The team that keeps preaching consistency is Miami.
The team that has owned it year after year after year has been Florida State.
Turns out 2015 was no different, despite a harrowing fourth quarter that seemed as if it might be.
Led by a 222-yard rushing night and three touchdowns by Miami Central High graduate Dalvin Cook – he, with the injured hamstring – the 12th-ranked Seminoles continued their domination of in-state rival Miami on Saturday night with a 29-24 victory at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The Hurricanes got the ball back at their 19-yard line with 2:45 left, but could only get as far as the 42. Quarterback Brad Kaaya, who completed 29 of 49 passes for a career-high 405 yards and three touchdowns, had three balls batted at the line of scrimmage in his final drive.
“My hat’s off to Miami,’’ FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We knew they’d come in and play well. We knew they wouldn’t quit, that they would play hard.
“They coached and played one heck of a game. That’s what Miami and Florida State is supposed to be about.’’
FSU (5-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) made it six consecutive victories over the Canes (3-2), who lost their first ACC game of the season, second game in a row and ninth of the past 11 games in the series that began in 1951.
The Seminoles now trail by only two games – 31-29 – in the rivalry.
Fisher has never lost to Miami.
Hurricanes coach Al Golden has never beaten FSU.
“I’m just really disappointed for our guys,’’ Golden said. “I thought they were resilient. I thought they believed. Despite going down early they stayed together and we had opportunities to win. We had them in a third-and-, came with the pressure and the kid made a nice throw-and-catch that kept the drive alive, and obviously they went ahead [29-24] on it.
“Just needed one more play. Just needed a takeaway.
“Give them credit – they ran the ball really well and their quarterback protected it.’’
Down 20-10 at the half, Miami scored a 1-yard touchdown to make it 20-17 in the third quarter on a pass to Joe Yearby (15 carries for 33 yards) that culminated an 80-yard drive.
FSU scored in the fourth quarter on a 25-yard field goal by Roberto Aguayo, before UM receiver Stacy Coley (career-high 139 yards on seven catches) gave UM its only lead – 24-23 – on a 29-yard touchdown reception with 10:02 left.
But Cook sealed it for the Seminoles with a 23-yard touchdown run with 6:44 left.
FSU quarterback Everett Golson finished with 291 passing yards and a touchdown.
“It’s all about getting Everett Golson comfortable,’’ said Cook, who also scored the game-winning touchdown against Miami last year. “It is all about starting fast. Every time I touch the ball I’ve got to go.’’
After FSU won the toss and deferred to the second half, the Hurricanes opened with a 22-yard pass down the middle by Kaaya to Coley, playing his first game since Nebraska. Yearby ran for 5, then on second down, Kaaya delivered a perfect pass down the field to a wide-open David Njoku that would have given the Canes a first down and put them in scoring position.
Njoku dropped the pass with no one near him.
Two plays later, Miami, having squandered a crucial opportunity, was punting.
Florida State squandered no such opportunity.
On second-and-three from the FSU 28, Cook showed his hamstring was just fine, rushing 72 yards on an option pitch that Golson waited until the last second to release. As the Canes looked around, Cook sprinted down the left side in no time to the end zone, and FSU led 7-0 after three-and-a-half minutes.
Miami came back on the ensuing drive with a 38-yard pass to Coley to get to the FSU 23. Three plays later, on a 14-yard completion to Braxton Berrios, Kaaya got pummeled in the chest by safety Trey Marshall, who was ejected for targeting. Marshall will miss the first half of next week’s FSU game against Louisville.
After the big hit, Kaaya recovered his own fumble on the next play, threw away a pass on second down and was sacked by DeMarcus Walker on third-and-8. The Canes settled for a 30-yard field goal by Michael Badgley to make it 7-3 with 4:35 left in the opening quarter.
No worries, Cook must have been thinking. Golson delivered a 37-yarder to tight end Ryan Izzo, Cook rushed for 2, then showed he can catch with a 36-yard touchdown on a crossing pattern that had three Canes – linebackers Raphael Kirby and Jermaine Grace, and safety Deon Bush grasping for air.
The Seminoles led 14-3 with 5:42 left in the first quarter.
FSU’s Aguayo kicked field goals of 22- and 32 yards in the second quarter, sandwiched with a beautiful 58-yard touchdown reception by Rashawn Scott. Scott shook off one defender, then beat Jalen Ramsey to the end zone.
The first half ended with a 49-yard field goal miss by Aguayo, who hit the right upright.
With Miami 3-19 in previous games when trailing at halftime, it didn’t seem promising.
The Canes, who began the season 3-0 before losing Oct. 1 at Cincinnati, continue their trying trek through October by facing Virginia Tech, Clemson and Duke the next three weeks.
Their goal to win the Coastal Division of the ACC and get into the league title game is still alive.
“I love this group,’’ said Golden. “I love the way they compete and I love how resilient they are and how they just stayed together. I wanted it so badly for them to win this game.
“We have played one ACC game, that’s what I told them. We haven’t played a Coastal game yet and we’ve played one ACC game. We’ve just got to keep tight, grow from this, fix the things we have to fix. They are disappointed but they will come back…’’
After the game, Kaaya vowed that the Canes will meet FSU again in the ACC title game.
“We can’t lose the Coastal,’’ Kaaya said. “That’s been our goal since day one. The past eight months we’ve been working our tails off, and it has to show up on game day.
“We can definitely beat them. We definitely can. I told a lot of their guys and their defensive coordinator that I’m going to see him again… but we have to handle business in the Coastal first week by week.’’
The Virginia Tech game kicks off at 3:30 p.m. Saturday (ESPNU) at Sun Life Stadium. The Hokies (3-3, 1-1) defeated North Carolina State on Friday night.
The No. 6 Clemson Tigers (5-0, 2-0) visit Miami for the first time since 2009 on Oct. 24. And Duke (5-1, 2-0), just out of the ranking as of this past week, meets Miami in Durham, North Carolina on Oct. 31.