CLEMSON, S.C. — Florida State produced electric offensive plays in the first half. The defense took its turn in the second half.
But it wasn’t quite enough to upset Clemson.
FSU (3-5, 2-3 ACC) saw its three-game win streak come to a halt as Clemson hung on for the 30-20 win. The Seminoles definitely had their chance to pull off the upset but could only capitalize on one of three second-half takeaways.
Will Shipley had a 21-yard touchdown run with 2:53 left to put Clemson ahead for good. Clemson (5-3, 4-2) added a late touchdown as FSU attempted a few laterals as time expired. The Tigers have won six straight games in the series.
Beyond Johnson’s electric play, which for a few minutes silenced Death Valley, Omarion Cooper had an interception and Amari Gainer had a fumble recovery. The takeaways, as well as Clemson’s three missed field-goal attempts, kept the door open long enough for FSU.
But FSU’s offense wasn’t able to do anything with the first two takeaways. The first ended quickly with a Treshaun Ward fumble. The second ended in a three-and-out. The third time, Johnson took care of it himself with a defensive play reminiscent of the first half of the 2013 game at Clemson. Only this time, there would be no FSU celebration.
“I’m really proud of the heart that our guys showed, the way that they continued to battle,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “There late, just too many mistakes. It was a good defense we were going against, we really struggled to consistently establish drives. We had some opportunities, but the negative plays, some of the penalties, being behind the chains, it was too much for us to overcome. There down the stretch, some self-inflicted (mistakes). We’ve got to give credit to them for what they did, but we’ve just got to continue to grow, continue to learn. Our guys, they showed tremendous heart, tremendous fight. I am proud of this football team, but we’ve got to play cleaner there at the end. At the end of the day, it’s just really disappointing.”
Lawrance Toafili had a highlight-reel 75-yard catch-and-run as part of some early fireworks fueled by big plays.
Clemson scored 30 points, the most it has done in regulation of a game against a Power 5 opponent.
The Tigers also extended their home win streak to 32 games.
FSU went into the game knowing there was a necessity to pick up some big plays. The Seminoles delivered and had 140 first-half offensive yards on five chunk plays, which included the 75-yard touchdown catch and run by Toafili. That’s the good news. The bad news is FSU had just 157 first-half yards, which means the Seminoles had 17 yards on those other 17 plays.
The Seminoles finished with eight chunk plays (15+ passing or 10+ rushing) for 191 yards, the majority of the team’s 241 offensive yards. FSU had just 50 yards on the other 48 plays.
The Seminoles managed just 81 second-half offensive yards until the final drive. FSU began to build a drive but Travis scrambled before being sacked deep in the Seminoles’ end with 1:40 left. FSU opted to punt instead of going for it on fourth-and-long.
Travis completed 11 of 17 passes for 177 yards.
The Seminoles’ running backs were held to 43 yards on 34 carries. Clemson’s six sacks for 39 yards contributed toward FSU’s low rushing total.
Jashaun Corbin had nine carries for 31 yards, while Treshaun Ward had five carries for 21 yards.
FSU had its full offensive line on Saturday. Dillan Gibbons started at left guard, Maurice Smith at center and Devontay Love-Taylor at right guard.
Florida State gave up 248 yards in the first half. The Tigers had 146 yards on six chunk plays, including a Phil Mafah 63-yard run. Will Shipley had runs of 22, 14 and 10 in the first half.
Missed tackles were an issue throughout the game, though. Clemson freshman Will Shipley ran 25 times for 128 yards and two touchdowns.
Akeem Dent was effective in pressuring Uiagalelei twice on third-down blitzes. Dent also had nine tackles.
DJ Lundy had 11 tackles.
Keir Thomas had 1.5 sacks, splitting one with Malcolm Ray.
DJ Uiagalelei completed 19 of 31 passes for 189 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown pass to Davis Allen.
Justyn Ross caught six passes for 85 yards.
Tommy Bowden and his family was introduced before the start of the second quarter on Saturday. A video message also featured Dabo Swinney speaking on Bobby Bowden. FSU also painted script “Bobby” on both sidelines.