Field goal as time expires lifts Noles over Tigers

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TALLAHASSEE, FL – Clemson’s dreams of a return to the ACC Championship Game ended as Dustin Hopkins’ 55-yard field goal soared through the uprights, with time running out on the game clock and Clemson’s hopes.

Hopkins’ game-winner as time expired lifted Florida St. to a 16-13 victory over visiting Clemson late Saturday night at Doak Campbell Stadium, leaving the Tigers to ponder missed opportunities that cost them in the game and have cost them all season.

The Tigers managed 391 yards of total offense and converted 9-of-18 third downs, but were 0-for-4 in converting red zone opportunities into touchdowns. Two missed field goals also contributed to the loss.

“We did a lot of good things tonight, but once again we had too many missed opportunities,” Clemson head coach Dabo Swinney said. “That’s pretty much the story of the game. I’m extremely proud of our team’s effort. We had some tremendous individual efforts on both sides of the ball, but we had some critical miscues at critical times that cost us.

“We’ve got to move on and try to get bowl eligible next week. We’ve got a game on the road and we have to try and get bowl-eligible and finish up strong at home. This one will test us, but I have a lot of faith, and faith is believing when you don’t understand why certain things happen. We have to rely on that in the coming days.”

The Tigers trailed 13-10 when they took over on their own 20-yard line with 4:11 remaining, but used 10 plays to drive down to the Florida St. 12-yard line. Swinney called on Chandler Catanzaro to kick the tying field goal, a 29-yarder, with 53 seconds left on the game clock, and the redshirt freshman delivered.

The Seminoles took over on their own 29-yard line, but the Tigers appeared to be in good shape in being able to force overtime when the Seminoles faced a 2nd-and-24 at their own 30-yard line with 21 seconds remaining.

The play of the night occurred at that point. Quarterback E.J. Manuel lofted a pass down the left sideline to Rodney Smith, and even though the pass appeared to be out of bounds and that the receiver didn’t have a true shot at a catch, Clemson’s Coty Sensabaugh was called for pass interference. Four plays later, Hopkins hit the game-winner.

“Give Florida St. credit,” Swinney said. “They made some big plays in the second half to give themselves a chance to win there at the end of the game. They made some big plays and had some timeouts and made a long kick. You have to tip your hat to them. They found a way to win. It’s awfully disappointing to move the ball the way we did up and down the field and not get the win.”

Two Florida St. penalties – one on fourth down during a Clemson punt and one on third down – kept Clemson’s opening drive alive, and the Tigers took advantage to take the lead. Jamie Harper capped the drive with a 26-yard touchdown run over the right side. Harper slipped around the line, behind blocks by fullback Chad Diehl and right tackle Landon Walker, and raced almost untouched into the end zone for a 7-0 lead.

Harper wound up having a career night – rushing 27 times for 143 yards, and catching nine passes for 54 yards. The rushing yards are a career-high, and the nine catches are a Clemson record for catches by a running back in a game.

The Seminoles responded on the ensuing possession, notching a 28-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins to make it 7-3. The drive started with a 53-yard pass from starter E.J. Manuel to Rodney Smith, but stalled at the Tiger 10-yard line.

Clemson’s next possession saw the Tigers once again take advantage of Seminole penalties to drive down the field, getting as far as the Nole 12-yard line before attempting a 34-yard field goal by Catanzaro. Catanzaro’s kick was low and blocked by the Seminoles, however, and the lead was 7-3 Tigers at the end of the first quarter.

The teams traded possessions with no further score, but a mid-second quarter punt put the Tigers in great field position. The Tigers punted to the Noles’ Greg Reid, who was stripped of the ball by Byron Maxwell deep in Seminole territory. Long-snapper Matt Skinner recovered at the FSU 10-yard line, setting up Clemson with a first-and-goal at the five.

Catanzaro atoned for his earlier miss by hitting a 22-yard field goal, putting the Tigers up 10-3 with 7:13 remaining in the half, and that scored stood up until the break. Take away the 53-yard play to open the game for the Seminoles, and they had only 26 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes.

The Noles took the first possession of the second half and scored on a 39-yard field by Hopkins, trimming the Clemson advantage to 10-6. Defensive end Da’Quan Bowers sacked Manuel on the drive, giving him 13 ½ sacks on the season, a Clemson record by a defensive lineman. The sack also gave him a sack in eight consecutive games, tying with Gaines Adams for the most in Tiger history.

The Tigers answered with a long drive that stalled at the Seminole 22-yard line, but Catanzaro pushed a 39-yard field goal just a little left, leaving the score at 10-6. The miss meant Tiger kickers had missed six out of the last seven field goal attempts.

Catanzaro appeared to not be ready when the ball was snapped, and he admitted after the game that he was still lining up on the uprights when the ball was snapped. Swinney said that holder Mike Wade came over to him following the kick and admitted that he called for the ball too early.

