TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — With a come-from-behind victory against a ranked team, No. 4 Florida State opened the second half of its season much like it did the first.
This one left the Seminoles as the lone remaining unbeaten in the Atlantic Coast Conference and in the state of Florida.
Jordan Travis accounted for three touchdowns, including a 2-yard run early in the fourth quarter that gave Florida State its first lead, and the Seminoles rallied from 10 points down to beat No. 16 Duke 38-20 on Saturday night.
Florida State (7-0, 5-0) extended its winning streak to 13 and now sits alone atop the league standings after No. 10 North Carolina lost to Virginia.
Travis had everything to do with the latest victory — the 22nd in as many tries against Duke. The sixth-year senior completed 27 of 36 passes for 268 yards and two scores against the ACC’s stingiest defense. He also led the team with 62 yards rushing, including 40 on the go-ahead, 96-yard drive.
“He was unbelievable,” Florida State coach Mike Norvell said. “To see him take over in that game, it was special. It was a really cool moment there in the second half.”
Travis followed with a 21-yard TD pass to Lawrance Toafili that extended Florida State’s scoring streak of at least 30 points to 13.
“I had a lot of fun today,” Travis said. “Coach Norvell and I had a meeting last Sunday about having fun again because sometimes I am maybe pressing, have pressure and I’m trying to do too much. So I’m just trying to get back to myself, enjoy the game of football, enjoy my teammates.”
Duke (5-2, 2-1) could pin its collapse on losing standout quarterback Riley Leonard to a right ankle injury. Leonard, returning after missing a game because of injury, was knocked out of the game with a little less than seven minutes to go in the third quarter.
He worked on the sideline to show team trainers he could play, but coach Mike Elko declined to put him back in the game. The Blue Devils managed just 35 yards after Leonard left the game and backup quarterback Henry Belin replaced him.
“He was begging me on the sideline to come back in,” Elko said. “I didn’t feel comfortable with where he was health-wise to move back, so we didn’t do it.”
Leonard completed 7 of 16 passes for 69 yards, with an interception. Jaquez Moore led the Blue Devils with 110 yards rushing and a TD. Belin completed just one pass in relief.
“Starting that fourth quarter, it was just a lack of execution,” Duke left tackle Graham Barton said. “A lot of our mistakes were self-inflicted.”
Elko had a chance to go up 23-17 in the third with Leonard on the sideline, but he opted to go for it on fourth-and-3 from the 4. Belin’s pass in the end zone sailed wide, and Florida State took over and drove the length of the field.
“We didn’t feel like going up six was going to really help us,” Elko said. “Their offense is too explosive. We were down there and playing that as a four-down situation.”
Duke dominated early much of the opening quarter and built its largest lead ever against Florida State, at 10-0. The Blue Devils stuffed two fourth-and-1 plays to end the Seminoles’ opening two drives. They scored off both, getting a 42-yard touchdown run from Moore and then a 45-yard field goal.
The Blue Devils nearly kept it rolling when Travis fumbled on the ensuing possession. But the ’Noles recovered, and Travis later found Caziah Holmes for a touchdown — extending his streak of games with at least one TD pass to 19.
The game got even wackier from there.
Duke’s Chandler Rivers returned an interception for a touchdown and then Deuce Spann returned the ensuing kickoff 99 yards for a score to breathe life into Doak Campbell Stadium.
Still, Florida State trailed 20-17 at halftime. It was the third time this season that the ’Noles were down at intermission. Just like the other two, it didn’t last. Just like the other two, Travis had a lot to do with the comeback.
“Our guys showed up and made critical plays throughout the second half,” Norvell said.