This article can be read at it’s original location here.
GAINESVILLE, FL — Florida State’s defense gave the Seminoles an early lead at Florida.
FSU’s offense put the game away.
Jacob Pugh and Levonta Taylor each scored first-half defensive touchdowns, and, after the Gators built some late momentum, Cam Akers and Auden Tate slammed the door shut with a pair of scores that lifted the Seminoles to a 38-22 victory at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
The win runs FSU’s winning streak over Florida to five games, its longest in series history.
The Seminoles (5-6) have also won seven of eight against UF (4-7), and can clinch a 36thconsecutive bowl trip with a win over Louisiana-Monroe next week (noon, ACC Network Extra).
During a game in which both defenses were expected to be heavily featured, perhaps it only made sense that the defenses did so much heavy lifting on the scoreboard.
Pugh and Brian Burns got it started on Florida’s second drive of the game, when Burns rushed off the edge and forced a strip-sack that Pugh returned into the end zone.
The teams then traded interceptions – and scores – with Florida answering after picking off James Blackman at the FSU 10-yard line, and the Seminoles reclaiming the lead thanks to a Levonta Taylor interception at the UF 20.
Blackman hit Nyqwan Murray for a touchdown on that ensuing drive. A few moments later, Taylor did all the work himself by intercepting another Franks pass at the 18 and returning it, untouched, for a touchdown that made it 24-7.
The interceptions were the first and second of Taylor’s career. By the time halftime arrived, 28 of the game’s 37 total points had come after turnovers.
And the Seminoles nearly tacked on another pick-six in the fourth quarter, when Matthew Thomas stepped in front of a Franks pass and appeared to bring it into the end zone. Never mind that officials later ruled that Thomas’ knee was down before he crossed the plane: Blackman went on to hit Tate for a three-yard touchdown that tied FSU’s all-time scoring mark in “The Swamp.”
While Blackman’s numbers weren’t gaudy (10-21, 128 yards, two TDs, one interception), the freshman might have played one of his best games of the season. He connected with Murray for gains of 29 and 21 yards, and made one of the more important plays of the second half when he found Ermon Lane in stride for a 39-yard gain on a second-and-19 at the end of the third quarter.
Florida State’s defense, meanwhile, made life miserable for UF’s Franks. The Seminoles sacked the redshirt freshman five times, logged eight hurries and forced four turnovers – three interceptions and a fumble.
A native of nearby Crawfordville, Fla., Franks finished 18 of 39 for 184 yards and two scores.