Just keep winning: FSU able to prevail despite shoddy conditions
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Heavy rains rolled through Tallahassee on Saturday afternoon, resulting in tough playing conditions for both Florida State and Boston College.
The Seminoles were able to battle through constant downpours and won 20-17 on a Roberto Aguayo 26-yard field goal with three seconds remaining on the clock. It was Aguayo's first game-winning field goal of his life, on any level.
"Not even Pop Warner," the Lou Groza Award winner said.
The victory comes on the heels of Thursday's campus shooting that rocked the Tallahassee community. A video message from new school president John Thrasher left an emotional crowd applauding Tallahassee's first responders and ready for the 3:30 p.m. kickoff.
"Again, a game is nothing compared to what happened the other day," head coach Jimbo Fisher said. "Our thoughts and prayers, our condolences go out to everyone. I think athletics is so big for your community. I don't know if we truly -- even me, who's been in it my whole life -- I really don't know if we really appreciate how much athletics really holds a community, universities, cities together, because they rally behind them so much.
"I'm glad hopefully we can give a little comfort to some folks that were really suffering."
Dropped passes, high snaps, lack of possessions (only nine for the game) and a rare missed field goal from Aguayo hampered the Seminoles throughout the game. But with the game tied 17-17 and less than five minutes on the clock, Florida State and quarterback Jameis Winston were once again able to find a way to win.
"We don't want to put ourselves in that type of situation," offensive linemen Cam Erving said. "But we know how to handle them, and we go out and execute"
Winston finished with 22 completions on 32 attempts, 281 yards, one touchdown and an interception, all while battling through an ankle injury that bothered him throughout the game.
"It was probably bothering me a little more today because of the turf," last year's Heisman Trophy winner said. "It was wet out there, so it was soft. But my ankle is fine. It's getting better."
The Eagles and their run-heavy offense were more equipped to handle the intense rains and showed it by rushing for 240 yards. The trio of quarterback Tyler Murphy and freshmen running backs Jon Hilliman and Marcus Outlow reeked havoc on the Seminoles defense. However, when Florida State needed it most the unit led by defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. got a stop that resulted in a missed field goal a play later.
"Defensively, bent didn't break," Fisher said. "They played much better in the second half. They did a good job."
Playing it close with the No. 3 team in the nation, the Eagles were unable to capitalize on an opportunity to pull ahead. In a postgame interview, Boston College head coach Steve Addazio made it clear that "close" isn't enough.
"We didn't come down here to lose this football game," Addazio said. "As we build this program, there is no way, shape or form are we going to take any solace on walking off this field saying 'wow we played them close.'
"Florida State is the No. 1 team in the country. Florida State is a hell of a team."
The Seminoles were able to kick a trend that had ailed them all season, as they took the game's opening drive down the field, resulting in a Karlos Williams 3-yard touchdown. It was their first opening-drive score since Oct. 11 in a win over Syracuse, and the 17-10 lead they carried into halftime marked the first time the Seminoles have led after two quarters in their past five matchups.
The Seminoles win streak is now 27 games, and they improved to 11-0 on the season. Whether another close game will affect their spot in the College Football Playoff rankings is yet to be seen. It's clear, however, Florida State's head coach believes the score doesn't matter, as long as you win.
"We're undefeated," Fisher said. "We finish every game. Everybody else in the country has not finished at least one game. We've finished every one of them. Isn't that the object?"