ORLANDO — It was closer than expected and uglier than it should have been, but No. 13 Florida State picked up its 10th win of the season Thursday night. Ryan Fitzgerald scored a 32-yard field goal with 55 seconds left to end a wild, back-and-forth final period and put the Seminoles in the Cheez-It Bowl at Camping World Stadium. In a 35-32 win over Oklahoma.
FSU (10-3) recorded its first double-digit win in six seasons. It was one of several milestones on Thursday. Another: Quarterback Jordan Travis became the 11th player in program history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in a single season.
The Seminoles got off to a sloppy start despite FSU’s two-point victory over a big-name team mired in rebuilding. Oklahoma (6-7) broke down the FSU defense, and the Seminoles offense looked out of rhythm.
The most obvious and recurring problem in FSU’s early days was the inability to get off the field. The same problem doomed the Seminoles to their first loss of the season to nationally ranked Wake Forest.
FSU allowed Oklahoma to convert five of its first nine third attempts. Two of them (third and fifth and third and eighth) kept touchdown runs. A missed field goal saved another disastrous game — a 46-yard bomb FSU surrendered on third-and-15.
The Seminoles hurt their career with self-inflicted errors, namely a pair of ill-timed errors: a Camron McDonald error that would have converted on fourth-and-eighth and another wide-open John Ni Wilson failed to make the block on a deep ball.
But FSU bounced back. Travis hit Wilson for a pivotal third down conversion, and Tampa Bay Tech alum Trey Shawn Ward scored with a 1-yard touchdown with five minutes left in the third quarter to give FSU a 18-17 lead.
That’s when FSU’s no-go situation arose again. Oklahoma’s 9-yard rush before the start of the fourth quarter was erased by an illegal block from behind. Given a second chance, FSU made matters worse by giving up a 31-yard pass. The Sooners took the lead when rookie Gavin Sawchuk sprinted 15 yards down the middle.
FSU responded again, with Ward’s second score of the night — a 38-yard drive from the right sideline to tie the game at 25 with 11 minutes left.
The Seminoles finally got the defense they needed when Omarion Cooper’s third down helped snatch the ball away from Sawchuk. Jammie Robinson recovered to end his impressive run at Oklahoma State. Six plays later, Travis hit Maxton Douglas in the middle for a 17-yard touchdown and the lead.
It didn’t last long, as Oklahoma State’s Jovantae Barnes ran for 12 yards without a touch to tie the game at 32 with 3:37 left.
FSU has another answer. Travis found Wilson galloping down the right side and sent the ball upfield. Wilson grabbed it with one hand, bounced it off and eventually pinned it 58 yards out, putting the Seminoles in the red zone. After three plays, Fitzgerald made a cool shot to give FSU the win.
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The declared attendance was 61,520 — the largest for a game since Florida State University of Notre Dame hosted what was then known as the Champs-Elysees Sports Cup 11 years ago.
This story will be updated.
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