The Seminoles snap the streak: their 41-16 ends the Deacs' winning streak in this series at 3 games
Preview: #4 Florida State Seminoles (7-0, 5-0) vs Wake Forest Demon Deacons (4-3, 1-3)
Playing meaningful games down the stretch is what college football players and coaches aim for. And in the case of the 4th ranked Seminoles and unranked Demon Deacons, today's (October 28, 2023) 12pm kickoff on ABC is clearly a pivotal game for both.
With aspirations of an ACC title and related post-season play, Florida State's offense (which is averaging 41.6 points per game), looks to test the sound and steady Wake Forest defense (allowing 22.1 points per game). Quarterback Jordan Travis (1750 passing yards/65.1 completion percentage/15 touchdowns with 2 interceptions) paces the offense and is complimented by running backs Trey Benson (a team-high 489 rushing yards/6.5 yards per carry and 6 rushing touchdowns) and Lawrence Toafili (251 rushing yards/7.2 yards per carry and 2 rushing touchdowns). In the passing game, both Keon Coleman (472 receiving yards/15.2 yards per catch and 7 touchdowns) along with Johnny Wilson (415 receiving yards/16.6 yards per catch) look to put pressure on Wake's secondary. By the same token, the Deacs' Malik Mustapha (41 total tackles with an interception at safety) and Chelen Garnes (33 total tackles at cornerback) are among the members of the secondary looking to counter the Florida State attack; combined with leading tackler Jacob Roberts (55 total tackles and 5 sacks at linebacker) and defensive end Jasheen Davis (4.5 sacks) leading the charge (as the team allows 366.9 yards par game while the Seminoles rack up 445.1 yards per game on offense).
Coming off a thrilling 21-17 win over Pitt (click HERE to refer to our coverage), Mitch Griffis gets the start at quarterback (1211 passing yards/59.2 completion percentage with 9 touchdowns and 6 interceptions). The Deacs will rely on running backs Demond Claiborne (a team leading 471 rushing yards/4.8 yards per carry and 5 rushing touchdowns) and Justice Ellison (348 rushing yards/4.6 yards per carry) against a Seminole defense allowing 149.3 rushing yards per game. Wideouts Jahmal Banks (433 receiving yards/11.4 yards per catch with 3 touchdowns) and Taylor Morin (338 receiving yards/12.5 yards per catch with 2 touchdowns) are looking at giving the 'Noles defensive backs led by Shyheim Brown (27 tackles with 1 interception) and a defense led by linebacker Kalen DeLoach (37 tackles with 3.5 sacks) as many problems as possible as the team looks to extend their winning streak in the series to 4 games in a row.
Game recap: The Seminoles snap their 3-game losing streak to the Deacs thanks to a 24-point run in the 2nd quarter
After a near-miss interception by Wake's Caelen Carson and a near lost fumble by Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis, the Seminoles score on their opening drive (the first drive of the game by either team) at the 10:38 mark thanks to his (Travis) 13-yard scamper on a 3rd down to take an early 7-0 lead. Ryan Fitzgerald's field goal at the 1:11 mark of the quarter would extend the lead to 10-0.
Wake quarterback Mitch Griffis would march the team downfield to a scoring drive early in the 2nd quarter (12:06) to cut into the Seminole lead as Ke'Shawn Williams would cap off the drive with a 2-yard rushing touchdown (10-7).
From there, a combination of sound offense by Florida State, overextension of the Wake defense, and an offense which has difficulty getting into a rhythm, position the Seminoles on a 24 point scoring run.
A Jordan Travis touchdown pass (17 yards) to Keon Coleman makes it a 17-7 game (10:41 in the 2nd quarter) and at the 4:16b mark, a brilliant misdirection passing call which leads to an 80-yard touchdown pass to Trey Benson extends the lead to 24-7. To close out the half, Florida State scores twice in the last 1:16 of the 2nd quarter (14-yard touchdown reception by Keon Coleman and a 34-yard field goal by Ryan Fitzgerald) to give them a 34-7 lead at halftime.
Wake opens the 3rd quarter with 2 scoring plays by the offense. Matthew Dennis' 24-field goal halts the scoring run and makes it a 34-10 lead. Another scoring drive (0:52 mark of the 3rd quarter) gets Wake closer (down 34-16 as the 2-point conversation is unsuccessful).
Florida State would close out the scoring in the 4th quarter (11:09 in the 4th quarter) to close out the scoring and the game by a 41-16 margin.
Recap: Wake has a short week as they play at #20 Duke on November 2, 2023 (ESPN Game)
The Deacs can't delay on rebounding from today's loss.
The 4th ranked Seminoles have 2.5 times as many total yards of offense (508 vs 210), many of which come during their 24-point run. Quarterback Jordan Travis (22 of 35 for 359 passing yards and 3 touchdowns) along with receivers Trey Benson (4 receptions for 100 yards and 1 touchdown) and Keon Coleman (7 receptions for 66 yards and 2 touchdowns) lead the way for the offense. Linebacker Tatum Bethune (9 tackles) leads the defense, and Kalen DeLoach and Bryon Turner, Jr add a sack apiece.
Justice Ellison (10 carries for 77 yards) and Jahmal Banks (4 receptions for 43 yards) lead the Deacons' offense as the passing game only accounts for 82 yards. Defensively, Chelen Garnes (7 tackles) along with Jasheen Davis (1 sack) make an impact on defense.
Head coach Dave Clawson, safety Malik Mustapha, and running back Justice Ellison (Wake) take time to speak with the media, including fielding our questions. With a short turnaround and a focus on making a bowl game and keeping their streak intact, while acknowledging the performance of their opponent, there's recognition of areas of focus to get back on a winning track (you may watch their responses to our questions below):
Notes: All video and photos are recorded by Andrew Snorton via CCSLLC (click HERE to visit their Instagram). For the full interviews and related content, visit the 2023 playlist and subscribe today (click HERE).