The Florida State players went into BB&T Field with revenge on their minds.
Instead, the 'Noles left with a second straight loss to the Demon Deacons and several key players banged up with injuries.
The Seminoles limp back to Tallahassee with a 4-2 overall record, and a disappointing 1-2 mark in the ACC. In addition to nearly being out of the running for the ACC title game, key players like offensive lineman Rodney Hudson (knee sprain) and linebacker Marcus Ball (left ankle sprain) left the field with injuries and their status for future games is uncertain.
As was the case when FSU faced Colorado and Alabama, the first quarter was all defense. With neither team threatening to score early on, the only highlight was a 12-minute delay after a Graham Gano punt that followed FSU's first offensive possession. Eventually, the officials ruled that an illegal block by a Wake Forest player gave FSU a new set of downs which only resulted in another three-and-out and another punt.
After getting only two first downs through the first quarter and a half, Wake Forest drew first blood on a Josh Adams 83-yard run. Florida State answered right back thanks in large part to an Xavier Lee to Preston Parker 58-yard hook-up that gave the 'Noles a first and goal at the 6-yard line. Three plays later, Lee found Parker on a 6-yard scoring toss to tie the game at 7-7.
A couple series later, defensive end Neefy Moffett forced a Wake Forest fumble and the Seminole offense struck quickly. Lee found his favorite target, Greg Carr twice - once on a 40-yard hook-up down the sideline and three plays later on a four-yard fade route in the corner of the endzone. That touchdown pass gave FSU a 14-7 lead going into halftime.
The hot play of the Seminole offense late in the second quarter disappeared for most of the second half. After five straight series with the offense managing just one first down, the coaching staff decided to bench Lee and give Drew Weatherford a series early in the fourth quarter - the result was another three-and-out.
While Lee had thrown two interceptions and was off the mark with several pass attempts, his benching was more a function of not following the play-calls sent into the huddle.
"We would call a play that is supposed to go here and he would go there, or we would call a play over there and he would go here," head coach Bobby Bowden said. "It got a little frustrating. We really only got in two good days of practice last week and he missed one of them. He could not be there for one of them and that hurt."
Not until 17 seconds left in the game, and with Wake Forest playing conservatively on defense, was the offense finally able to score again. The 17-yard run by Lee cut the score to 24-21 but Demir Boldin, younger brother of former FSU wide receiver Anquan Boldin, cleanly caught the on-sides kick attempt that sealed the game for Wake Forest.
While managing only one score for nearly three quarters, Wake Forest built a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter. That margin was due to 17 straight points scored on three of the Deacons' final four drives late in the game. The final two scores were due in large part to a run of five straight third down conversions.
Florida State will get a 10 days to prepare for next Saturday's showdown with the Miami Hurricanes. The kickoff time and TV network carrying the game is still undecided, but will be announced on Monday.
Front page photo by Mitch White
Gene Williams is the founder and administrator of Warchant.com and writes stories and features covering all of FSU's sports with an emphasis on football and football recruiting. During football season, he hosts a weekly sports radio show in Tallahassee on NewsRadio 1270 WFLA, and appears as a weekly guest on 1460 ESPN Radio in Jacksonville. Williams is also a former ACC correspondent for College Football News (weekly national newspaper), and contributes to The Osceola. Story about Gene Williams & Warchant.com.