The Tigers needed the defense to hold, and Bowers provided just that. The Seminoles were driving near midfield, but on third down Manuel’s pass was batted into the air, and Bowers ran towards the sideline to pick off the pass.

The Tigers once again drove deep into Seminole territory, but freshman receiver Nuke Hopkins fell down on a pass into the end zone, and Parker’s pass was intercepted to thwart the scoring chance. The Seminole offense then did what the Clemson offense couldn’t – turn a turnover into a touchdown.

The Noles marched 85 yards in 12 plays, capping the drive on an eight-yard run by Manuel, giving FSU a 13-10 lead, their first lead of the contest, with 10:08 remaining on the game clock, and setting up the wild finish.

Score by Quarters     1  2  3  4   Score
-----------------    -- -- -- --   -----
Clemson.............  7  3  0  3  - 13       Record: (5-5,3-4)
Florida State.......  3  0  3 10  - 16       Record: (7-3,5-2)

Scoring Summary:
1st 10:06 CU - Jamie Harper 26 yd run (Chandler Catanzaro kick), 12-82 4:54, CU 7 - FS 0
    06:57 FS - Dustin Hopkins 28 yd field goal, 6-70 3:03, CU 7 - FS 3
2nd 07:13 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 22 yd field goal, 4-5 1:20, CU 10 - FS 3
3rd 11:04 FS - Dustin Hopkins 39 yd field goal, 7-52 3:48, CU 10 - FS 6
4th 10:08 FS - EJ Manuel 8 yd run (Dustin Hopkins kick), 12-85 4:44, CU 10 - FS 13
    00:53 CU - Chandler Catanzaro 29 yd field goal, 9-68 3:18, CU 13 - FS 13
    00:00 FS - Dustin Hopkins 55 yd field goal, 7-34 0:50, CU 13 - FS 16

                                     CU       FS
FIRST DOWNS...................       25       16
RUSHES-YARDS (NET)............   35-152    30-97
PASSING YDS (NET).............      239      210
Passes Att-Comp-Int...........  44-28-2  25-15-1
TOTAL OFFENSE PLAYS-YARDS.....   79-391   55-307
Fumble Returns-Yards..........      0-0      0-0
Punt Returns-Yards............      2-9      1-0
Kickoff Returns-Yards.........     2-34     4-82
Interception Returns-Yards....      1-0     2-16
Punts (Number-Avg)............   3-40.3   4-44.8
Fumbles-Lost..................      2-0      4-1
Penalties-Yards...............    10-74     8-81
Possession Time...............    33:33    26:27
Third-Down Conversions........  9 of 18  6 of 13
Fourth-Down Conversions.......   0 of 0   0 of 0
Red-Zone Scores-Chances.......      2-4      2-2
Sacks By: Number-Yards........     2-13      1-2

RUSHING: Clemson-Jamie Harper 27-143; Kyle Parker 4-6; Bryce McNeal 1-2;
Roderick McDowell 3-1. Florida State-EJ Manuel 15-71; Ty Jones 6-18; Chris
Thompson 3-16; Lonnie Pryor 1-5; Jermaine Thomas 3-4; TEAM 1-minus 1; Greg Dent
1-minus 16.

PASSING: Clemson-Kyle Parker 28-44-2-239. Florida State-EJ Manuel
15-24-1-210; TEAM 0-1-0-0.

RECEIVING: Clemson-Jamie Harper 9-54; DeAndre Hopkins 8-106; Jaron Brown
4-33; Bryce McNeal 3-21; Dwayne Allen 1-11; Marquan Jones 1-5; Brandon Ford 1-5;
Chad Diehl 1-4. Florida State-Rodney Smith 4-121; Beau Reliford 4-35; Taiwan
Easterling 2-22; Ty Jones 2-21; Kenny Shaw 1-8; Lonnie Pryor 1-3; Jermaine
Thomas 1-0.

INTERCEPTIONS: Clemson-Da'Quan Bowers 1-0. Florida State-Xavier Rhodes
1-15; Mike Harris 1-1.

FUMBLES: Clemson-Kyle Parker 2-0. Florida State-EJ Manuel 2-0; Greg Dent
1-0; Greg Reid 1-1.

Stadium: Doak Campbell         Attendance: 72228
Kickoff time: 8:13      End of Game: 11:29     Total elapsed time: 3:16
Officials: Referee: Jerry Magallane; Umpire: Mike Wooten; Linesman: Arthur Hardin;
Line judge: Joe Griesser; Back judge: Barry Hendon; Field judge: Billy Beckett;
Side judge: Watts Key; Scorer: John Armstrong;
Temperature: 51        Wind: Calm      Weather: Clear

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