This is getting old. The Hurricanes lost to the No. 12 Seminoles for the sixth consecutive season Saturday night, this time falling to Florida State 29-24 in Tallahassee in front of 82,329 fans.
The Canes rallied back to take a one-point lead in the fourth quarter after a miserable start to the game, but Dalvin Cook ended Miami’s comeback on a 23-yard touchdown run with 6:44 remaining to put Florida State up for good. Cook finished the game with three total touchdowns and 222 rushing yards on 22 carries.
The sophomore running back out of Miami Central High School erased any doubt about his playing status on Florida State’s first drive. Cook blew by the Miami defense for a 72-yard touchdown run on his first touch of the night. Quarterback Everett Golson timed his pitch to Cook to perfection, and the second-year running back exploded down the left sideline to put the Seminoles up 7-0 less than four minutes into the game.
Cook suffered a hamstring injury in Florida State’s game against Wake Forest last Saturday and only practiced sparingly leading up to the matchup against Miami.
The Hurricanes had a chance to win the game when they took over at their own 19-yard line trailing by five with 2:45 remaining. Sophomore quarterback Brad Kaaya moved the Canes down to their own 42-yard line, but that’s where the drive ended when his pass on fourth down fell incomplete.
The Canes took their first lead of the game with 10:02 remaining on the catch of the night by receiver Stacy Coley. The junior made a twisting, leaping grab in the left corner of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown to put Miami up 24-23. Coley landed hard and had to leave the game, but this was still the best performance of his career despite not playing the final 10 minutes. Coley led Miami with seven catches for a career-high 139 yards.
Florida State (5-0, 3-0) racked up 539 total yards to 425 for Miami, and held the Hurricanes to just 20 rushing yards. Miami Head Coach Al Golden is still without a win versus Florida State, while Seminoles’ Head Coach Jimbo Fisher remains undefeated against the Hurricanes.
The Canes responded to Cook’s opening touchdown with an 11-play, 62-yard drive that ended in a 30-yard field goal by sophomore kicker Michael Badgley. Kaaya connected with Coley for a 38-yard pass down the right sideline to get Miami into scoring territory. The junior receiver looked healthy for the first time since injuring his hamstring in the first quarter of the season opener against Bethune-Cookman.
Cook quickly made the Hurricanes realize they were in for a long night on Florida State’s next possession when he took a pass from Golson 36 yards to the end zone. The Seminoles only needed three plays to go 75 yards and took a 14-3 lead with 5:42 left in the first quarter. It was Cook’s first receiving touchdown of his college career. Golson finished with one touchdown and 291 yards on 25-of-33 passing.
Miami (3-2, 0-1) went three-and-out on their next possession, but managed to keep FSU out of the end zone for the first time of the night on defense. The Seminoles had a five-yard touchdown pass reversed and settled for a 22-yard field goal by redshirt junior kicker Roberto Aguayo to take a 17-3 lead seven seconds into the second quarter.
The Canes’ offense rewarded the defense’s crucial stop in the red zone with Miami’s first touchdown of the game on the next possession. Kaaya threw into double coverage for receiver Rashawn Scott down the left sideline, and the redshirt senior somehow brought the ball down and ran into the end zone for a 58-yard touchdown. Not only did that catch get Miami back into the game, but it was also the longest play of the season for the Hurricanes.
Cook should’ve had his third touchdown of the night on FSU’s next drive, but he pulled up near midfield with a hamstring injury with no defenders in front of him and had to leave the game. Florida State turned the ball over on downs when Miami stuffed a fourth down run from the 10-yard line, but the Canes quickly went three-and-out on offense.
Cook returned the next series and marched the Seminoles into scoring territory once again. FSU was forced to settle for a 32-yard field goal by Aguayo after the Seminoles dropped two touchdown passes. Aguayo missed a 49-yard field goal to end the half, and FSU went into the break ahead 20-10.
The Seminoles completely outplayed the Hurricanes in the first half, outgaining Miami 358-178 in total yards and holding the Canes to just two yards on the ground. Miami is now 3-20 when trailing at the half under Golden.
The Canes came out with a perfect start to the second half. After the defense forced FSU to punt for the first time of the night, the Canes went 80 yards in 17 plays for a touchdown. Kaaya capped off the drive with a 1-yard touchdown pass to sophomore running back Joseph Yearby. The Canes had four third-down conversions in the drive, an unexpected triumph for the team that is ranked 127th out of 128 teams in the country in third down conversion percentage.
Kaaya had a nice outing against a strong Florida State secondary, finishing with three touchdowns and a career-high 405 yards on 29-of-49 passing.
Florida State once again marched down the field to start the fourth quarter, but the Canes held the Seminoles to a 25-yard field goal by Aguayo. The improvement on defense in the second half couldn’t make up for the team’s failings in the first two quarters.
The Canes haven’t beaten the Seminoles since Sept. 7, 2009, when they won 38-34 in Tallahassee.
The Hurricanes next face Virginia Tech at 3:30 p.m. on Saturday at Sun Life Stadium.
Feature photo courtesy HurricaneSports.com.