Photo courtesy of Florida State athletics
Running back Dalvin Cook accomplished a great and many things over his three years at Florida State.
One thing he never did was lose to Florida. On this day five years ago, Cook played a major part in the FSU victory, rushing for 183 yards and two touchdowns in a 27-2 win over the rival Gators.
Setting the Stage
Florida State had won two in a row and four of five against rival Florida as it arrived at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Nov. 28, 2015. The Seminoles were 9-2 and ranked No. 14 in the country.
Florida was coming off disappointing seasons in 2013 and 2014, but had made its way back into the top 10 for the final week in the regular season in 2015. The Gators were 10-1 and playing at home. That wouldn’t matter however as Cook and the FSU defense were too much.
For three quarters, both defenses were outstanding. The lone touchdown to that point came from FSU on 4th-and-goal from the 1-yard-line.
On a play that appeared doomed for the Seminoles, Sean Maguire was forced to his right before firing across the grain and through defenders to tight end Jeremy Kerr. That score was book-ended by Roberto Aguayo field goals of 45 and 51 yards.
The Seminoles led 13-0 after three quarters, but Florida was driving. After turning the ball over on downs early in the game, the Gators were in the red zone for just the second time.
On 3rd-and-4 from the 6-yard-line however, Florida quarterback Treon Harris was flushed out and forced to throw the ball away. Intentional grounding was called and Florida was pushed back near the 20-yard-line. The Gators had to settle for a field goal attempt, but FSU defensive end DeMarcus Walker was able to get a hand on the 37-yard try and Florida was turned away.
It was the third straight meeting in Gainesville that FSU took a shutout in the final period. The Seminoles however, were never able to finish it off. With less than nine minutes remaining, Florida finally got on the board and in bizarre fashion.
Florida’s Cece Jefferson sacked and stripped Maguire and the ball rolled all the way into the end zone. Several players had the opportunity to recover it, but Maguire eventually fell on it for a safety.
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After a big kick return by Valdez Showers was called back, Florida went 3-and-out. That’s when Cook put the game on ice.
Cook had been bottled up for most of the first half, but broke off runs of 12, 10 and 15 yards to the end zone to extend the FSU lead to 20-2. Following another Florida red zone trip that resulted in no points, Cook put the exclamation point on the victory.
On FSU’s final possession, Cook had carried six times for 46 yards as the Seminoles faced 4th-and-3 from the Florida 29-yard-line. Cook took the misdirection flip from Maguire and capped off the drive with his second touchdown of the night.
Cook carried the offense for FSU while Walker anchored the defense. In addition to the blocked kick, Walker tied a team-high with nine tackles. Walker added 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. As a team, FSU yielded just 262 yards and tallied six sacks.
The victory for Florida State would clinch a fourth straight 10-win season and a New Year’s Six berth. FSU closed the year with a loss to Houston in the Peach Bowl.
The defeat for Florida would begin a 3-game losing streak to close the year. It lost to Alabama in the SEC Championship and then Michigan in the Capital One Bowl.
The two points served as the fewest ever scored by Florida against FSU. The victory would mark the first time that the Seminoles had ever defeated Florida three straight times in Gainesville. It happened on this day five years ago.