No. 3 Florida State ends Death Valley drought with defeat of No. 23 Clemson

No. 3 Florida State traveled to No. 23 Clemson to do something Saturday it hadn't done in a decade.

Win in Death Valley.

Facing off against the team that has won the ACC seven of the last eight season, it wasn't a perfect game for the Seminoles.

But they did enough.

A highlight-reel grab from Keon Coleman in overtime gave Florida State the lead, and a stop on fourth-and-1 gave the Seminoles a 31-24 win.

If Florida State can continue to improve and display the toughness it displayed Saturday, it should be playing for its first ACC conference crown since 2014.

"I'm so proud of our team," Seminoles coach Mike Norvell said. "That atmosphere and we faced a lot of adversity throughout the game, all things that we expected. We knew Clemson's back was against the wall and we were going to get everything that they had. That's what this game should be and it was really special."

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis (13) reacts after scoring against Clemson during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium.
Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis (13) reacts after scoring against Clemson during the second quarter at Memorial Stadium.

It was Florida State's first win in Death Valley since 2013 and the team's first win against Clemson since 2014. The victory also snapped Clemson's 25-game ACC home winning streak.

Florida State defense comes through at the end

It was a less-than-perfect showing by the defense, but it executed when it needed to the most.

There were constant lapses throughout the game, including a drive in the third quarter where Clemson essentially walked down the field and scored to go up 24-17.

However, the defense would tie the game and eventually win it.

Linebacker Kalen DeLoach had a monster sack on Clemson quarterback Cade Klubnik, forcing him to cough up the ball. DeLoach picked it up, ran it 56 yards to the house, and tied the game at 24.

It was DeLoach's first career touchdown; FSU's second defensive touchdown of the year (Jarrian Jones pick-6 versus Southern Miss); and FSU's first scoop-and-score since Jermaine Johnson II at Clemson in 2021.

"We felt like a play needed to be made," DeLoach said.

"We were down 17-24, we played our defense and we played fast. We knew we needed a stop, so we just went out there and made a play."

After the first possession of overtime, FSU went up 31-24.

The defense stood tall forcing the Tigers into a fourth-and-1 situation, needing to score to continue the game. A big-time pass breakup ignited the FSU faithful and symbolized a complete defensive turnaround from the start of the game

There's still a lot to improve on, as there were multiple missed tackles early on, but at the end of the day, the defense executed at the right time.

Keon Coleman steps up with big plays

Coleman has been that big-time player for Florida State as he continues to shine bright on the biggest stages. Against LSU in Week 1, which was also his first game as a Seminole, he caught three touchdowns from quarterback Jordan Travis in a big 45-24 win.

Against Clemson, he had 86 receiving yards and two touchdowns. His first score got the Seminoles on the board after going down 10-0, making a wide-open grab from Travis. Clemson defenders constantly swarmed him throughout the game, but his athleticism came through in overtime.

"It was really just great play calling by coach Norvell and coach [Alex] Atkins," Coleman said. "They trust to give me the ball. We were trying to get it at the end of regulation, but we didn't get the flag we should've got. They trust me and said it's coming back to you. They just let me do what I do best."

On second-and-9, Travis found a leaping Coleman, who made a grab along the sideline and rolled into the end zone. Alongside Coleman, Johnny Wilson had a big game, recording 94 yards on five receptions. It's the first game since the LSU game that Coleman and Wilson both recorded receptions.

Florida State answers some questions

A close win against Boston College after blowing a big lead last week left a ton of question marks for the Seminoles. A second-half collapse saw a 19-point lead crumble and nearly have their College Football Playoff hopes damaged. This week, in a game that saw the line shrink and shrink, the Seminoles showed that they are still in that national title conversation.

There's still a lot to improve on. The defense struggled to get going until the last second and vice versa, the offense sputtered at the end of regulation. FSU had the chance to close out late in the fourth, as Clemson kicker Jonathan Weitz missed on a 29-yard field goal attempt with what was likely the go-ahead score.

The offense got the ball back but failed to find the end zone. However, all of that is being bumped into next week's practices for the Seminoles. Norvell and Travis finally get their win over Clemson and FSU snaps a decade-long drought in the valley.

The Seminoles could not ask for a better situation going into the bye week.

This article originally appeared on Tallahassee Democrat: Florida State topples Clemson to take control of ACC