Florida State running back Trey Benson rushed for the tiebreaking touchdown — his third of the night — with 4:06 remaining to lead the No. 16 Seminoles to a 45-38 win over the visiting Florida Gators on Friday night in Tallahassee, Fla.
Tied at 38 after Florida rebounded with two rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter, the Seminoles — a 9 1/2-point favorite — needed Benson’s 17-yard ramble after they rallied three times from single-score deficits.
Florida State blitzed Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson on a fourth-and-12 at the Seminoles’ 26-yard line and forced an incompletion for the final turnover on downs to seal the victory.
The win completed a turnaround by Florida State (9-3) from its five wins last season, and it was the highest-scoring game in series history.
Benson carried 20 times for 111 yards, while quarterback Jordan Travis rushed 15 times for 83 yards and two touchdowns. Travis, a junior, went 13-for-30 for 270 yards with a score as the Seminoles broke a three-game losing streak against the Gators.
Richardson was 9-for-27 for 198 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. Ricky Pearsall caught five passes for a career-high 148 yards and two scores. Jonathan Odom caught a touchdown pass, and Montrell Johnson Jr. and Trevor Etienne (129 yards rushing) scored on the ground.
After a turnover on downs, the Seminoles took advantage when Benson raced nine yards for a 7-0 lead. But on the next scrimmage play, Richardson found Pearsall on a 52-yard heave.
Richardson then threw a 12-yard score to Odom on a play-action bootleg for the visitors’ first lead at 4:06. As the wild opening quarter neared its end, Travis tallied on a 29-yard run to knot the game again.
Following Pearsall’s second long scoring reception — from 43 yards — Travis evened it at 21-all with a 1-yard keeper at 5:44. But Florida had enough time for a 41-yard field goal by Adam Mihalek for a 24-21 halftime lead.
The two teams combined for 580 yards of total offense and 25 first downs in the first half.
After missing a field goal 37 yards in the second quarter, Florida State’s Ryan Fitzgerald nailed one from 46 yards in the third. Benson put his squad up for the first time since the game’s first score on a 1-yard run with 4:21 left. Travis hit Kentron Poitier for 6 yards for a 38-24 lead.
In the fourth quarter, Johnson and Etienne rushed for touchdowns to tie it at 38.