TAMPA, Fla. - EJ Manuel threw for 242 yards and one touchdown, helping No. 4 Florida State remain unbeaten with a 30-17 victory over South Florida on Saturday night.
Receiver Rashad Greene got the Seminoles going with a 10-yard touchdown run, linebacker Christian Jones scored on a 12-yard fumble return and Penn State transfer Kevin Haplea had a 1-yard TD reception as Florida State (5-0) survived its first road test of the season by pulling away from a three-point lead with two TDs and a field goal in the final 5:09 of the third quarter.
Three years after returning to his hometown of Tallahassee to lead USF (2-3) to a stunning 10-point upset of the Seminoles in his first college start, B.J. Daniels threw for 143 yards ran for 72 yards more and two touchdowns for the Bulls.
But the game changed dramatically on the one play the senior quarterback missed after appearing to be knocked woozy by a hit at the end of a 20-yard run that was wiped out by a holding penalty.
With the clock showing no time remaining in the third quarter, the officials announced the period would end with an untimed down. Freshman Matt Floyd came off the bench to replace Daniels on third-and-12 from the USF 23. The backup was sacked at the 12 by Cornelius Carradine, who forced a fumble that Jones scooped up and returned for a TD. That put the Seminoles up 30-10.
Daniels, who scored a 1-yard run in the third quarter, returned after the sack-fumble to lead a 73-yard scoring drive that he finished with a 3-yard TD burst but there would be no miraculous comeback.
Manuel completed 19 of 26 passes with no interceptions and Dustin Hopkins kicked three field goals for Florida State, which was coming off a 49-37 victory over Clemson - the Seminoles' first win over an opponent ranked in the top 10 since 2009, the year FSU lost 17-7 to USF on the way to finishing 7-6 in coach Bobby Bowden's final season.
Daniels accounted for 341 yards total offense in USF's victory over the Seminoles three years ago, including 126 rushing. He's been a virtual one-man show at times this season, but had plenty of help in keeping the Bulls close after Florida State took a 7-3 lead on Greene's TD run on the Seminoles' first possession of the night.
Showing what's become a rare commitment to the ground game, the Bulls held the ball for more than 10 minutes of the opening quarter to keep Manuel and the rest of Florida State's explosive playmakers off the field for extended stretches. Time of possession began to even out by halftime, with Hopkins kicking field goals of 26 and 43 yards - the latter following the first of USF's two turnovers - to make it 13-3.
FSU's defense was barely in tested in routs of Murray State, Savannah State and Wake Forest to open the season. The Seminoles overcame a 14-point deficit in the second half to beat Clemson and entered Saturday night's game ranked among the nation's top 10 in five major categories, including rushing and total defense while allowing just 10 points per game.
USF drove 62 yards following the opening kickoff to take a 3-0 lead on Maikon Bonani's 32-yard field goal, then didn't score again until Tashon Whitehurst blocked a punt and recovered at the Seminoles' 8 to set up the Daniels TD run that trimmed the Bulls' deficit to three points early in the third quarter.
Daniels connected on 17 of 33 passes and was intercepted once for the Bulls, who have dropped three straight after beginning with wins over Chattanooga and Nevada.
Chris Thompson rushed for 74 yards on 16 carries for Florida State. He had a 70-yard run for a touchdown wiped out by a holding penalty in the third quarter. Less than four minutes later, Manuel threw his 1-yard TD pass to Haplea.
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