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October 4, 2008

FSU hangs on to defeat Miami 41-39

MIAMI While the rivalry between Miami and Florida State doesn't hold the same weight on the national landscape, it still means everything to those involved.

With bragging rights on the line, the Seminoles traveled to rainy Miami to take on the Hurricanes in an ACC showdown with the loser effectively removed from the title race.

The Seminoles would weather the storm.

It took a 20 yard Antone Smith touchdown on 3rd and goal with a little under four minutes remaining to finally put the Hurricanes away. For Smith, it was his fourth touchdown of the game, and his seventh in the last two contests.

Florida State got off to a hot start, scoring 24 unanswered points until Miami finally hit a field goal as time expired in the first half.

With Florida State up 24-3, Miami struck back early in the third quarter to narrow the gap to 24-10 when Travis Benjamin took a reverse 18 yards for the score following a Christian Ponder fumble that gave the ball back to the Hurricanes on the previous play.

Florida State responded with a touchdown of their own, an Antone Smith run from five yards out that seemed to put the Seminoles ahead for good with a comfortable 21-point lead.

But Miami simply wouldn't go away, and FSU hurt themselves allowing the Hurricanes back in the ball game.

After Miami converted a 29 yard field goal midway through the third quarter they caught another break on the subsequent Florida State drive when a bad snap to punter Shawn Powell caused the freshman to kick the ball outside of the back of the endzone to take a safety instead of giving the Hurricanes the ball inside the 10 yard line or possibly a touchdown via special teams.

When Miami got the ball back after safety, they turned to their bag of tricks to strike quickly. Graig Cooper threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Travis Benjamin that had Miami behind by just nine points.

Florida State would again extend the lead at the end of the third quarter on a 35-yard field goal by Graham Gano, who was 2-for-2 on field goals against the Hurricanes including a career-long 53-yarder, to 34-22 with the final quarter remaining.

Early in the fourth quarter Ponder, who had over 300 yards of total offense, was pressured in his own end zone and threw a pass that was intercepted by Sean Spence and returned for a touchdown in another crazy turn of events. Miami would tack on another three points halfway through the fourth quarter to close the gap to two at 34-32.

The young Florida State offensive line decided that it was time to put the game on their back much like they did a week ago against Colorado. The 'Noles drove all the way down the field before Smith's final touchdown run of the evening crushed Miami's hopes of a comeback giving the Seminoles a two-score advantage with under four minutes remaining.

Miami would put together a touchdown drive that concluded in the final seconds and then attempted an on-side kick that was unsuccessful as Taiwan Easterling recovered the kick with 14 seconds remaining sealing the victory.

Ponder took a knee, and Bobby Bowden's Seminoles escaped Miami with a 41-39 victory to stay alive in the ACC title hunt.

Stay tuned to Warchant.com as we will have plenty more from today's game.



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