Championship game.

But it was not easy, and for the first 58 minutes of the game, it was not pretty.

Not only did FSU have to battle elements such as the weather and the crowd in addition to a hungry Virginia Tech team, but more importantly itself.

FSU was its own worst enemy, but when it came down to it, the Seminoles found a way to pull through, which in Fisher's opinion showed the character of his football team.

"After everything we went through, to come out of here with a victory on a Thursday night at Lane Stadium shows a lot of character in our football team," Fisher said. "It shows the character of our players, how they compete and how they believe in each other."

Florida State came out of the gates looking like a team on a mission as they went on a nine play 48-yard drive that resulted in a field goal by Dustin Hopkins giving the Seminoles an early three-point lead.

But from there, the Seminoles offense was rather anemic for the majority of the game.

Virginia Tech also got off to a strong start offensively as quarterback Logan Thomas connected with wide receiver Marcus Davis for a 54-yard completion on the first play from scrimmage for the Hokies. The completion was the longest play against the FSU defense since playing Clemson earlier in the season.

But the Seminoles defense responded and managed to hold the Hokies to a field goal.

FSU added another field goal in the first quarter after a Tyler Hunter interception, giving FSU a 6-3 lead.

It was a defensive battle, aside from another FSU field goal, until the stand still was ended when VT came up with a 68-yard drive that was capped off by a beautiful touchdown pass from Thomas to wide receiver Corey Fuller giving VT a 10-6 lead with just over two minutes remaining in the first half.

E.J. Manuel responded in a big way running the two-minute drill to perfection.

Despite only having 93 yards of offense through the first 28 minutes of the game, Manuel led FSU down the field on a five-play 71-yard drive that resulted in a touchdown for the Seminoles, giving them a 13-10 lead going to the half.

Manuel connected with Rashad Greene twice on the drive for big gains and the second one for a 25-yard touchdown.

The Seminoles came out in the second half and punted on its first drive, but after linebacker Vince Williams recovered a fumble in VT territory, Manuel took just five plays before he found wide receiver Greg Dent in the back of the end zone.

The 10-yard touchdown pass put the Seminoles ahead 20-10, and with the way it's defense was playing, put the Hokies in a deep hole.

But just as FSU did to end the half, VT responded to the challenge as Thomas led the Hokies down the field on an eight play 80-yard touchdown drive, cutting the lead to three.

The Seminoles maintained a three-point lead as both offenses seemingly hit a wall. That is, until midway through the fourth quarter when the Hokies defense came up with a safety, cutting the lead to one, and more importantly getting the ball back to the offense.

The safety was one of the most odd plays seen this year in college football. Running back Devonta Freeman took the handoff on the two-yard line and just as he was contacted in the end zone he tried to rid the ball by throwing it forward.

The errant throw resulted in an illegal forward pass and a safety for the Hokies, cutting the lead to one.

Four plays later Thomas had the Hokies threatening to score, but again the FSU defense responded by holding them to a field goal.

With Lane Stadium at its peak, FSU received the kickoff with just over two minutes left and down 22-20.

Then before the ‘Noles could even get a play off right tackle Menelik Watson was called for a false start, putting FSU in an even deeper hole.

But, from there Manuel had his biggest moment in a Seminole uniform as he led them down the field running the two-minute drill to perfection, again.

Then Manuel connected with Greene at midfield who took it 39 yards for the go ahead touchdown with just 40 seconds remaining.

VT tried to do what it could, but the FSU defense was just too much. Hunter made his second interception of the game and sealed the victory for FSU.

Fisher said afterwards that it was a game of adjustments, but FSU had the last laugh and came up clutch when it mattered most.

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