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Freshman Cam Akers leads Florida State past Syracuse 27-24

By Times wires
Florida State running back Cam Akers, rights, gets past Syracuse defender Christopher Fredrick for a 54 yard touchdown run in the first half of an NCAA college football game in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday, Nov. 4, 2017. (AP Photo/Mark Wallheiser)

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State has experienced plenty of frustration this season, but it finally had a couple of things bounce its way Saturday.

The Seminoles took their first double-digit lead of the season in the second quarter but still needed to go to the final play to hold on for a 27-24 win over Syracuse.

FSU led 27-17 with 6:48 left, but the Orange nearly forced overtime before Cole Murphy’s 43-yard field goal attempt went wide right as time expired. The Seminoles (3-5, 3-4 ACC) snapped a two-game losing streak and got their first home win of the season in four attempts.

"There has been a lot of disappointment and bad performances but this was a good team win," said safety Derwin James, whose interception on Syracuse’s opening drive helped set up FSU’s first touchdown.

FSU’s 40-year winning record and 35-year bowl streaks seemed doomed after a 35-3 loss at Boston College on Oct. 27. This win gives the Seminoles a chance to keep both alive.

"A lot of guys were laying out blood, sweat and tears. We’re trying not to let that end and owe that to the people who came before us," James said.

Cam Akers had 199 yards on 22 carries with two touchdowns. The freshman, who posted his third 100-yard game of the season, had touchdown runs of 54 and 63 yards during the second quarter.

"He runs hard and finishes every run in practice, so I wasn’t surprised." James said. "Every time he runs the ball it is very exciting. He is reminding me on some of those runs how Dalvin (Cook) did" the previous two seasons.

James Blackman was 12-of-19 for 136 yards. The freshman put the Seminoles on the scoreboard on his first pass, a 51-yard touchdown to Nyqwan Murray. It was the second time FSU had scored on its opening drive.

Syracuse (4-5, 2-3) was looking to become the first team since North Carolina in 2010 to defeat Clemson and FSU in the same season, but coach Dino Babers’ decision to eschew a chip-shot field goal and go for a touchdown late in the second quarter ended up looming large.

The Orange trailed 21-14 with 1:18 left in the half but got excellent field position after D.J. Matthews muffed a punt at the FSU 11. On fourth and 3 from the FSU 4, Eric Dungey had to scramble and was pressured by James before his pass into the end zone fell incomplete.

"If we were tied at halftime, the odds are greatly going into our favor that we are going to win the game based off things we have done in the second half. We went for the touchdown. We went for the win," Babers said.