CLEMSON, S.C. -- Up 17-7 in second quarter, the Florida State defense twice staved off Clemson scoring threats and helped the Seminoles retake momentum.
Following a Jameis Winston interception that set up the Tigers with great field position at the Seminoles’ 42 yard-line, the Florida State defense held Clemson without points, forcing a punt five plays later when Clemson couldn’t convert a third-and-16 from the Florida State 35 yard-line.
Clemson started its next drive at its own 49-yard line after forcing a three-and-out but failed to even get the ball into field-goal range and was forced to punt once again. The Seminoles scored four plays later on 72-yard touchdown pass from Winston to former Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas star Rashad Greene that made it 24-7.
Two former St. Thomas Aquinas standouts had huge first halves to help put the Seminoles ahead 27-7 heading into the tunnel. Lamarcus Joyner forced a fumble that was returned for a touchdown when he blindsided Clemson quarterback Tajh Boyd in the first quarter and then ended a Clemson scoring threat with an interception late in the second quarter.
Greene hauled in seven passes in the first half for 129 yards and a touchdown, including a 72-yard scoring play that saw him break a tackle before sprinting away from two Clemson defenders. Greene also scored on a 17-yard reception from Winston in the third quarter.
After forcing a turnover on Clemson’s first offensive play of the game, Florida State wasted little time scoring. The Seminoles scored on a 22-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Kelvin Benjamin just three plays later. The score gave FSU the early lead and also marked the first time Clemson had given up points off a turnover all season.
Two possessions later, the Tigers gave up their second score off a turnover when Florida State’s Mario Edwards Jr. returned a Boyd fumble 37 yards for a touchdown.
Big First Quarter
The 17 points Florida State scored against Clemson in the first quarter were the most points in a quarter the Tigers had allowed this season and the most since N.C. State put up 21 in the first quarter on Nov. 17, 2012.
James Wilder Jr. left the game in the second quarter with a concussion and did not return. The junior running back finished the game with 12 yards on five carries.
Next for FSU
The Seminoles would be well-served not to look ahead to their game against rival Miami in two weeks. The Hurricanes are unbeaten, and the game will mark a return to form for one of college football’s best rivalries.
But first, Florida State has to contend with an N.C. State team that upset it — and derailed its national title hopes — last season.
The Wolfpack (3-3, 0-3 ACC) visits Tallahassee on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. on ABC.
This and That
• Coming into Saturday night, the Tigers had not turned the ball over more than twice in a game all season. By halftime, the Seminoles already had forced three.
• Florida State’s captains were senior corner Joyner, senior linebacker Telvin Smith and senior wide receiver Kenny Shaw.
• When Florida State won the toss and elected to defer it marked the 17th consecutive game that Clemson had received the opening kickoff.