FSU-Clemson Game Changed on One Play

 
on September 23 2012 1:02 PM

We’ve all heard the saying before, thought about it, acknowledged it, even accepted it.

One play can turn a game around. Hmmm, you don’t say … yeah, that’s probably true … in fact, I’ve noticed that to be the case … plenty of times.

Rarely, though, is evidence provided to back the claim in such stunning fashion at just precisely the right time.

Having outgained, outhustled and outplayed Clemson, Florida State still found itself trailing at home in a battle of ACC college football powers. Down 10 points, just moments removed from Tigers coach Dabo Swinney jumping up and down in celebration of a 50-yard field goal by his kicker, Chandler Catanzaro, the Seminoles seemed stuck in a proverbial never-never land where regardless of how well they performed, they just could not get the upper hand.

Clemson had struck first and managed to counter every return by FSU. The pattern seemed set, almost unbreakable. Even the normally rabid, garnet-clad crowd appeared to agree, having settled into defeatist, “oh, well, we tried” calm.

That was the setting in Tallahassee, Fla., Saturday night with 10:09 remaining in the third quarter as Seminoles junior Lamarcus Joyner settled underneath a kickoff the end zone, and it was about to change – instantly. So, too, was the course of the game.

Snatching the pigskin, placing it in his right arm and securing it against his side, Joyner, as he is prone to do, exploded upfield like he was shot out of a cannon. Only this time, he found an opening to run free. Down the left sideline he sprinted, eventually having to bob and weave through heavy traffic of friendly and unfriendly bodies, before finally getting taken down after eclipsing 90 yards.

No, he didn’t score, but Joyner had delivered the haymaker, the shot that put Clemson back on its heels and had the Tigers reeling, finally. FSU crossed the goal line two plays later on an EJ Manuel-to-Rasha Greene TD pass of 9 yards and the onslaught was on. All told, the ’Noles ripped off 28 straight points in coasting to a 49-37 victory.

All triggered by Joyner’s electrifying return.

Oh, he wasn’t alone in sparking FSU. Indeed, Manuel may have thrust himself right into the Heisman mix with a brilliant effort – 27-for-35, 380 yards, 2 TDs passing, and another 102 yards rushing on 12 carries. Running back Chris Thompson (103 yards, 2 TDs rushing, 79 yards receiving) factored as well, and the nation’s No. 1-rated defense rose to the occasion against Clemson’s powerful offensive attack in the second half, too.

But the course of that game changed on one play, Joyner’s jaunt, and with it, the ’Noles now find themselves smack-dab in the middle of legit national title-contender talk.

QUICK HITTERS

Oregon awesome – If FSU’s dominating display wasn’t your cup of tea, perhaps the third-ranked Ducks’ 49-0 annihilation of No. 22 Arizona was. Oregon overwhelmed with Wildcats with speed, particularly on defense. Arizona entered the game averaging 46.3 points per outing and had one of the nation’s best 1-2 offensive punches in QB Matt Scott and RB Ka’Deem Carey. Both were ineffective in this one as Oregon handled Rich Rodriguez’s spread attack with ease. Ifo Ekpre-Olomu and Tory Hill each posted pick-6’s for the host Ducks.

Team to watch – Oregon State has only taken the field twice this season, but the Beavers already can claim two upset victories against ranked opponents: Wisconsin and now UCLA. The Bruins had been the toast of LA thus far, but Sean Mannion (379 yards, 2 TDs passing) and Co. put an end to that and threw some serious questions into the mix about the balance of power in the Pac-12. Both wins occurred while the Beavers were unranked. They’re now 18th in the latest poll.

Team to watch II – While Greg Schiano is grabbing headlines for breaking an NFL taboo, has anyone else noticed that his former team, Rutgers, is off to a 4-0 start. Granted, the Scarlet Knights haven’t exactly faced the Monsters of the Midway, but beating South Florida and Arkansas on the road the last two weeks is nothing to sneeze at. Rutgers, at 23rd, has rejoined the poll for the first time since 2009.

Just plain ugly – It’s a tough call on which was harder to watch, No. 11 Notre Dame topping No. 21 Michigan, 13-6, or No. 15 Kansas State upsetting No. 6 Oklahoma, 24-19. Neither victor impressed, but you can’t deny that, at worst, they know how to get the job done.

 

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