Nov. 17, 2012
By: Brandon Mellor (@BrandonMellor), Seminoles.com Managing Editor
Next: Nov. 24 vs. Florida
Next: Nov. 24 at North Carolina
Byrd Stadium // Attendance: 35,244
FSU PLAYER OF THE GAME
Sophomore // Running Back
Florida State's talented sophomore tailback rushed for a career-best ___ yards and added two touchdowns.
NUMBERS OF NOTE
Florida State is one ACC game away from capturing a conference title.
Devonta Freeman has now rushed for at least 2 touchdowns in one game five times in his career.
FSU has now held Maryland to seven points or fewer 12 out of the 23 times the two teams have met.
Dustin Hopkins now 448 points for his career, which is the most in NCAA history among kickers.
COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- The No. 6/8 Florida State football team is headed back to the Atlantic Coast Conference Championship Game.
In a dominating 41-7 win at Maryland Saturday afternoon, the Seminoles captured the league's Atlantic Division title for the second time in head coach Jimbo Fisher's three-year tenure and set themselves up to end a most unusual drought.
FSU (10-1, 7-1 ACC) has won 12 league titles in its successful history but has only competed in the conference title game twice since the league adopted that format in 2005 and hasn't won it since that first year. FSU's only other appearance was in 2010 with it lost to the Hokies in Charlotte.
By dismantling the Terrapins (4-7, 2-5) at Byrd Stadium, the 'Noles will get a chance for some redemption -- and an official return to the top of the ACC mountain -- in two weeks at Bank of America Stadium.
Sophomore tailback Devonta Freeman was the offensive star for the Seminoles against a typically-stout Terps defense. Freeman finished the day with a career-best 148 yards on 16 carries with two touchdowns for his fifth multi-score game in two seasons. James Wilder, Jr. added 52 yards and a score as well.
A week after being held to minus-15 yards on the ground against Virginia Tech last week, the 'Noles exploded for 237 rushing yards against the Maryland.
"We just wanted to be better," Freeman said. "It was a nasty taste and we had to do what we had to do to get out of that situation."
For as good as Freeman was, though, kicker Dustin Hopkins did his best to steal the show. When his second-quarter 26-yard field goal sailed through the uprights he officially became the NCAA's all-time leading scorer among kickers.
Hopkins finished the game with 448 career points to his credit and three games still to play to pad his lead.
"A lot of people see it as an individual award but the way I see it, it speaks a lot about about a lot of people," Hopkins said. "Coach Fisher having faith in me and recruiting well, people buying into the field goal team and really caring and not taking plays off, Dax [Dellenbach] snapping the ball well and [Chris] Rev[ell] helping me a lot with holding and taking pride in what he is doing."
Playing in his final conference road game, redshirt senior quarterback EJ Manuel threw for 144 yards, two touchdowns and an interception for a ball-controlling 'Noles team that had possession for 34:31 compared to Maryland's 25:29. Manuel was replaced by backup Clint Trickett with 11:16 left in the game.
Rashad Greene caught four of Manuel's passes for 50 yards and a touchdown and Nick O'Leary added three grabs and a touchdown reception of his own as the Seminoles gained a combined 397 yards of offense
Defensively, FSU held Maryland's injury-depleted offense to just 170 yards. Linebacker-turned-quarterback Shawn Petty was able to throw for two touchdowns but was just 8-of-19 for 136 yards. Kevin Dorsey had the two scoring catches and 75 yards.
The Terrapins were just 4-of-13 on third-down conversion attempts and had two turnovers. FSU was a perfect 4-for-4 in redzone opportunities.
Timmy Jernigan led all FSU players with six tackles while Vince Williams and Cornellius Carradine had five tackles apiece. Carradine and Bjoern Werner both had 1 1/2 sacks against the run-first Maryland offense.
FSU quickly showed the run-game was back on track against against Maryland, moments after the game-clock started. On the very first series of the game, FSU ran eight times for 48 yards, highlighted by a five-yard Freeman run into the enzone.
"That was good," Manuel said about FSU's quick start. "It kind of set us up for how we wanted to come out early in the game."
A few possessions later, Petty fumbled the ball and FSU made the Terps pay once again as Hopkins hit the memorable 26-yarder for the record. Hopkins then added a 40-yard field goal to give FSU a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter.
After another Maryland punt -- the Terps' fourth of the opening half -- FSU got back on the board with a 30-yard lobbed throw from Manuel to Greene. FSU would take resulting 27-0 score into halftime after an opening two quarters that saw Maryland register just 27 total yards.
But the Seminoles' shut-out bid wouldn't last much longer.
Maryland trippled its first-half output with an 81-yard drive to start the third quarter that was capped off by a Petty throw to Dorsey for a 12-yard score. The play occurred on a fourth-and-two for the Terrapins.
After a quick three-and-out and then one from Maryland, Freeman's 46-yard dash towards the goal line would spark what would turn out to be the 'Noles own 81-yard scoring drive moments later. Freeman's long run before being tripped at the last second got FSU 79 yards and his two-yard plunge into the endzone got the last few and a 34-7 FSU lead late in the third quarter.
Late in the third quarter and with the entire second-team offensive line in, Wilder, Jr. then put an exclamation point on FSU's triumph with a 22-yard run. Maryland later added a deep touchdown toss with 25 seconds left.
Of course, a chance at the ACC title will have to wait as attention turns squarely to rival Florida. The 'Noles and Gators -- a clash of 10-1 teams -- will kick off at 3:30 p.m. nationally on ABC at Doak Campbell Stadium next week.
"[Winning the Atlantic Division] is a great accomplishment but we are looking forward to next weekend," Manuel said.