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September 17, 2011

No. 1 Oklahoma squeezes past No. 5 FSU

As Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher reflected back on the 23-13 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma, he felt that his team was just one play here or there from pulling off the upset in front of the school-record crowd of 84,392 at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday night.

FSU hurt themselves a number of times as E.J. Manuel threw two interceptions, and as a team, the Seminoles were penalized six times for 57 yards.

"I thought we had some great opportunities," Fisher said after the game. "We had touchdown called back on that first drive, we had a touchdown that we could have caught but had a big hit…they made plays, that's what happens in great games."

The touchdown that Fisher referred to that could have been caught was a pass from Manuel to Kenny Shaw who was sandwiched by two Sooner defenders as the ball dropped to the ground. Shaw lied motionless on the field after the hit and was taken to the hospital, before returning to the sidelines in the fourth quarter.

After the hit on Shaw, Manuel was intercepted to swing the momentum back in the favor of the Sooners as they drove down to the FSU 6.

The Sooners tried to run it in with running back Dom Whaley on three consecutive plays, but he was stopped for a loss of two on third-and-goal by Xavier Rhodes and Christian Jones at the two-yard line, setting up a 21-yard field goal.

Just before the end of the first half Manuel threw his second interception, and Javon Harris returned it to the FSU three-yard line. After and incompletion from Jones and a two-yard rush by Whaely, the FSU defense held strong again from the 1. After a holding penalty on third down, the defense forced another Jones incompletion to set up a 29-yard field goal to make it 13-3 at the half.

"We were just basically in a tough situation, tough, tough predicaments, and we just went out there and told each other to play hard," defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said of the stands. "Try to give our offense a good chance to get the ball back and score, we couldn't let (OU) score. That was just one of the things we were going through the whole game so just the goal line stands it was all heart coming from the defense."

The Sooners' first possession brought back flashbacks of last season's 30-point loss for FSU as Jones led a 15-play, 80-yard scoring drive capped off by a one-yard touchdown run on the game's opening drive.

But after the drive the defense settled down, holding Jones to just 199 yards passing, one touchdown, and two interceptions. FSU seemed more prepared for the Sooners' hurry-up than a year ago, mixing in 3-4 and 4-3 looks to help slow OU's offense.

"We practiced all summer all season and all training camp for it," defensive end Bjoern Werner said. "We're going to see it next week with Clemson because they do the same stuff, we're going to need it the whole season."

As the defense kept FSU in the game, the offense struggled to get things going. Manuel was 13 of 19 for just 85 yards, and two interceptions. As team FSU rushed for just 27 yards and had just 246 yards of total offense.

Midway through the third quarter Manuel left the game with an injured left shoulder. Redshirt freshman Clint Trickett came in and played admirably.

On his first drive he led an 8-play 50-yard drive to set up a 46-yard field goal for Dustin Hopkins.

With just over nine minutes left in the game Trickett tied the game at 13 on a 56-yard touchdown pass to true freshman Rashad Greene on third and 28. It was the duo's fourth touchdown connection of the season.

Jones responded with a 37-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Stills to take a 20-13 lead with just over seven minutes left in the game, which turned out to be the game-winner.

"When (FSU) sensed blood and the stadiums on you, you feel (FSU) has the momentum and we just seized it right back," Sooners' head coach Bob Stoops said of the play. "Landry Jones with a great pass, Kenny Still with a huge catch - a really touch competitive catch."

Trailing by seven Trickett and the FSU offense had a chance to answer with plenty of time left in the game, but Harris came up with his second pick of the day to set up a 31-yard field to put the game out of reach.

"I'm disappointed with the loss but we had a great opportunity," Fisher said. "We had some chances to win that football game. I'm also very encouraged that our kids can compete at the highest level."



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