Hornibrook-led Noles finish off Wolfpack, 31-13
By Tim Linafelt
It took a little longer than usual for Florida State to find the accelerator, but that might just be how the Seminoles prefer it.
After finally building a big advantage over North Carolina State – late in the third quarter, instead of the usual early onslaught – FSU kept on rolling for a 31-13 victory in front of 60,351 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium last Saturday.
No surrendered leads or dramatic rallies this time around.
Starting in place of the injured James Blackman, quarterback Alex Hornibrook threw for 316 yards and three touchdowns for the Seminoles, who will go into next week’s open date with a 3-2 record (2-1 ACC) and having beaten NC State (3-2, 0-1) for the first time in three tries.
They’ve also won consecutive ACC games for the first time in nearly three years.
“Man,” Taggart said with a smile. “Great win for our football team.”
Taggart was pleased but not necessarily surprised.
He said that he had “a good feeling about this game” in the week leading up to it, a feeling built in part by last week’s win over Louisville as well as a week of practices that he described as “by far” the team’s best of the year.
Turns out Taggart was on to something.
Because after starting a little slowly for a change – FSU trailed 6-3 late in the second quarter – the Seminoles found their footing and blew right by the Wolfpack for their most impressive victory of the season. By far.
And they’ll get a chance for an even bigger one in two weeks, when they visit No. 1 Clemson following an open date.
“We made another step in the right direction,” Taggart said. “…I think our team is consistently getting better. Each and every week, our guys are finding ways to get better, and that’s what we talk about: trying to get 1 percent better each and every game.
“I thought we did that tonight.”
Before the game, there were a few indications that Blackman, who sustained a lower-body injury last week, would be able to play. He was in full uniform, took warm-up reps with the first-team offense and served as FSU’s offensive captain for the coin toss.
But when the FSU offense hit the field for the first time, it was Hornibrook leading the way.
The fifth-year senior, a graduate transfer from Wisconsin who made his FSU debut last week, set a new career high for passing yardage and notched his first career 300-yard game.
“He’s a veteran,” Taggart said. “He understands what it takes.”
And how to keep his receivers happy.
While Tamorrion Terry (five catches, 77 yards, two TDs) leading the way is nothing new, he was far from the only FSU receiver to have an impact.
Hornibrook completed 29 passes on 40 attempts and spread those completions to 10 different receivers.
Each caught at least two passes, and none caught more than five.
“That’s part of our offense,” Taggart said. “I think our guys are understanding that we’re not just going to have one guy with 15 receptions. There is going to be plenty of guys, and our guys are embracing that now, understanding the game is about the team. There is not as much selfish play anymore.”
Still, it was Hornibrook’s connection with Terry that turned the tide near the end of the first half.
With NC State leading and causing problems with its pass rush, the pair stemmed the tide by taking advantage of single coverage and linking up for a quick pass over the middle of the field.
The speedy Terry did the rest, outrunning NC State’s defense for a 43-yard touchdown that made it 10-6. FSU never trailed again.
“Once we get drives going, once we get that first first down and we start moving, that’s when things open up for us,” Hornibrook said. “That’s when we have a lot of success.”