Quarterback Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw for another in the first half Saturday night as host Florida State took a big early lead and held on to knock off No. 5 North Carolina 31-28 at Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee, Fla.
North Carolina sophomore quarterback Sam Howell, who was a Florida State commit before switching, passed for 374 yards and nearly rallied the Tar Heels to the largest comeback victory in program history after his team twice faced a 24-point deficit.
North Carolina (3-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) pulled to within 31-28 on Howell's 25-yard pass to Dyami Brown with 4:58 to play. The Tar Heels regained possession at their own 22 with 2:30 on the clock and one timeout remaining. North Carolina reached the Florida State 41 before failing on fourth down on a dropped pass.
Florida State (2-3, 1-3) got 298 yards from the sophomore Travis -- 107 yards rushing and 191 passing. Running back La'Damian Webb gained 109 rushing yards on 12 carries.
Florida State scored on its first snap on Travis' 23-yard run following a blocked punt, marking the first time North Carolina has trailed this season. After settling for a field goal early in the second quarter, Travis reached the end zone on a 1-yard quarterback sneak and a 17-0 lead.
The Seminoles stretched the lead to 24-0 when Joshua Kaindoh turned his first career interception into a Pick 6 on a 25-yard return.
The Tar Heels, who put up 56 points on Virginia Tech a week earlier at home, didn't score until 1:02 remained in the first half. Following Javonte Williams' 1-yard run for North Carolina's first points, the Seminoles hurried down the field and pushed their lead to 31-7 with Travis' 12-yard touchdown pass to Camren McDonald with 17 seconds to play in the half.
The Seminoles didn't score in the second half, missing a pair of field goals -- including after moving inside the North Carolina 5-yard line on the first possession of the third quarter. The second miss came with 6:40 remaining to end a drive that lasted nearly seven minutes.
Howell threw third-quarter touchdown passes to Williams (for 38 yards) and Beau Corrales (for 33 yards). The transfer from Louisville finished 20-for-36 for the 374 yards and three touchdowns with the one interception.
It was a gigantic win for Florida State and coach Mike Norvell., who had to miss the team's game against Miami after he tested positive for COVID-19. The Seminoles had been drilled by Miami and lost convincingly last week at Notre Dame. FSU's only previous victory came against Jacksonville State.
North Carolina's Mack Brown fell to 0-10 in games as coach against his alma mater (0-3 with Tulane, 0-7 with North Carolina).
FSU is at Louisville next week -- an interesting matchup for Travis, who transferred to FSU from Louisville before the 2019 season. North Carolina will see how far it will drop in the polls before facing North Carolina State next week.
--Field Level Media