Florida State University
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MIAMI GARDENS — Just hang around until the fourth quarter.
Miami coach Al Golden said that was Miami's inside track to upsetting Florida State. Well, the Hurricanes completed Part I.
The Seminoles took care of the rest. After keeping it close on a sometimes bizarre night, Miami let things slip away late in a 33-20 loss. The Hurricanes have now lost three straight, but are still in contention for the ACC Coastal Division title.
Florida State (7-1. 4-1 ACC) led just 16-13 entering the final 15 minutes before scoring three times in the fourth. The win was the Seminoles' third straight in the series and the sixth in the last nine meetings. FSU Kicker Dustin Hopkins made 4-of-5 field goal attempts to finish off the hosts.
Miami (4-4, 3-2 ACC) hasn't won since September entering its bye week. The offense again sputtered as the Seminoles' third-ranked defense held the Hurricanes to 258 total yards.
"We lost to a team that is ahead of us right now," coach Al Golden said. "We have to develop our guys and recruit some more and keep working, and we don't make any excuses."
But it wasn't the blowout Las Vegas predicted. Not until the final moments.
Miami, a 21-point underdog playing in front of 73,328 in Sun Life Stadium, got an emotional boost from quarterback Stephen Morris. The junior started a week after spraining his left ankle in a loss to North Carolina, but had a spotty performance against the Seminoles.
Morris completed 25-of-43 passes for 223 yards with an interception and was sacked four times . His 8-yard touchdown pass to Rashawn Scott ended an 11-quarter streak without scoring through the air.
"I don't regret playing Stephen," Golden said. "I thought he gives us the best chance to win the game and we didn't get it done."
The Hurricanes wanted to slow the game and keep the defense off the field with the running game. It was effective a week earlier against North Carolina and the time of possession was nearly equal at halftime before FSU controlled the second half.
A week after running for 180 yards against North Carolina, Miami gained just 29 on 21 attempts Saturday . Freshman running back Duke Johnson also left the game in the second half with a lower-leg injury and didn't return.
It couldn't have started any better for Miami.
The Hurricanes scored four plays after Florida State fumbled on its first snap. Denzel Perryman rocked FSU tight end Nick O'Leary of Palm Beach after leaving his feet, jarring the ball loose.
Then, three plays after Mike James gave Miami the 7-0 lead, Seminole punter Casey Beatty shanked a punt, giving the Hurricanes the ball at the FSU 34. The UM advantage grew to 10-0 with 7:32 left in the first with Jake Wieclaw's 19-yard field goal.
Things started going south after Morris gave back a fumble after Florida State coughed up a second one in the quarter. He was scrambling when the ball was knocked loose, leading to a Florida State field goal. Morris was then intercepted in the second quarter as the two teams turned the ball over twice apiece in the first half.
The sloppiness also turned up with penalties. Florida State had nine for 82 yards at halftime (12 for 121 overall), though none were committed on Miami's two first-half scoring drives. Miami, on the other hand, committed just three infractions for 20 yards
Florida State tied the game with a 10-play, 90-yard drive capped by a James Wilder touchdown run of 17 yards. The Seminoles broke the tie just before halftime with a 46-yard field goal from Dustin Hopkins.
After three mid-game drives netting 20 total yards, Miami's offense came to life late in the third quarter with a nine-play drive, covering 52 yards ending in a Wieclaw field goal. Miami trailed 16-13 as the fourth quarter began.
Miami has a bye week next Saturday before facing Virginia Tech on Nov. 1 in a game that could decide the ACC Coastal Division.
Copyright © 2012, South Florida Sun-Sentinel
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