Following a dominant third- and fourth-quarter performance against Clemson last week, the Seminoles had a similar, albeit less intimidating, second-half showcase Saturday in the 30-17 win over USF. In a physical, gritty, emotion-filled contest, the Seminoles outlasted the Bulls thanks in large part to their defensive depth.
Take a look back at our typical post-game breakdown. Following each game, we post this quarter-by-quarter look back at how the ballgame progressed for the Seminoles. Mind you, these also are the very same updates we use for our running, in-game live updates. They start where our updates left off (i.e. where I began writing my game story and had to abandon it)
FOURTH QUARTER, 30-17 FSU leads
FSU holds a 30-17 less than three minutes into the third quarter following a B.J. Daniels 4-yard touchdown run. His score came after a long run kicked off his first drive since being knocked woozy at the end of a third-quarter rushing play.
THIRD QUARTER, 30-10 FSU leads
With no time on the clock and one play after some confusion over a penalty at the end of the third quarter, the Seminoles pushed through for another score. This time, it was on the defensive side of the ball. As USF quarterback Matt Floyd entered for an injured B.J. Daniels, defensive end Cornellius Carradine finished off a blindside sack that forced a fumble.
Winter Park native Christian Jones scooped the loose ball and scored on an 11-yard return. It was FSU's fourth fumble recovery of the year.
Inside the final minute of the third quarter, FSU extended its lead when kicker Dustin Hopkins blasted through a 24-yard field goal to give the Seminoles a 23-10 lead. It was his third field goal on four attempts in the ballgame. Last week, he missed his only two field goal attempts.
Hopkins' 12 points Saturday now rank him second on FSU's all-time scoring
With about six minutes remaining in the third quarter, FSU expanded its lead to 20-10 when quarterback EJ Manuel connected with tight end Kevin Haplea for a 1-yard touchdown pass. The reception was Haplea's third of the season, matching the season high he had in both his freshman and sophomore seasons at Penn State.
At the end of July, Haplea transferred to FSU in the wake of the NCAA sanctions that hit Penn State after the sex abuse scandal there.
The tight ends have been key weapons for Manuel throughout the game. Haplea and fellow tight end Nick O'Leary have combined for six receptions in the game.
The first three minutes and five seconds of Saturday's second half were far from the Seminoles envisioned seeing when they first emerged from their locker room at halftime.
After going three-and-out on the drive that opened the third quarter, FSU's special teams had a rare miscue. Punter Cason Beatty had an attempt blocked when Bulls special teamer Tashon Whitehurst knifed between a three-man punt protection team and dove up and through for a block that ended up rolling to the Seminoles' 8-yard line.
Three plays later, USF quarterback B.J. Daniels reversed a fake handoff and eased in for a 1-yard touchdown run that cut FSU's lead to three.
HALFTIME, 13-3 FSU leads
FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins made up for his miss nearly a minute earlier when he buried a 43-yard field goal with three seconds left on the second-quarter clock. It was his second made field goal of the game in three tries.