Posted by Chip Patterson
VIRGINIA WON. It was a hard-fought, penalty filled contest with very little offense and one of the most bizarre endings the ACC has seen all season, but Virginia outlasted No. 25 Florida State down the stretch and escaped with a 14-13 win. The victory marked the end of the Seminoles' five game winning streak, and their undefeated record at home against Virginia. Florida State held on to a 13-7 lead through most of the second half before sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco led a 5 play, 75 yard touchdown drive to take the lead with 1:16 remaining. Florida State overcame a series of penalties and video reviews before setting up Dustin Hopkins with a 43 yard field goal to win the game. The kick missed, and now Virginia hosts Virginia Tech with a chance to earn their first-ever bid to the ACC Championship Game.
WHEN VIRGNIA WON: Lamarcus Joyner set up the Seminoles with good field position for the final drive with a 32 yard kickoff return. But after EJ Manuel completed two short passes in the middle of the field, Florida State was forced to burn one of their two timeouts with 0:45 remaining. After Manuel's 3rd down attempt was batted away, Virginia sacked the star quarterback on 4th down near midfield.
The Seminoles got a second chance on the drive after Virginia was flagged for a facemask penalty on the sack, but ran Jermaine Thomas up the middle on the next play - forcing Florida State to burn their final timeout with 0:20 left. The game appeared once again to be over after a Bert Reed completion fell short of the first down marker in bounds and the clock expired. An extensive video review then showed the pass to be incomplete, giving Hopkins a shot to win the game from 48 yards out.
Then the Seminoles caught another break. Virginia's defensive line was flagged for mimicking signals before the snap. The ball was moved up five yards, and Hopkins lined up a 43 yard field goal to win the game. The kick was strong, but the final result was called wide left as the Cavaliers began to celebrate their first-ever victory in a stunned Doak Campbell Stadium.
HOW VIRGINIA WON: The Cavaliers entered the game as one of the ACC's best rushing offenses, averaging 187.6 points per game. But when Florida State's stout defense shut down their ground attack, sophomore quarterback Michael Rocco stepped up and delivered one of his best performances of the season. Rocco has been erratic at times under center, but the young quarterback stayed calm as he completed 22 of 31 passes for 238 yards. Most importantly Rocco, along with the rest of the Cavaliers, did not turn the ball over once to Florida State. However, mistakes were piling up on the other sideline with the Seminoles being flagged 11 times for 95 yards.
Manuel also struggled to keep drives alive against the tenacious Virginia defense, converting on just three of 13 third downs. Florida State had numerous opportunities to pull away from Virginia in the second half, but only had one third quarter field goal to show for their efforts. They allowed Virginia to hang around long enough to have a chance, and that chance was all the Cavaliers needed to pick up their eighth win of the season.
WHAT VIRGINIA WON: The opportunity to host their in-state rivals for a shot at the ACC Championship Game. A win over Virginia Tech next week in Charlottesville gives the Cavaliers a share of the ACC Coastal title and the tiebreaker needed to punch a ticket to Charlotte for the title game. With the Hokies holding on to a 24-21 victory on Thursday, Virginia was in a must-win scenario Saturday night. With the victory finally official, football fans in Virginia can begin preparing for an unofficial ACC semifinal next Saturday.
WHAT FLORIDA STATE LOST: Wedged between annual showdowns with Miami and Florida, the Virginia game has had a "trap game" feel since the beginning of the season. Falling to the Cavaliers on Senior Day did not change their status for the ACC Championship or bowl eligibility. But it did hurt their stock for potential bowl games, and give head coach Jimbo Fisher plenty to fix heading into the regular season finale in Gainesville.
THAT WAS CRAZY: The entire final sequence was insane. From Florida State's questionable play-calling that allowed time to run off the clock to the extended video review of Bert Reed's catch, everyone involved in the game's final moments appeared confused.
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