Advertisement
  1. Sports

UNC's last-second field goal drops No. 12 Florida State 37-35

North Carolina Tar Heels running back T.J. Logan (8) celebrates his touchdown in the second quarter as North Carolina Tar Heels wide receiver Austin Proehl (7) and North Carolina Tar Heels quarterback Mitch Trubisky (10) walk by during the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the North Carolina Tar Heels in Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla., on Saturday, Oct. 1, 2016. The North Carolina Tar Heels led 21-7 at the half.
Published Oct. 2, 2016

TALLAHASSEE — Any lingering ACC championship or College Football Playoff hopes ended Saturday for No. 12 Florida State when North Carolina's Nick Weiler nailed a career-long 54-yard field goal as time expired.

But the reason FSU watched its nation-best 22-game home winning streak end with a 37-35 loss at Doak Campbell Stadium had more to do with the game's first 59:56 than its final four seconds. FSU (3-2, 0-2 ACC) is still wrestling with the problems that led to last month's humiliation at Louisville, and the ones that led to last year's three losses, and the ones that led to its season­long hangover after its 2013 national title run.

Though the 2014 issues were overlooked because of FSU's perfect regular season and last year's problems could be chalked up to rebuilding, the Seminoles have no excuses this year — not a team that began the season with realistic hopes of coming to Tampa for the national title game but now seems destined for Orlando and the Russell Athletic Bowl.

"There ain't nothing magical going to happen," coach Jimbo Fisher said.

The loss reflects who the Seminoles are.

There are slow starts, a flashback to 2014.

With the Tar Heels (4-1, 2-0) needing only nine plays to get into the end zone on their first possession, FSU's defense has given up touchdowns on all four of its opening series this year against Division I-A foes. The Seminoles' deficit increased to 21-0, the third time in five games that they have faced a three-touchdown hole in the first half. FSU didn't even pick up a third-down conversion until the half's final nine minutes.

"If we don't know by now to start fast, we won't know," running back Dalvin Cook said. "And we ain't going to know."

Nor have the Seminoles done much to fix a defense that has bigger concerns than the torn meniscus suffered by star safety Derwin James last month. UNC quarterback Mitch Trubisky shredded one of the most talented units in the country, finishing 31-of-38 for 405 yards and three touchdowns. Receiver Ryan Switzer poked holes in the secondary (14 catches, 158 yards).

Fisher continues to defend his defensive scheme, saying it's the one FSU ran during its 2013 title run. But this defense doesn't remotely compare to that one. The Seminoles have given up more points through five games (177) than they did during the entire 2013 title run (170). FSU entered Saturday giving up an average of 6.8 yards per play. That was tied for No. 121 nationally and should get worse, after UNC averaged 7.7.

"Alignment, assignment, communication," linebacker Matthew Thomas said. "Those are the things that killed us."

That, plus penalties and inconsistencies.

The Seminoles were flagged 13 times for 120 yards. UNC's winning field goal was possible only because of cornerback Tarvarus McFadden's defensive pass interference penalty with 4 seconds left. On FSU's final drive, when quarterback Deondre Francois ducked and rushed to put FSU up 35-34 with less than 30 seconds left, the Seminoles had two false starts and a personal foul.

Though Francois finished with 372 passing yards and that impressive 2-yard touchdown, he looked at times like the redshirt freshman he is. Receiver Jesus Wilson was streaking open in the third quarter but had to slide for Francois' pass on third and 26. Instead of a momentum-shifting play, FSU had one of its seven failed third-down conversions.

"Do your job and do your job well," Fisher said. "We don't do that consistently."

The only thing FSU seems to do consistently is repeat the same mistakes.

And that's why a team that began the season with championship hopes is out of the national picture on the first weekend in October.

ALSO IN THIS SECTION

  1. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) leaves the field after throwing his first interception during the fourth quarter. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    John Romano’s Gimme Five: The signs Arians doesn’t trust Winston and the Bucs defense is in trouble.
  2. In this Sunday, Sept. 15, 2019, photo, New England Patriots wide receiver Antonio Brown waits for the team's NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins to begin in Miami Gardens, Fla. \Brown was released by the Patriots on Friday, Sept. 20, after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct. DAVID SANTIAGO   |  AP
    The fleet-footed but fleeting New England receiver said in a tweet: “Will not be playing in the NFL anymore”
  3. Tampa Bay Rays second baseman Brandon Lowe (8), left, returns to the bench with manager Kevin Cash, right, before playing the Boston Red Sox on Sunday, September 22, 2019, in St. Petersburg. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Rays Journal: Lowe played for the first time since July 2, and contributed right away.
  4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers fan Josh Cranor, 35, of Lakeland and his son Jake, 7, react after Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Matt Gay missed a 34-yard field goal in the final seconds of the Bucs' 32-31 loss to the New York Giants Sunday, Sept. 22, 2019 in Tampa. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Breaking down the mistakes that led to the Buccaneers’ blown 18-point lead and 32-31 loss to the Giants.
  5. Anthony Rizzo, right, and other team members had a lost weekend when the Cubs were swepts by the Cardinals in a four-game series at Wrigley Field. MATT MARTON  |  AP
    Joe Maddon, Ben Zobrist among questions heading into the offseason.
  6. New York Giants linebacker Markus Golden (44) celebrates as Matt Gay (9) looks at the ground after Gay missed a 34 yard field goal in the final seconds Sunday. When drafted by the Bucs in April, Gay said Tampa Bay's woeful kicking history had nothing to do with him. It does now. CHRIS URSO  |  Times
    The rookie kicker had endeared himself to fans in just a short time in Tampa Bay, but fell into the same trap as previous Bucs kickers on Sunday.
  7. Mike Evans (13) leaves the field after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game against the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium on September 22, 2019 in Tampa, Florida. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Giants 32, Bucs 31: Mike Evans says the first three-touchdown game of his NFL career should have been four. Here’s why.
  8. Connecticut Sun's Courtney Williams is lifted in the air by her father Don Williams at the end of Game 2 of a WNBA basketball playoff game against the Los Angeles Sparks, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2019, in Uncasville, Conn. (AP Photo/Jessica Hill) JESSICA HILL  |  AP
    The 5-foot-8 dynamo becomes the second former Bull to make the finals
  9. Rays relief pitcher Andrew Kittredge rushes to cover home after delivering a wild pitch during the fourth inning in a loss to the Red Sox. DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Martin Fennelly: Magic takes a day off against the Red Sox, with a winning streak snapped.
  10. Giants offensive lineman Nate Solder (76) attempts to block Bucs linebacker Shaquil Barrett (58) as Barrett strips the ball from quarterback Daniel Jones (8) passes during the fourth quarter of Tampa Bay's 32-31 loss to the New York Giants at Raymond James Stadium on Sept. 22, 2019. Bucs defensive lineman Rakeem Nunez-Roches (56) recovered the fumble. MONICA HERNDON  |  Times
    Bucs Journal: Tampa Bay’s 32-31 loss to the New York Giants overshadowed some stellar individual performances, including one by their pass-rushing specialist.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement