The Florida state team looking to return to respect in the ACC made a remarkable statement. The Seminoles are now enjoying the triumph of confidence building, and the momentum they can carry in Mike Norville’s first year on campus.
Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to help Florida make a major lead in the first half, and the Seminoles beat fifth in North Carolina 31-28 Saturday evening.
Travis directed a crime that spawned 432 yards for Florida (2-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), but that was closed in the second half.
The Seminoles gave Norville an impressive victory after a shaky start, which included a season-opening defeat for Georgia Tech and a blowout loss in Miami. But Norville began to see Florida turn the corner in last week’s 42-26 loss to Notre Dame.
“There have been a lot of adversity over the course of this year, during the early part of this season,” said Norville. “These guys believe in what we’re doing. Starting last week, we’ve seen moments, we’ve seen flashes, we’ve seen a team that’s been playing harder, and really trying to work together. We’ve challenged this week over the week that we need that consistency to emerge.”
Seminole consistency appeared – at least for half.
North Carolina midfielder Sam Howell led three touchscreen engines in the second half to pull it to 31-28. He drove Tar Heels (3-1, 3-1) into Florida territory but fell third and fourth in the final seconds to finish the comeback attempt.
Tar Heels scored 558 attacking yards, including 317 in the second half. Howell completed 20 of 36 passes for 374 yards, with 283 yards after halftime. He had three touchdowns but also a costly interception that defensive finish Joshua Kendo set 25 yards for the touchdown.
“By playing and in our response, we dug ourselves into a big hole between the halves,” said Mac Brown, the United Nations leadership coach. “I thought we’d come back and settle down and win the game in the second half. We had the chances. We turned the momentum.”
Howell was committed to the Seminoles for nearly six months in 2018 before signing with North Carolina just weeks after Brown was hired.
Travis, a sophomore in Little Red Riding Hood who started his second career only, completed 8 of 19 passes at 191 yards and a 12 yard drop lane to Camren McDonald. It also ran 16 times to the distance of 107 yards as the Seminole jumped to a 31-7 lead in the first half, the most dominating performance for the program in recent memory.
In the late fourth trimester, Travis grabbed his left arm in pain and was limited in what he could do. Travis stayed in the match and said afterwards that he “felt great”.
“There was no one who could get me out of this field,” said Travis. “I used to go there with my kids. They were fighting for me, so I was fighting for them.”
Florida defense often bent but was playing at the right time. North Carolina ranked 13th on FBS in the third-degree conversions (51%) that entered the game, but Tar Heels was only 2 out of 11 in bottom-down conversions and 0 versus 3 in fourth-down attempts.
The Seminoles also had four bags, surpassing the game’s four matches total. Janarius Robinson had two bags, Jarvis Brownlee had a Kiss while Corey Durden and DJ Lundy each had half a sack.
Florida ran 241 yards at 36 carriages, at an average of 6.7 yards per load. The La’Damian Webb had 109 yards in 12 wagons.
It was the Seminole’s first win over the AP Top 25 team since Boston College on November 17, 2018. Florida’s last win over the Top Ten team was No. 6 in Michigan at the Orange Bowl on December 30, 2016.
With a switch from coaches – Jimbo Fisher to Willie Taggart to Norville, and two temporary shifts by longtime assistant coach Odell Huggins – this was the triumph the Seminoles were heading towards.
“Seeing them in the locker room, the celebrations were very special,” said Norville.
STILL FREE OF WINLESS
Mac Brown, the United Nations Command Instructor, has not outdone his home school in 10 encounters with Florida. He lost three matches at Tulane between 1985-1987 and was 0-6 during his first assignment at Chapel Hill in the Saturday match.
Florida played without Tamurion Terry, who underwent the 1,000-yard season in 2019 and underwent knee surgery on Thursday. While the Seminoles only competed eight assists, Travis was able to connect to two rookie machines early on. Ontaria Wilson had two passes for 61 yards, while Keyshawn Helton had two passes for 43 yards.
Implications of the poll
North Carolina, perhaps among the top ten, will likely falter when the rating is announced on Sunday.
His tar heels looked impressive, scoring 56 points in last week’s win over Virginia Tech. North Carolina dominated possession time and racked up yards at various points but struggled to put the points on the board until the third quarter.
The Seminoles scored the most points against FBS this season and defeated a ranked team after losing six straight matches – including double-digit losses in Miami and Notre Dame this season.
North Carolina will host North Carolina next Saturday
Florida will travel to Louisville next Saturday
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