Clemson lets one slip away in overtime to Seminoles

Jonathan WillardWithout suspended Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, No. 1 Florida State was pushed to its first overtime game in eight years, but the Seminoles averted disaster and prevailed on a 12-yard touchdown run by Karlos Williams that beat No. 22 Clemson 23-17 in a wild affair in front of a nervous, sold-out crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.

Clemson failed on fourth down and half a yard on its possession in overtime when linebackers Reggie Northrup and Chris Casher stuffed running back Adam Choice for a loss.

Two plays later, Williams busted around left end and walked into the end zone untouched as fireworks filled the Tallahassee night and Florida State players stormed the field.

The ending marked the third time in as many trips to Tallahassee that Clemson led FSU at halftime but failed to hold on. In 2012, Clemson led 21-14 and lost 49-37. In 2010, the Seminoles rallied from down 10-3 to win 16-13.

On Saturday, FSU quarterback Sean Maguire was anything but perfect in his debut, but he managed to get his team the win after being called on in the wake of Winston’s one-game suspension.

FSU announced late Friday that Winston’s half-game suspension — handed down Wednesday for shouting what the university called an “offensive and vulgar” phrase in the student union earlier this week — had been upped to the entire game. Winston attended the game, but only as a cheerleader.

While FSU could’ve used him, the Seminoles somehow found a way to win their school-record and NCAA-leading 19th straight game.

Maguire completed 21 of 39 for 305 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions. The second one came with just over two minutes to play when safety Jadar Johnson intercepted Maguire’s pass and returned it to FSU’s 26.

But Clemson running back C.J. Davidson coughed up the ball, which was recovered by FSU defensive back Nate Andrews.

Even with three timeouts and the nation’s best kicker in Lou Groza Award-winner Roberto Aguayo, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher opted to play for overtime.

Williams, who finished as the Seminoles’ leading rusher with 10 carries for 45 yards, played the role of hero. But the FSU defense had plenty of stars.

Linebacker Terrance Smith led the way with 13 tackles, while Andrews had 10 and that huge fumble recovery that likely preserved the win. Even if Davidson hadn’t fumbled, Clemson’s potential winning field goal would’ve come off the foot of kicker Ammon Lakip, who already had missed two tries.

FSU wideout Rashad Greene finished with nine catches for 135 yards, including a game-tying 74-yard strike from Maguire late in the fourth quarter that made the score 17-17.

Freshman quarterback Deshaun Watson, who relieved senior starter Cole Stoudt after the Tigers’ third series, finished with 286 yards passing and scored on a 1-yard dive early in the fourth quarter that put Clemson ahead 17-10.

Davidson was Clemson’s leading rusher with 12 carries for 54 yards, but his fumble was the game-changer. D.J. Howard scored Clemson’s other TD in the first half from a yard out.

FSU trailed 10-3 at halftime as Maguire completed just 6 of 17 passes for 106 yards early on and the Seminoles totaled minus-22 rushing yards.

Clemson had lost 10 of its last 11 in Tallahassee before Saturday.

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