Florida State players could celebrate. And exhale. A win, at home, to savor after a difficult September.
Ryan Fitzgerald made a 34-yard field-goal attempt as time expired to lift Florida State to its first win of the season, 33-30 over Syracuse on Saturday. Syracuse called a timeout to try and freeze Fitzgerald, a redshirt freshman who was 3 of 5 on field-goal attempts this season.
“It was kind of nice, having them ice me,” Fitzgerald said. “It was another opportunity for me to visualize seeing that ball go through the uprights.”
When it sailed through the uprights, the Seminoles’ sideline erupted in celebration. Florida State (1-4, 1-2 ACC) won following the program’s first winless September since 1973.
Jordan Travis had runs of 33 and 25 on a drive in the final minute to set up Fitzgerald’s kick. Travis had 19 rushes for 113 yards as the Seminoles improve to 1-4, 1-2 ACC.
Travis completed 22 of 32 passes for 131 yards, including touchdown passes to Camren McDonald and Keyshawn Helton.
“Very proud of our football team,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “Nothing comes easy. It was a great day for our guys. So pleased about the work and the continued belief in what it takes. Still, some mistakes that showed up that we’re going to have to continue to build upon. Our players know that. We’re going to enjoy this one tonight.”
Garrett Shrader ran 16 times for 137 yards and Sean Tucker had 24 carries for 102 yards as Syracuse (3-2, 0-1) averaged 6 yards per carry.
Florida State’s defense bent but also held Syracuse to just 2 of 12 on third-down conversions. The Orange were also 0 for 3 on fourth-down conversions, including Kalen DeLoach and Sidney Williams’ goal-line stop in the third quarter — which proved to be a pivotal play in the game.
But FSU kept its record in tact vs. Syracuse, going 7-0 in the series in Tallahassee.
FSU scored in each quarter and made its share of plays, especially on the ground. Travis was 22 of 32 for 131 yards, two TDs and an interception.
Florida State put together a 17-play, 48-yard drive on its first drive. The Seminoles converted a pair of fourth-down opportunities and took seven minutes off the clock before Fitzgerald made a 35-yard field-goal attempt. It was the first time FSU scored first and the first time the Seminoles led after the opening quarter.
Travis connected with McDonald on a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter, extending FSU’s lead to 9-0. Travis put FSU in scoring position with a 20-yard run.
Travis also connected with Helton on a 14-yard touchdown in the second quarter. It was Helton’s first touchdown catch of the year.
FSU also put together touchdown drives for back-to-back weeks on the two-minute drill before halftime. Last week, it was McKenzie Milton orchestrating a quick drive and on Saturday it was Travis.
After Ontaria Wilson fumbled on a screen pass, Andrew Parchment picked it up and scored from about seven yards out to extend FSU’s lead to 23-13 with 8:48 remaining in the third quarter.
Jashaun Corbin had 14 carries for 65 yards. Treshaun Ward had two carries for 66 yards, including a 65-yard run. FSU had 247 rushing yards, averaging 6.7 yards per carry.
It was the fourth time in five games FSU has surpassed 200 rushing yards in a game. The Seminoles are now averaging 218.2 rushing yards per game.
McKenzie Milton was on the FSU sideline but did not play.
Missed tackles were a major problem on the day for the Seminoles. And despite the win FSU has given up 30 or more points in 10 of the 12 games vs. Power 5 teams under Mike Norvell and Adam Fuller.
Jermaine Johnson appeared to have Garrett Shrader wrapped up at the line of scrimmage, but the Syracuse quarterback broke free and ran 55 yards for the touchdown to cut the FSU lead to 9-6.
Shrader also had a 5-yard TD run, finishing a drive where the Seminoles were carved up on five plays over 60 yards. Missed tackles contributed to the Orange’s ease of moving down the field.
Jammie Robinson had nine tackles. Robert Cooper, Kalen DeLoach, Sidney Williams, D.J. Lundy and Robinson had seven tackles.
Fabien Lovett had his first career sack.
Keir Thomas had four tackles, including a fourth-down tackle for loss and a third-down shoestring tackle of Shrader.
Travis Jay did not play in the first half until he secured an interception on the Hail Mary right before halftime. This was Jay’s third career interception and his only play of the game.
Defensive back Kevin Knowles and defensive lineman Jarrett Jackson made their first starts.
Ontaria Wilson’s third-quarter fumbled punt return was costly but did not result directly in points by Syracuse. Wilson fumbled at the FSU 34, but the Orange were stuffed on fourth down at the goal line.
Fitzgerald missed an extra-point attempt attempt in the second quarter.
The announced attendance was 56,609, which includes tickets distributed.
This is FSU’s first walk-off win since a 23-17 win over Clemson in Sept. 2014, when Karlos Williams scored in overtime.
Among the players who were out: Meiko Dotson, Dennis Briggs, Malcolm Ray, Joshua Burrell.