TALLAHASSEE, Fl. — It took a little longer than usual for Florida State to find the accelerator, but that might just be how the Seminoles prefer it.
After finally building a big advantage over North Carolina State – late in the third quarter, instead of the usual early onslaught – FSU kept on going for a 31-13 victory in front of 60,351 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium.
No surrendered leads or dramatic rallies this time around.
Starting in place of the injured James Blackman, quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns for the Seminoles, who will go into next week’s open date with a 3-2 record (2-1 ACC).
They’ll visit No. 1 Clemson, a 21-20 winner over North Carolina earlier in the day, on Oct. 12.
Before the game, there were a few indications that Blackman would be able to play. He was in full uniform, took warm-up reps with the first-team offense and served as FSU’s offensive captain for the coin toss.
But when the FSU offense hit the field for the first time, it was Hornibrook leading the way.
The fifth-year senior, who made his Florida State debut last week, set a new career high for passing yardage and notched his first career 300-yard game.
Running back Cam Akers, meanwhile, was surprisingly held in check for much of the evening. But he made his biggest impact in perhaps the second half’s most crucial moment – a fourth-and-1 around midfield – a few moments after NC State had scored a touchdown that made it 24-13.
After rushing into the line of scrimmage, Akers slipped through a lane up the middle and then took off for a 41-yard touchdown that effectively sealed the win.
FSU has won consecutive games against ACC opponents for the first time since 2016.
The Seminoles did by stifling the Wolfpack running game, coming up with big stops on third and fourth down, not committing a turnover – for the third straight game – and by winning time of possession for the first time this season.
NC State quarterback Bailey Hockman, who transferred from FSU a year ago, completed 21 of 40 passes for 208 yards and a score.
And the Wolfpack’s vaunted rushing attack, which came into the game averaging more than 200 yards per game, finished with only 88 yards. That marks the third straight game in which FSU’s defense has held an opponent well under its season rushing average.
Safety Cyrus Fagan led the Seminoles with 10 tackles (eight solo stops) and a fumble recovery, while redshirt freshman Amari Gainer finished with nine tackles, two sacks and a late forced fumble, denying an NC State touchdown.
The news, however, wasn’t entirely good for the defense. Senior defensive end Janarius Robinson was flagged for targeting early in the fourth quarter and was ejected. Per NCAA rules, he will be suspended for the first half of FSU’s next game.