Florida State is taking home its first ACC Championship since 2005 tonight after beating Georgia Tech 21-15. The Seminoles got off to a fast start– going up 21-3 at one point in the first half–and coasted the rest of the way.
It got a lot tighter at the end than Florida State would have liked though.
After reeling off 147 yards on the ground and three touchdowns in the first half, the Florida State offense got a little conservative in the second half. Jimbo Fisher was content to hold on to the ball, convert a few first downs and keep handing the Yellow Jackets a long field to work with in the third quarter.
On the other side of the ball the Seminole defense bent some but never broke, limiting the GT offense to field goals rather than touchdowns and keeping the Florida State lead comfortable along the way.
At the start of the 4th quarter, EJ Manuel made things interestin though.
After attempting to elude pressure Manuel fumbled the football at the Georgia Tech 30. GT quickly connected on a pass to midfield and started driving. A few plays later they were down inside the Seminoles ten knocking on the door and punched it in on a one-yard run to make it 21-15 (the XP failed).
The Seminoles got the ball back with about six minutes left and EJ Manuel, after a taking a couple of unneccesary sacks and committing the turnover, was asked to manage arguably the most important drive of the game. He did just enough on third down to keep the Seminoles moving and the Tech offense off the field until around two minutes when he threw an interception (that was essentially an arm-punt) that gave the Yellow Jackets one last shot at life.
Manuel has not had a good past couple of games for Florida State, he made lots of crucial mistakes, turned the ball over and helped make sure this game went all the way down to the wire tonight. Manuel is a good guy and generally a talented quarterback, but for a fifth-year senior QB you have to expect more in a big-game situation.
After the Manuel INT Georgia Tech made an attempt at one final drive to take the lead at the end of regulation but their offense was hardly geared for the sort of drive they needed. After struggling to make it out to their own 30 a tipped pass found its way into the arms of Karlos Williams and the threat was over.
Florida State escaped 21-15.
This game was won in the trenches, where Florida State dominated Georgia Tech most of the night. The defensive line in particular was unforgiving until they were strapped with a turnover.
And even after Georgia Tech got some momentum it still took them 13 plays to make their way to the Florida State endzone and make it a game again. By then time was not on their side. The Seminoles still didn't turn in the kind of performance they could have, but a win is a win and for the first time in seven years the Seminoles are BCS-bound.
Check back later tonight for lots more news and analysis from tonight's Florida State win...
Passing: EJ Manuel (16/21, 134, INT)
Rushing: James Wilder Jr. (10-69, 2 TD)
Receiving: Rashad Greene (9-82)