The Daily Nole

Seminoles Use Furious Second Half Rally to Down Ole Miss, 45-34

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Florida State completed the largest comeback in school-history on Monday, rallying from 22 points down to defeat No. 11 Ole Miss at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, 45-34.

The fourth-ranked Seminoles trailed 28-6 early as four different Ole Miss players scored first half touchdowns. Three of those scores came from the right arm of quarterback Chad Kelly, who finished the night with 313 yards passing, four touchdowns and three interceptions for Ole Miss.

The turning point of the night seemed to come late in the first half when redshirt freshman Deondre Francois hit Travis Rudolph for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 28-13 at the break.

After the third of Ricky Aguayo’s school-record six field goals made it 28-16, FSU (1-0) was able to take the lead by scoring consecutive touchdowns off turnovers. Marcus Lewis’ interception of Kelly on the second play of the ensuing Ole Miss drive set up a 32-yard touchdown drive capped with a short touchdown run by fullback Freddie Stevenson.

DeMarcus Walker, a senior defensive end, finished the night with 4.5 sacks to lead the Seminoles’ defense. Walker’s strip-sack of Kelly on the very next drive set FSU up at the Ole Miss 11-yard-line and the Seminoles never looked back. Kermit Whitfield’s 3-yard touchdown put FSU ahead for good, 29-28.

The story of the night was Francois, who excelled in his first career start. Francois finished with 419 yards passing and 59 more rushing. His second touchdown pass of the night to tight end Ryan Izzo put the Seminoles ahead 36-28 midway through the third quarter.

After Aguayo’s fourth field goal of the night made it 39-28, Ole Miss (0-1) scored its only points of the second half, marching 75 yards in just 47 seconds. The drive was capped by Kelly’s 20-yard touchdown pass to Van Jefferson.

Aguayo added two more field goals, including a 44-yard kick — his longest of the night — to account for the final margin. Tarvarus McFadden sealed the game with an interception late in the contest. Lewis, McFadden and safety Derwin James all recorded their first career picks in the win.

FSU running back Dalvin Cook was unable to find the end zone on Monday night, but finished with 192 yards of total offense, including a career-high 101 yards receiving. Cook had a major gaffe in the second quarter, fumbling a walk-in touchdown out of bounds, which ultimately forced Florida State to settle for a field goal. Jesus Wilson led the Seminoles with 125 yards receiving on nine catches.

Tight end Evan Engram led Ole Miss with nine catches for 121 yards and a score in the loss. The Rebels were held to just 67 yards on the ground.

Despite the thrilling victory, FSU has plenty of things to work on. The Seminoles finished the night with 15 penalties for 127 yards. Ole Miss had 74 yards in penalties. FSU however, did not commit a turnover while Ole Miss had four — all from Kelly. Florida State outgained Ole Miss by 200 total yards, 580-380.

With the win, FSU improves to 7-0 in season-openers under head coach Jimbo Fisher and 8-1 against the SEC. The Seminoles will have just five days to prepare for their home-opener against Charleston Southern on Saturday. The Rebels will also play their home-opener on Saturday against Wofford.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

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