Florida State took winning ugly to a new level on Saturday. The Seminoles won abysmal, benefitting from BC’s penalties while surviving two costly turnovers.
Not good. Not with a showdown at Clemson up next. But for now, good enough.
Jordan Travis threw a pair of touchdown passes, one each to Jaheim Bell and Preston Daniel, as the No. 3 Seminoles defeated Boston College 31-29.
“It wasn’t a lack of work, it wasn’t a lack of investment. Lack of execution,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “… This is something we’ll learn from as a football team. We’re going to continue to push, we’re going to continue to improve and I’ve got a lot of confidence in what this team will do and how they will bounce back from what we just saw.”
BC had not beaten a top-5 team since Nov. 2002, but the Eagles put quite the scare into the Seminoles.
FSU makes most of few possessions in first half
FSU (3-0, 1-0 ACC) had just three first-half possessions, scoring a field goal and two touchdowns. The Seminoles were efficient in driving 61 yards (field goal) and then 75 yards and 70 yards (touchdowns) to take a 17-10 lead at the half.
There was plenty to like on offense early, as Travis finished drives with a 19-yard touchdown pass to Jaheim Bell and then Trey Benson running two yards for a touchdown.
With both team constructing long drives as a result of third- and fourth-down conversions, there weren’t that many opportunities. But the Seminoles, despite settling for a field goal on the first drive, did generate 17 points on three drives. And FSU scored on five of its first six drives, not counting a kneel down to end the half.
Lundy swings game with INT and touchdown
Top this, Travis Hunter: DJ Lundy intercepts Castellanos while he essentially laying down, an athletic pick on a day when the defense needed stops. Or a takeaway. And in this case, it was Lundy’s first college interception.
Then the Seminoles drive down to the goal line and Lundy gets the call. His run up the middle is initially stopped, but his second effort and push to the right get him into the end zone. Lundy now has three rushing touchdowns in his career, with a fun stat line: four rushes, three yards, three touchdowns.
Lundy has been criticized plenty throughout his career, mostly for what he isn’t. He was always a little too big, a little too slow. And he still struggles in pass coverage, as do most of FSU’s linebackers. But he has slimmed down. And now an interception and a touchdown? That’s a memorable sequence for Lundy, who finished with four tackles and a half sack on Saturday.
Defensive struggles on third and fourth downs
FSU’s defense had been very, very good in forcing third- and fourth-down stops. Coming into Saturday, the Seminoles allowed LSU and Southern Miss to convert on just 6 of 23 (26.9 percent) of third-down tries. And FSU had made stops on all four attempts by the Tigers and Golden Eagles.
What did BC do? The Eagles (1-2, 0-1) converted on 8 of 19 third-down conversions and 4 of 5 fourth-down conversions, making FSU’s defense pay.
Time and time again, BC quarterback Thomas Castellanos dropped back and had time to throw or found a rushing lane to pick up a first down. On the day, he completed 20 of 33 passes for 305 yards, a touchdown and an interception. The Waycross, Ga., native also ran 16 times for 95 yards and a touchdown.
On every significant drive, Castellanos threw or ran for a first down. Or Kye Robichaux (21 carries, 64 yards, 1 TD) ran for a first down. Robichaux converted six times on third or fourth downs.
If not for BC’s numerous pre-snap penalties, this is a discussion about an Eagles upset.
Notables from FSU’s win
Travis, Bell and Tatum Bethune were each injured in the game. Bethune led FSU with eight tackles (five solo) and he had a tackle for loss.
A week after Johnny Wilson was targeted often but instead had no catches and a few drops, Travis looked for him early and completed a pass. It was the start of a very good day as Wilson had four receptions for 105 yards.
Benson ran 14 times for 68 yards. Rodney Hill had a couple of impressive runs, finishing with three carries for 12 yards.
Preston Daniel also had a 4-yard TD reception in the second half.
BC committed 18 penalties, a school record, for 132 yards. And the final one was a facemask that allowed FSU to generate a first down and run the clock for the win. The Eagles suffered most of them on offense, and of the pre-snap variety.
FSU had 10 tackles for loss, including two apiece by Kalen DeLoach and Patrick Payton.
BC also outgained FSU, 457 yards to 340. The Seminoles converted their only fourth-down opportunity but were only 2 of 9 on third down.
FSU had two costly turnovers. One was a short pass to Lawrance Toafili, but the ball was jarred loose and Khari Johnson returned 8 yards for a touchdown. Another came on a squib kick by BC that Benson mishandled and gifted the Eagles a short field.