James Blackman helps Seminoles escape with victory

  • Associated Press
9:19 p.m Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017 Sports
Florida State’s James Blackman passes during the Seminoles’ victory Saturday at Wake Forest. The true freshman and former Glades Central star keyed FSU’s rally. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)

James Blackman shook off a struggle-filled day to connect with Auden Tate on a 40-yard touchdown throw with 53 seconds left, helping Florida State rally past Wake Forest 26-19 on Saturday for its first win of the season.

Blackman — the true freshman and former Glades Central star pressed into a starting role when Deondre Francois was injured in the Seminoles’ season opener — had thrown for just 81 yards entering that final drive for the Seminoles (1-2, 1-1 ACC). But after the FSU defense forced a three-and-out, Blackman was perfect with the downfield shot to Tate — who was in and out of the lineup while playing with a shoulder injury.

“He never lost it on the sideline,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said of Blackman’s demeanor. “We picked our moments to try to get him to be aggressive and he made the plays when he had to make the plays.”

The win helped FSU avoid its first 0-3 start since 1976, Bobby Bowden’s first season as head coach of the Seminoles.

After taking an early 3-0 lead, the Seminoles fell behind 12-3 against the pumped-up Demon Deacons before gaining a 13-12 halftime edge.

Blackman had another big fourth-quarter throw, a 43-yarder down the left sideline to Keith Gavin on a third-and-20. That ultimately set up Ricky Aguayo’s 35-yard kick to tie it at 19 with 6:20 left.

Blackman — who was a Palm Beach Post Super 11 selection just a season ago — finished the game with 11 completions in 21 attempts for 121 yards, the touchdown and no interceptions. He had a rushing touchdown called back by a penalty.

Jacques Patrick rushed for 120 yards on 19 carries and scored a touchdown for the Seminoles. True freshman Cam Akers added 58 yards on 14 carries.

Aguayo was 4-for-4 on field goals, including a long of 51 yards.

Wake Forest (4-1, 1-1) had a final chance to tie, but John Wolford’s desperation heave to the end zone for Scotty Washington fell incomplete to end it.

“Three years ago, or even two years ago, this would have been a moral victory,” Wake Forest coach Dave Clawson said. “Those in our program no longer exist. There is nobody that left there and said, ‘Hey man, we played with Florida State.’ That locker room is crushed and devastated that we did not find a way to win that football game.”

Wolford was 24-for-34 for 271 yards, no touchdowns and an interception. He also led the Demon Deacons’ rushing attack, gaining 63 yards on 19 carries, including a touchdown. Greg Dortch had 10 catches for 110 yards for Wake.

The Seminoles next host No. 14 Miami on Saturday in a game rescheduled because of Hurricane Irma. The Hurricanes improved to 3-0 with a 31-6 victory Friday night at Duke.

Things don’t get any easier for the Demon Deacons, who visit second-ranked and reigning national champion Clemson on Saturday.

THE TAKEAWAY

FSU: The Seminoles closed a tough first month, from the crushing opener against top-ranked Alabama that included a season-ending injury to Francois to an altered schedule following Hurricane Irma that had limited them to just two games. But the preseason No. 3-ranked team and ACC favorite is headed into October with a desperately needed win — one that maybe can help the Seminoles regain their shaky footing.

Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons were trying to reach 5-0 for the first time since its unexpected ACC championship run in 2006. Their defensive front gave FSU fits, but the Demon Deacons struggled to run the ball and just made too many mistakes — most notably losing two turnovers after committing just one through the first four games and giving up a big kickoff return to set up FSU’s first touchdown.

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