Hurricanes defeat Seminoles at home for first time since 2004

By: Matt Bernanke
Linebacker Michael Pinckney flexes and shows off the Turnover Chain to the 65,490 fans at Hard Rock Stadium. The Hurricanes rallied from a 20-point deficit to defeat the Florida State Seminoles, 28-27, Oct. 7. It was the Hurricanes' first victory in Miami since 2004.

Florida State appeared to have buried No. 17 Miami. The Hurricanes trailed 27-7 with 11:52 remaining in the third quarter after a 74-yard punt return touchdown by the Seminoles’ D.J. Matthews.

Then it happened.

Miami forced three turnovers and scored 21 unanswered points including a game-winning, 41-yard touchdown pass from N’Kosi Perry to Brevin Jordan to defeat Florida State, 28-27, Saturday, Oct. 6 in front of a raucous 65,490 fans at Hard Rock Stadium.

“No one lost heart,” Hurricanes coach Mark Richt said. “There’s no doubt Florida State created doubt in everybody’s minds…But nobody gave in. It just took a spark and that spark turned into a flame and we got the lead and we found a way to finish the game.”

The victory was Miami’s first win at home over Florida State since 2004, snapping a six-game losing skid. The Hurricanes have won back-to-back meetings and lead the all-time series 33-30.

“During halftime, Jaquan Johnson and all of us let each other know that we needed a turnover,” linebacker Michael Pinckney said. “That chain has powers. Tonight was a testament of that. It was just momentum, the change in the game. Once that chain came out, things started to turn around and we had the opportunity to do something great.”

First, safety Sheldrick Redwine bolted through Florida State’s offense line and stripped quarterback Deondre Francois. Fifth-year senior Gerald Willis III scooped up the loose ball to ignite the Hurricanes’ sideline.

“That was huge because we needed that chain to get us going,” said defensive lineman Joe Jackson, who tied a career-high with two sacks. “That changed our momentum in a huge way, and in these game, momentum will take you far.”

Perry connected with Lawrence Cager for a 3-yard receiving score, cutting the deficit to 27-14 with 4:53 remaining in the third quarter.

Two plays later, the Hurricanes’ defense struck again.

Pinckney picked off Francois to set up Miami’s offense inside Florida State’s redzone.

With one throw, Perry pulled the Canes within one possession. The redshirt freshman quarterback found standout receiver Jeff Thomas—who battled a knee injury throughout the game—for a 17-yard touchdown grab.

Miami (5-1, 2-0 ACC) scored two touchdowns in a 42-second span, jumpstarting the elated Hurricanes faithful onto their feet.

UM took its lone lead of the night when Perry heaved a 41-yard touchdown to Jordan over the top of the Seminoles’ defense.

“The one to Brevin, that was the perfect look, the perfect play call for the defense they were in and it worked out perfect,” Perry said.

By Josh Halper
N’Kosi Perry surveys the field during Miami’s 28-27 win over Florida State. The Hurricanes overcame a 20-point deficit for their first home victory against the Seminoles since 2004. Josh Halper // Contributing Photographer

The Ocala, Florida, native finished his second career start 13 of 32 for 204 yards and four touchdowns.

“I didn’t ever get down on myself,” Perry said. “I know I missed a couple open targets, but at the half I wasn’t pouting, I was smiling because I know I make those throws every day. It wasn’t anything I couldn’t come back from.”

Francois, who threw for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the first half, just tallied 20 yards after the intermission. The redshirt junior completed 15 of 30 passes and notched two touchdowns and one interception.

The Seminoles (3-3, 1-3 ACC) seemed to regain the lead with a 39-yard touchdown early in the fourth quarter, but the officials called back the scoring sequence, flagging Matthews for an illegal forward pass on a trick play.

“He threw it in front of him,” said FSU coach Willie Taggart, after seeing the video replay. “I thought it was good.”

Miami held Florida State to 200 yards and finished with six sacks, 12 tackles for loss and two forced fumbles. Preseason All-American safety Jaquan Johnson — who returned after missing two games with a hamstring injury — registered a team-high 10 tackles.

“It feels amazing, especially with the slow start we had and rallying in the second half to get the W,” Johnson said.

The Hurricanes next play on the road against the Virginia Cavaliers, 7 p.m. Oct. 13 at Scott Stadium.