The Daily Nole

5-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Edges Georgia Tech for Third Straight ACC Title

FSU athletics

On its way to the first-ever College Football Playoff in 2014, Florida State won seven games by six points or less. The final one of those came on this day and with an ACC Championship on the line a half-decade ago.

Reigning national champion FSU was 12-0, ranked No. 2 in the country and riding a 28-game winning streak as it arrived in Charlotte for the 2014 ACC Championship to face Georgia Tech. The Seminoles’ longest winning streak in program history began with a 21-15 victory over Georgia Tech for the 2012 ACC Championship. FSU would accomplish an ACC 3-peat against the No. 12 Yellow Jackets on Dec. 6, 2014 with a 37-35 win.

Georgia Tech entered the contest with a record of 10-2, but offensively dominated the Seminoles early on. Georgia Tech scored touchdowns on each of its first three drives, but each time, the Seminoles had an answer.

It was the fullbacks who did the damage for Georgia Tech in the first half as Synjyn Days scored a pair of 1-yard touchdowns in the first quarter before Zach Laskey added a 4-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. FSU quarterback and 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston threw touchdowns passes of 46 yards to tight end and eventual John Mackey Award winner Nick O’Leary and of 44 yards to Rashad Greene. Those scoring tosses were sandwiched around a 1-yard touchdown run by Dalvin Cook as FSU drew even at 21-21.

The Seminoles would finally get a stop late in the first half and would take their first lead when Winston again hit Greene on another scoring strike — this time from nine yards away. Down 28-21, Georgia Tech felt little resistance on its opening drive of the second half as it melted nearly seven minutes off the clock on a 14-play, 77-yard drive capped by Days’ third 1-yard touchdown run.

From there however, the FSU defense would settle in. The Seminoles cashed in with field goals from Roberto Aguayo on their next three possessions. During that time, the FSU defense came alive by forcing a punt, a turnover on downs and an interception of quarterback Justin Thomas by safety Lamarcus Brutus.

With a 37-28 lead, FSU seemed in command after a Cason Beatty punt backed up Georgia Tech to its own 3-yard-line with less than three minutes to play, but it took the Yellow Jackets just over a minute to go 97 yards. Thomas capped the drive with a 25-yard touchdown pass to Darren Waller.

With less than two minutes to play, Georgia Tech was unable to recover the onside kick, but with a timeout remaining, stood a chance of getting the ball back. That was until Cook rushed for nine yards on 3rd-and-7 to ice the contest.

Cook finished the night with 177 yards rushing on 31 carries while the Yellow Jackets tallied 331 yards on the ground and 465 total. Thomas rushed for a team-high 104 yards in the loss to go with 134 yards passing. Winston was 21-for-30 passing for 309 yards and the three aforementioned touchdown passes. Greene led all receivers with seven catches for 123 yards and the two scores. Reggie Northrup tallied 12 tackles and one for loss for FSU in the win.

Although FSU was able to hold off Georgia Tech to win a third straight ACC title, the seasons ended in different ways. The Seminoles would go on to be blasted by Oregon in the Rose Bowl, 59-20. The Yellow Jackets would go on to beat Mississippi State 49-34 in the Orange Bowl for their most significant bowl win since topping Nebraska in the Citrus Bowl to cap the 1990 season and earn a share of the national championship.

Since the memorable contest, neither FSU nor Georgia Tech has been back to the ACC Championship. The contest however, remains the closest one in ACC Championship history. It happened on this day five years ago.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply