WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) -- Wyatt Sexton grew up a Florida State
fan, a proud supporter of the team his father once quarterbacked.
Rarely -- if ever -- did those Seminoles struggle with Wake
The Florida State quarterback changed that with an up-and-down
outing Saturday that forced the No. 5 Seminoles to fight for a
20-17 victory over Wake Forest.
"I never thought growing up we would have to sneak one out of
Wake Forest," Sexton said.
The Seminoles did, in large part because of Sexton's play.
He had three costly turnovers -- two of which were returned for
touchdowns that had the Seminoles (6-1, 4-1 Atlantic Coast
Conference) trailing 14-10 at the start of the fourth quarter.
Then, after putting Florida State on top 17-14 with a 46-yard
touchdown pass to Dominic Robinson, he threw his second
interception of the game to open the door for Wake Forest's
game-tying field goal.
Florida State needed a 22-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia with
1:03 to play to pull out the win.
"In the first half, we played like crap," Sexton said. "The
defense was coming with blitz, after blitz, after blitz, and I was
confused. They were shifting all over the place and making things
very tough for me."
That's because Wake Forest (3-4, 0-4) is not exactly a pushover,
despite being winless in conference play.
The Demon Deacons have not been easy opponent for anyone, taking
Clemson and North Carolina State into overtime and battling down to
the wire against Virginia Tech and the Seminoles. Their four ACC
losses are by a combined 23 points.
"I think we're getting better as we go," Wake Forest coach Jim
Grobe said. "I think the level of competition that we're playing
is incredible. We're a good enough football team to win some down
Still, Florida State is not supposed to struggle with the ACC's
bottom-feeders. The Seminoles have a 20-2-1 career record against
Wake Forest, and have won all 13 meetings since joining the ACC.
"I'm very happy and lucky to be here to win this game," coach
Bobby Bowden said.
It was clear early Sexton wasn't going to have the same kind of
day he did last week when he completed 20 of 26 passes for a
career-high 275 yards in the Seminoles' dismantling of Virginia.
He got off to a bad start when he was called for intentional
grounding on the third play of the game, and it just got worse from
there. Jerome Nichols had the first of his two tipped passes late
in the first quarter and Matt Robinson intercepted it, returning it
19 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Wake Forest lead.
Sexton later fumbled on a sack by Eric King, and Brad White
scooped the ball up and rumbled 36 yards for a touchdown that put
Wake Forest up 14-3 right before halftime.
But Wyatt got some third-quarter help from Willie Reid, who
returned a punt 48 yards to the Wake Forest 14. After Lorenzo
Booker lost yards on a fumble, the Seminoles went to Reid to put
points on the board with a 20-yard touchdown pass from Sexton that
cut Wake Forest's lead to 14-10.
Sexton wasn't able to give Florida State's its first lead of the
game until the fourth quarter, when he threw a 46 yard touchdown
pass to Robinson to put the Seminoles up 17-14 with 9:59 to go.
But Sexton gave Wake Forest another chance late in the fourth
quarter when he foolishly attempted a pass that was tipped by
Nichols and intercepted by freshman Jeremy Thompson.
That set up Ryan Plackemeir's 41-yard field goal that tied the
game at 17 with 4:32 to play.
Florida State then needed a 46-yard run by Booker on
third-and-10 and a 14-yard pass from Sexton to Robinson on
third-and-6 to set up the winning field goal.
Despite the miscues, Sexton improved to 4-0 as a starter since
taking over for Chris Rix. Sexton finished 17-for-39 for 194 yards,
two touchdowns, two interceptions and a fumble.
Wake Forest, averaging 221.7 yards rushing a game, struggled
against the nation's best run defense.
Florida State held the Deacons to 133 yards on the ground.
Beitia also made a 44-yarders, but had a blocked field goal in
the first quarter when Thompson, making his first career start, got
a hand on the 38-yard attempt.
Plackemeier also missed a 39-yarder.
Wake Forest's Jason Anderson had six catches for 99 yards to
become the only active player in the ACC to go over 2,000 yards