TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Nick Weiler connected on a 54-yard field goal as time expired to lift North Carolina to a 37-35 victory over No. 12 Florida State at Doak Campbell Stadium.
UNC broke a 28-28 tie with 2:31 to play when Mitch Trubisky connected with Thomas Jackson for a 34-yard touchdown pass. Weiler’s extra point was blocked, setting up Florida State’s 9-play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead at 35-34 with 23 seconds to play.
Trubisky needed just 19 seconds to march UNC 38 yards in three plays, setting up Weiler’s game-winner.
Trubisky’s Stat Parade Continues
Trubisky completed 31-of-38 passes for 405 yards and three touchdowns without an interception. He also rushed for a four-yard touchdown.
The junior quarterback has completed 133-of-175 passes for 1,711 yards and 13 touchdowns without an interception through five games this season.
Larry Fedora entered Saturday’s cross-divisional contest with a 2-8 record at UNC against AP Top-25 opponents. Those wins came against No. 25 Duke in 2014 and No. 23 Pittsburgh in 2015. He lacked a hat-hanger, the kind of win that removes any doubt about a coach’s ability to elevate his team to beat elite competition. This upset of Florida State provides that signature win.
Bending Before Breaking
Florida State churned out 47 rushing yards on its opening four plays before UNC’s defense stiffened and forced a field goal attempt that missed wide. A similar pattern repeated over the Seminoles’ next three possessions as they worked their way effortlessly into Tar Heel territory before failing to score each time.
Florida State averaged 7.7 yards per play and rolled up 184 total yards of offense on those first four possessions. Those drives resulted in two missed field goals, a blocked field goal and a punt.
UNC led 21-0 by the time FSU’s fifth possession began.
The Tar Heels were not as effective over FSU’s next five possessions, not including the final snaps of the first half. The Seminoles averaged 7.8 yards per play and rolled up 367 total yards of offense on that set of drives, scoring touchdowns on each.
The third phase was the game-changer for the Tar Heels. After Jeremiah Clarke blocked Ricky Aguayo’s second field goal attempt of the day, Andre Smith picked up the loose ball and returned it 38 yards to midfield. Late in the third quarter, however, UNC’s punt block attempt resulted in a roughing the punter penalty. FSU picked up the first down and scored a touchdown 12 plays later.
Weiler’s kicks, both the block and the game-winner, provided theatrics in the closing minutes.
UNC’s 21-point lead marked the largest home deficit by Florida State since a 45-15 loss to Florida on Nov. 29, 2008.
Early in the third quarter, the Tar Heels faced a 3rd-and-7 from their own 28 after Florida State had gotten defensive stops on consecutive possessions to pull within 21-14. Trubisky capitalized on a busted coverage and found Austin Proehl running free down the left sideline for a 44-yard pass play. UNC scored six plays later when Trubisky connected with Mack Hollins for a 15-yard touchdown pass.
UNC was a 10.5-point underdog at Florida State in 2010 and won 37-35. The Tar Heels were also a 10.5-point underdog on Saturday and won by the same margin.
UNC returns to Kenan Stadium to face Virginia Tech and first-year head coach Justin Fuente. The Hokies are 3-1 (1-0 ACC) and are coming off a bye week.