TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Travis Rudolph and the Florida State defense got some much-needed confidence on Saturday.
Rudolph had a career-high 13 receptions for 238 yards while the defense held Wake Forest without a touchdown as the 14th-ranked Seminoles posted a 17-6 victory.
“Our defense was outstanding and created opportunities. Offensively we got yardage but didn’t finish drives,” coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Rudolph’s performance — which is the fourth-best receiving game in school history — offset an ugly game as both teams combined for seven turnovers. Florida State (5-2, 2-2 ACC) had four, including an uncharacteristic pair of fumbles by Dalvin Cook.
“Honestly we had self-inflicted wounds today,” Rudolph said. “When we do our jobs right we can move it up and down the field. When we mess up or something it looks like we don’t know what we are doing.”
Rudolph, a junior, was expected to be the Seminoles’ top receiver at the beginning of the season. He had a strong start with 13 receptions for 179 yards and three touchdowns the first two games but had been held to six catches for 80 yards in the past four.
When Bobo Wilson left with a foot injury in the second quarter, Rudolph got into a groove. He had six receptions for 141 yards in the first half, including a 58-yard catch on a Hail Mary where he was stopped at the Wake 1 on the last play of the first half.
“It was really disappointing. I really wanted to score,” he said.
The defense, which has been maligned most of the season for giving up big plays, matched a season high with five sacks and allowed a season-low 252 yards. It is the third time in two seasons FSU has held a team without a TD.
Florida State forced three turnovers. Cornerback Tarvarus McFadden got his fifth interception of the season, which is among the national leaders.
“We were shooting for the goose egg (no points) but no touchdowns is a pretty big thing for us. Everyone was making plays,” said defensive end DeMarcus Walker, who had two sacks.
Deondre Francois accounted for both Seminoles’ touchdowns. His 2-yard run on a quarterback keeper with 3:16 remaining in the second quarter gave them) a 10-3 lead. Francois, who was 22 of 37 for 319 yards and an interception, also threw an 11-yard touchdown in the third quarter to extend it to 17-6.
Cook had his fourth straight 100-yard game as he rushed for 115 yards on 25 carries.
Wake Forest (5-2, 2-2) drove to the FSU 25 four times but didn’t have any touchdowns. John Wolford was 16 of 34 for 184 yards and two interceptions while Cade Carney rushed for 33 yards. The Demon Deacons were held to a season-low 68 yards rushing.
“That is frustrating,” said Wake coach Dave Clawson. “We couldn’t run the ball against them. We didn’t get movement, didn’t get push and then we didn’t get enough separation on the perimeter.”
Florida State could remain ranked at No. 14 in a weekend where all of the ranked ACC teams struggled. It could be interesting if it can remain in the top 15 after this game and with a bye next week before the big game in two weeks against Clemson.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons are off to their best start since 2006 but their struggles in Tallahassee continue. This was their fourth straight loss at Doak Campbell Stadium and they haven’t scored an offensive touchdown in five straight games here — a span of 332 minutes and 38 seconds.
Florida State: Fisher was eager to see how his team responded following last week’s 20-19 win at No. 16 Miami . The defense continues to get healthy, especially the line. The momentum is important as they approach the bye week and a tough stretch the last five games, starting with Clemson.
Wake Forest: It is off next week before hosting Army on Oct. 29. Four of Wake’s final five games are at home.
Florida State: The Seminoles are also off next week before an Oct. 29 showdown at home against No. 3 Clemson.
More AP college football: http://collegfootball.ap.org