Red zone struggles cost Tigers as they fall at Florida State
Clemson's offense couldn't get the job done in the red zone on Saturday, and Dustin Hopkins nailed a 55-yard field goal as time expired to put the Tigers' faint ACC title hopes to bed.
The Tigers outgained the Seminoles and got career days from running back Jamie Harper and freshman wideout Nuke Hopkins, but they failed to convert their frequent trips into Florida State territory into points.
Chandler Catanzaro hit two short field goals, including a 29-yarder to tie the game with under a minute left. He missed two from inside forty yards, however, pushing one to the right and kicking another low enough for a Seminole defender to get a hand on it.
Kyle Parker was 28-of-44 for 239 yards but threw two interceptions in Florida State territory, including one when Hopkins fell down on a fade route in the end zone.
Hopkins had eight catches for 106 yards; both are career highs.
Harper rushed 27 times for a career-high 143 yards and caught nine passes for 54 yards. The junior wore down the Florida State defense, showing flashes of the running style that fans expected when he came to Clemson. His 26-yard touchdown run on the game's first drive was the only time Clemson found the end zone.
Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder did not play, but E.J. Manuel played well enough to lead the Seminoles to a win. He was 15-of-24 passing for 210 yards and an interception and rushed 15 times for 71 yards.
After struggling to move the ball the entire game, Florida State opted to run an exclusively option-style offense on a drive early in the fourth quarter. The Clemson defense looked unprepared for the attack as Manuel easily drove the Seminoles down the field and scored on an eight-yard touchdown run.
The Clemson defense played well, with the exception of the touchdown drive and Florida State's last-second drive to set up the game-winning field goal, when a pass interference call on Clemson cornerback Coty Sensabaugh and an 18-yard pass to Bert Reed helped the Seminoles get from their own 30-yard line to the Tigers' 37 in a matter of seconds.
The close loss continued a depressing trend for the Tigers, whose five losses have come by an average of 5.2 points.