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Florida State 20, Boston College 17: Eagles Give Seminoles All They Can Handle, Fall Just Short (Wide Right?)

The Eagles give the Noles all they can handle. It wasn't enough.

Melina Vastola-USA TODAY Sports

Boston College won the toss but deferred. Florida State wasted no time in marching the ball down the field 75 yards on 14 plays, capped with a three-yard Karlos Williams touchdown run. The Seminoles converted on three third downs on the drive, including an one-armed grab by Nick O'Leary on the third play from scrimmage to move the chains on 3rd and 4.

7-0, Florida State.

The Eagles would respond with a 14-play, 50-yard drive of their own. Boston College's multi-headed rushing attack did a good job of moving the chains, and avoided disaster after Tyler Murphy fumbled the exchange but jumped on the ball. BC would gain another first down after the fumble on a Sherm Alston shovel pass, but would stall out on the next set of downs and have to settle for a 40-yard Mike Knoll field goal to cut the Seminoles' lead to 7-3.

On the second drive of the game, Florida State was moving the ball with ease on offense, working its way down to the BC 19-yard line. On first and 10 from the BC 19, Winston had Rashad Greene open on the seam for an easy TD that Greene just dropped. That play seemed to swing the possession. On second down, FSU botched the snap and Winston had to fall on it for a loss of 15 yards. But on 3rd and 25, Winston hooked up with Jesus Wilson for a 15-yard gain, plenty of yardage for FSU kicker Robert Aguayo to knock in a 37-yard field goal. 10-3, Seminoles.

BC would go three-and-out on the next offensive possession. Hillman had a nice 9-yard gain on first down, but lost a yard on second. On 3rd and 2 from their own 33, Murphy attempted a play action pass that was blown up by the Seminoles defense. Bordner was in as the running back on the play. BC pretty much telegraphed the pass. I figured BC has enough different run game looks that they could've picked up the first on the ground and didn't really care for the playcall. Howell punted it away, just 36 yards, and Florida State took over at its own 31 yard line.

Winston found Travis Rudolph for a 25-yard pitch and catch to move the ball to the BC 44. Two plays later, however, Ty-Meer Brown picked off a tipped Winston pass and returned it four yards to the BC 33. The Eagles would make the Seminoles pay for the turnover.

Starting the next drive at their own 33, Myles Willis and Marcus Outlow helped move the ball to the BC 48, setting up a 3rd and 4 from the FSU 49. On a broken play, the Florida State defensive end pressuring Murphy on the outside slipped on the wet turf, giving Murphy enough time to find a wide open Shakim Phillips on a 49-yard touchdown pass. BC fans cheered more for the made PAT than the actual TD. Tied, 10-10.

Florida State answered right back with a 7-play, 75-yard drive that took just 2:27 of game clock and was capped by a 30-yard touchdown catch by Nick O'Leary. 17-10, Florida State.

The Eagles' stable of young runningbacks ran hard on the next drive. Hilliman picked up 15 on a spinning, bruising first down scamper. Hilliman gained another 4...Alston 16 more to the FSU 40. But Murphy got sacked for a loss of 14 yards on 2nd to push BC back to its own 46. Murphy and Outlow gained some of the lost yardage back, but would have to settle for punting the ball away to take both teams to the locker room.

At the half, Florida State owned a 229-159 edge in total yards, and 13-8 in first downs. The Eagles offense moved the ball pretty well on the ground, but the defense couldn't buy a stop and didn't force a Seminole punt in the first half (though they did finish +1 in turnovers with the interception). Day didn't call Murphy's number all that often in the run game and also eschewed the play-action pass, content to pound the ball between the tackles in the ground game. For the most part, that was effective in moving the chains, but the Seminoles defense came up with several big plays that stalled three of BC's four first-half drives.

Hilliman led BC with 46 yards on 7 carries on the ground, while Phillips needed just 1 catch for 49 yards to lead the Eagles in the receiving game.

The Boston College offense got the ball to start the second half and started slow. Murphy moved the chains on a 12-yard scramble on third down, but the Eagles offense would stall out on the second set of downs. A 52-yard Alex Howell punt bounced all the way to the FSU 8 yard line as the Seminoles took over to start the second half. 

Florida State seemingly moved the chains on 2nd down, but a holding call negated a 12-yard Winston-to-Dalvin Cook gain. After limiting Winston to 11 yards on the ground over the next two plays, BC forced its first punt of the game, taking over at its own 37-yard line.

And then things started to get real interesting...

After picking up a first down and moving to the ball to their own 48, BC attempted the reverse, Bordner to Alston trick play. Bordner just missed connecting with Alston but got drilled by Matthew Thomas who took the liberty to take a few extra steps after Bordner threw the ball, lower his helmet and pop #8 in a nasty, helmet-to-helmet targeting call.

Replay would confirm the targeting penalty. Thomas was ejected and BC given an extra 15 yards. Four plays later, Murphy kept the zone-read and scampered 21-yards for the game-tying score. 17-17.

The Boston College defense continued to have no answer for Winston in the Noles' passing game. FSU drove 52 yards on just 8 plays, but pressure finally got to Winston on 3rd down, when he had to shovel the ball away to an eligible receiver to save field position. The usually reliable Robert Aguayo missed WIDE LEFT from 40—his first miss of his career at home—to keep the game tied at 17.

BC couldn't do anything with the next possession and Florida State took over the ball going into the fourth quarter. A Florida State holding penalty backed up the Noles on the first play in the fourth quarter, and FSU's receivers dropped consecutive passes and were forced to punt.

The Eagles took over at their own 8 yard line. Things weren't looking good for the Eagles after FSU blew up BC's first two rushing plays, but on 3rd and 13 from their own 5, Marcus Outlow turned it to the outside for a 20-yard gain to the BC 25 for a first down. After a holding penalty negated a big gain by Outlow on the next set of downs, Murphy moved the chains on third down once again on a QB scramble and again on 3rd and 1 with the QB sneak. On the 16th play of the drive—after 15 (!) straight running plays—BC went for another trick play, this time Bordner to Murphy who went up for the jump ball at the 2 but couldn't corral it. Murphy's delayed QB keeper on 3rd down was snuffed out, and Alex Howell's 42-yard field goal attempt sailed wide RIGHT. 17-17, 4:37 to go.

Boston College fans have certainly seen this movie before. On the arm of Winston and the legs of Dalvin Cook, Florida State marched down the field, 10 yards at a time, to set up the game-winning, 26-yard field goal. Boston College downed the kickoff for a touchback but couldn't do anything with just 3 ticks left on the clock.

Game, Seminoles.

For the second straight year, Boston College gave Florida State all it could handle but came up just short. I suppose it's fitting that the game came down, yet again, to a missed kick, though I certainly agreed with the decision to try to take the lead at that point in the game. (Though I didn't particularly care for the trick play call when BC was having its way with the FSU defense on the ground.)

The Eagles drop to 6-5 overall, 3-4 ACC with one regular season game to go: a senior day game on the Heights against Syracuse. Florida State improves to 11-0 and 8-0 ACC—the Seminoles' second-straight perfect record in conference play and record 27th straight victory—with a home game against Florida next week and a date with Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship Game on December 6 to go.

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