Florida St. 19, Jacksonville St. 9
Florida State needed two scores in the final 35 seconds Saturday night to avoid arguably one of the most embarrassing upsets in school history.
Ty Jones’ 1-yard touchdown run with 35 seconds left put the Seminoles ahead of lower-division Jacksonville (Ala.) State and teammate Kevin McNeil returned a fumble for a score 21 seconds later to seal the 19-9 victory.
Trailing 9-7, Jones’ TD rallied the Seminoles and McNeil scooped up Ryan Perrilloux’s fumble and ran 33 yards for his score. McNeil also blocked a field goal try by Jacksonville’s Patrick Tatum in the third quarter that could have given the Gamecocks a 12-7 lead.
The visiting Gamecocks (0-2) took advantage of three Florida State turnovers to keep control of the contest until the final minute.
Florida State (1-1) hasn’t lost to a school in the Football Championship Subdivision since a 9-0 defeat to William & Mary in 1969.
The Seminoles were listless for much of the game, coming just five days after a 38-34 loss to archrival Miami. Florida State makes its first road appearance next Saturday for a date with No. 9 Brigham Young.
Christian Ponder’s 24-yard pass to Richard Goodman with 1:11 left in the game set up Jones’ go-ahead score. Ponder threw for a career high 324 yards, completing 22 of 35 passes without a touchdown or interception – teaming mostly with Goodman, who caught eight passes for 80 yards.
Perrilloux completed 12 of 27 passes for Jacksonville State for 213 yards and a first quarter touchdown that put the Gamecocks into a 6-0 lead.
Jacksonville State led 9-7 at the half on Tatum’s 37-yard field goal late in the second quarter.
Dustin Hopkins extra point kick gave Florida State a 7-6 lead with 1:25 left in the first quarter. Jones scored the touchdown on a 7-yard run that tied the game after Ponder teamed up with tight end Caz Piurowski on a 53-yard pass on play.
Florida State’s pass defense troubles were evident on Jacksonville’s opening drive as Perrilloux connected on a 28-yard touchdown pass with a wide-open Jamal Young. The extra point failed when the snap was mishandled.