For Florida State, the question was how Wyatt Sexton would perform in place of injured starter Chris Rix. Bolstered by an explosive running game, Sexton delivered a solid performance, completing 20 of 31 passing attempts for 193 yards and three touchdowns.
Leon Washington led the Seminole running game, breaking off runs of 53 and 43 yards en route to a 153-yard rushing performance.
The Tar Heels were plagued by poor red zone offense all afternoon. North Carolina failed to capitalize on two first-quarter opportunities in the red zone, having to settle for field goals.
“Getting down there in the first half and only coming up with six [points]--we'd have liked to have one more score,” head coach John Bunting. “When you see plays executed and there is an opportunity to make a big play against a great defense, you have got to do it. You've just got to do it, because they are too good to not make those plays.”
“When you play against a team like this, you got to get seven points, when it's available,” North Carolina quarterback Darian Durant added.
Jarwarski Pollock, who had his best game of the season, joined in the refrain, “We've gotten it down there, but we haven't gotten them in. So we just need to go back to the drawing board and work on that more.”
After the initial UNC drive stalled on their own 34-yard line, Florida State held the ball for 11 plays, capping a 54-yard drive with an 18-yard run by Leon Washington.
On their next possession, the Tar Heels drove the ball down to the Florida State two-yard line, but could not get in the end zone. A 20-yard field goal by Connor Barth made the score 7-3, with 2:22 left in the first quarter.
The Seminoles mounted another drive late in the first quarter, scoring on a 12-yard run by Lorenzo Booker. The Tar Heels answered with another Connor Barth field goal, a 32-yarder to make the score 14-6.
A turnover by the Tar Heels late in the first half, an interception by FSU corner Pat Watkins, gave the Seminoles possession on the North Carolina 30-yard line. The Noles would score five plays later on a four-yard run by Leon Washington for a touchdown, his second of the day, to give Florida State a 21-6 halftime lead.
The Seminoles struck first in the second half on a 44-yard field goal by Xavier Betitia, after their initial drive stalled at the UNC 27 yard line.
The Tar Heels answered with an 80-yard drive which featured a 45-yard reception by Derrele Mitchell. Jawarski Pollock recorded his first touchdown since the Syracuse game on September 6, 2003, making the score 24-13, Florida State.
Lionell Green would then record his first career interception on the next Florida State possession, but the Tar Heels were unable to capitalize on the turnover. After exchanging punts, the Seminoles would score on an 82-yard drive, capped with an 11-yard pass from Sexton to Crapthonso Thorpe to go on top 31 to 13.
The Tar Heels then stalled on the Seminole side of the field again in the fourth quarter, having to settle for a 37-yard field goal by Connor Barth. Florida State scored again in the fourth quarter on Sexton’s third touchdown pass, this one to Chauncy Stovall for 15 yards, resulting in the final score of 38-16.