ORLANDO, Fla.,None - Florida State rallied from a 14-point, second-half deficit using a pair of touchdown passes by E.J Manuel and two field goals from Dustin Hopkins to slip past Notre Dame 18-14 in the Champs Sports Bowl on Thursday night.
The victory was FSU's fourth straight bowl win. FSU receiver
Rashad Greene, who caught one of Manuel's touchdown passes, was named the game's MVP.
The No. 25 Seminoles started four freshman on their offensive
line and gave up five sacks, but FSU's defense picked off Notre
Dame quarterbacks Tommy Rees and Andrew Hendrix three times and
also piled up four sacks of its own.
Notre Dame shuffled between Rees and Hendrix throughout the
game, but both struggled to get the Irish points inside the red
After some stagnant offense on both sides in the first half, FSU
trailed 14-0 early in the third quarter before finding some
momentum through the air.
The Seminoles closed the gap to 14-9 with an 18-yard touchdown
pass from Manuel to Bert Reed to open the fourth quarter, but
failed on their 2-point conversion attempt.
They took the lead just 1:32 later after Nigel Bradham
intercepted a Hendrix pass inside the Notre Dame 20 to set up an
18-yard touchdown catch by Greene to make it 15-14 with just over
13 minutes to play following another failed 2-point try.
The Seminoles added their second field goal of the game a series
Notre Dame punted on its next touch, but pinned FSU inside its
own 5 and forced a quick three-and-out.
A poor punt by the Seminoles and a face mask penalty on the
return gave the Irish the ball on the FSU 28 with 3:56 to play, but
Rees was picked off in the end zone with 2:48 left and FSU was able
to all but run out the remaining clock.
Notre Dame took a 14-0 lead on its opening drive of the second
half by capping a 9-play, 62-yard drive with a 5-yard touchdown
pass from Rees to Michael Floyd. Floyd fought Seminoles cornerback
Greg Reid for the ball on to play, juggling it multiple times
before finally getting his hands around it.
Reid stayed down on the turf after the play and left the game
with concussion symptoms.
FSU bounced right back with a 77-yard kickoff return by Lamarcus
Joyner, but Notre Dame's fifth sack of the night on Manuel helped
force the Seminoles to settle for a 42-yard field goal by Hopkins.
Notre Dame's defense was responsible for the lone score of the
The Irish forced a quick punt on FSU's opening possession of the
game, and used a 41-yard return by Floyd and a series of runs by
Cierre Wood to set up a first-and-goal inside the 5-yard line.
But the threat ended just a play later when Rees was picked off
by Joyner in the end zone.
The Seminoles' ensuing drive lasted only one play itself, with
Devonta Freeman fumbling a pass from Manuel into the hands of Notre
Dame safety Zeke Motta, who then returned it 29 yards for the
Both offenses struggled to find any traction in the opening 30
Along with each team's turnovers, Florida State's offense gained
only 104 total yards to Notre Dame's 91.
The Seminoles also failed to covert on any of their seven
third-down attempts, while allowing four sacks. Notre Dame safety
Jamoris Slaughter was responsible for two of them, tying a bowl
FSU's special teams didn't fair too much better, coming up a
yard short on a fake punt run midway through second quarter.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.