TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A rout and a nail-biter. Florida State has knocked off its two state rivals for the first time since 2016, setting off a raucous celebration.
Trey Benson had a 17-yard touchdown run with 4:06 left to give No. 16 Florida State a 45-38 win over Florida on Friday.
Benson had 111 yards rushing and three touchdowns, and Jordan Travis ran for 83 yards and two touchdowns. The Seminoles ran for 228 yards — the seventh straight time they surpassed the 200-yard rushing mark.
Florida drove the field in the final minutes but Anthony Richardson’s fourth-down pass over the middle fell incomplete with 39 seconds to go.
It was the highest scoring game in the Florida State-Florida rivalry, which dates to 1958.
Travis also completed 13 of 30 passes for 270 yards as Florida State (9-3) completed a sweep of its state rivals for the first time under Mike Norvell. The Seminoles drilled Miami 45-3 on Nov. 5.
“To be able to finish tonight 2-0 in the state, that’s big,” said Norvell, who is in his third year at FSU. “Those two games, you know how important it is. We don’t sell it short. It’s critical for us to go and play well in these games and to go win these games. To be able to finish up as the state champs, I’m so proud of our guys.”
A redshirt junior, Travis used his ability to escape and elude to his advantage. He initially broke out of the pocket to avoid sacks but then, once in the open field, made cuts and off-balance runs to get into the end zone or set up FSU’s touchdowns.
Travis finished with a season-high 15 carries and his 83 rushing yards were the second most he accumulated this season, only to a 108-yard output in the loss at NC State on Oct. 8. But on Friday night, Travis’ legs were the difference.
“The quarterback is a challenge,” Florida coach Billy Napier said. “His legs were the difference in the game. He gave us fits all night.”
Florida State trailed 24-21 at the half but opened the second half with scores on the next three drives (field goal, touchdown, touchdown) to jump in front 38-24. The Gators (6-6) answered back with a pair of touchdowns, one each by Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne, to tie the game with 7:41 left.
Benson now has 965 yards, just 35 short of becoming FSU’s first 1,000-yard rusher since Cam Akers in 2019.
Richardson completed just 5 of 17 passes but three were for touchdowns. Ricky Pearsall had a career-best 148 receiving yards, including touchdowns of 52 and 43 yards in the first half.
Trevor Etienne had a season-best 129 yards on 17 carries, and Montrell Johnson Jr. had 85 yards on 17 carries.
This is the eighth time this season FSU has surpassed 35 points in a game.
Florida State has a chance to move up after winning its second game against the SEC, which followed a September win over LSU.
Florida State honored 18 players on Senior Day, including a number of redshirt juniors who could opt to return in 2023. Among those who were recognized include preseason AP All-American Jammie Robinson and defensive tackle Fabien Lovett, both of whom have announced Senior Bowl invitations on Twitter. Among those not honored were redshirt junior quarterback Jordan Travis.
Florida played without a few of its top players. Justin Shorter, who had a team-leading 577 receiving yards, did not play. Safety Rashad Torrence II, the leading tackler with 76, was also out.
Florida: The Gators ran for 262 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, but he had 11 straight incompletions in the second half.
Florida State: The Seminoles gave up a season-high 38 points, but made a stop on the final drive to secure their best regular season since 2016.
Florida: Awaits bowl selection announcement.
Florida State: Awaits bowl selection announcement.
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