N’Kosi Perry threw four touchdown passes, and No. 17 Miami pulled off its biggest comeback ever against Florida State by rallying from 20 points down to top the Seminoles 28-27 on Saturday night.
Brevin Jordan’s 41-yard touchdown grab with just under 12 minutes left put the Hurricanes (5-1, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) ahead for good, as Miami rallied from a 27-7 second-half deficit.
The win was Miami’s first at home over Florida State (3-3, 1-3) since 2004, snapping a six-game slide in South Florida against its archrival.
Perry’s numbers weren’t great — 13 for 32, 204 yards — but he made some big throws when they mattered most. The go-ahead score to Jordan came one play after Perry threaded a 32-yard throw to Jeff Thomas on third-and-10, meaning in the span of about a half-minute the Hurricanes went 73 yards for the lead.
Deondre Francois completed 15 of 30 passes for 129 yards with two touchdowns and an interception for the Seminoles, who were held to 200 yards of offense. He’s been in three games at Hard Rock Stadium, winning two, and all three decided by exactly one point.
D.J. Matthews tiptoed down the left sideline early in the third quarter for a 74-yard punt return touchdown, putting Florida State up 27-7. And the Hurricanes got booed off the field on their ensuing possession, the volume of those jeers rising when a draw play got called on third-and-16 as a prelude to a punt.
The Hurricanes looked finished.
And then, in a flash, they weren’t.
“Florida State came in here and took control of this game,” Miami coach Mark Richt said. “We found a way to fight back … somehow, we gutted it out.”
Miami striker Derrick Smith got ejected for targeting, and one play later, the tide somehow turned the Hurricanes’ way. Gerald Willis III picked up a fumble to set up a 20-yard drive where Perry connected with Darrell Langham on a fourth-down throw for a touchdown. Francois was intercepted two plays later, and the Hurricanes cashed in on their next snap when Perry and Jeff Thomas hooked up for a 17-yard score.
Just like that, 27-7 became 27-21. And when Ricky Aguayo missed 43-yard field goal with 12:42 left, the Hurricanes were still within one score.
That’s the drive when Perry went to Thomas on third down, Jordan one play later, and after a more than four-hour game — and 14 years — Miami could finally celebrate a home win over the Seminoles again.
It was the third straight FSU at Miami game where someone wasted a double-digit halftime lead.
Florida State rallied from 10 down at the break in 2016.
The Seminoles did it again from 13 down at the half in 2014.
This time, they were up by 13 — 20-7, and then tacked another touchdown on for good measure.
And somehow, Miami found a way out of the hole.
“We did enough to win,” Richt said.
Florida State: FSU gets to ruminate on this collapse over its bye week, then has Wake Forest, Clemson, North Carolina State, Notre Dame, Boston College and Florida left on its regular-season slate. Getting three wins out of those games and becoming bowl-eligible won’t be easy.
Miami: The Hurricanes hadn’t beaten Florida State in consecutive seasons since 2003 and 2004, and still control their destiny in the ACC Coastal Division race. A fourth-and-1 carry for a first down by Trayone Gray with 2 minutes left basically sealed the win for the Hurricanes, who will be without Smith for the first half of next week’s game at Virginia, after he was ejected for targeting with 7:02 left in the third quarter.
The Hurricanes’ 23-week streak — the ninth-longest active run in the country — won’t be ending on Sunday. Florida State will remain unranked, and faces a very tough climb back toward the poll at any point this season.
Perry was the 43rd quarterback to start a game in this rivalry in the last 40 years. Those first-timers are now 22-21, and for the first time there have been four consecutive QBs to win their FSU-Miami debuts. Perry joins Miami’s Malik Rosier in 2017, Francois in 2016 and FSU’s Everett Golson in 2015 on that list.
Florida State: Host Wake Forest on Oct. 20
Miami: At Virginia on Oct. 13
Source: The Associated Press