TALLAHASSEE, Flaa. (AP) — Jordan Travis ran for two touchdowns and threw a scoring pass to help Florida State build a big first-half lead, and the Seminoles held off No. 5 North Carolina 31-28 on Saturday night.
Travis guided an offensive that generated 434 yards for Florida State (2-3, 1-3 Atlantic Coast Conference), but was shut out in the second half.
North Carolina quarterback Sam Howell led three second-half touchdown drives to pull to 31-28. The Tar Heels (3-1, 3-1) drove into Florida State territory but had drops on third and fourth down in the final seconds to end the comeback bid.
The Seminoles gave coach Mike Norvell a signature victory in his first season in Tallahassee following a shaky start, which included a blowout loss at Miami.
Travis, a redshirt sophomore making just his second career start, completed 8 of 19 passes for 191 yards and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Camren McDonald. He also ran 16 times for 107 yards as the Seminoles jumped out to a 31-7 halftime lead, the most dominating performance for the program in recent memory.
What followed was a nail-biting second half as the Tar Heels mounted a comeback attempt. Howell completed 20 of 36 yards for 374 yards against the Seminoles, whom he was committed to for about six months in 2018 before signing with North Carolina just weeks after Mack Brown was hired.
North Carolina was 13th in FBS in third-down conversions (51%) coming into the game, but the Tar Heels were just 2 of 11 on third-down conversions and 0 for 3 on fourth-down tries.
The Seminoles also had four sacks, surpassing its four-game total coming into the game. Janarius Robinson had two sacks, Jarvis Brownlee had a sack while Cory Durden and DJ Lundy each had half sacks.
Florida State ran for a season-high 241 yards on 36 carries, averaging 6.7 yards per carry. La’Damian Webb had 109 yards on 12 carries.
The win was the Seminoles’ first over an AP Top 25 team since Boston College on Nov. 17 2018. Florida State’s last win over a Top 10 team was No. 6 Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 30, 2016.
UNC coach Mack Brown has never beaten his alma mater in 10 meetings with Florida State. He lost three matchups at Tulane between 1985-87 and was 0-6 during his first stint in Chapel Hill going into Saturday’s game.
Florida State played without Tamorrion Terry, who had a 1,000-yard season in 2019 and underwent knee surgery on Thursday. While the Seminoles competed just eight passes, Travis was able to connect with two junior receivers early. Ontaria Wilson caught two passes for 61 yards, while Keyshawn Helton had two catches for 43 yards.
North Carolina will likely tumble, possibly out of the Top 10, when the rankings come out Sunday.
The Tar Heels looked impressive in putting up 56 points in victory last week against Virginia Tech. North Carolina controlled the time of possession and racked up yards at various points but struggled to put points on the board until the third quarter.
The Seminoles scored the most points against an FBS team this season and defeated a ranked team after losing six straight games — including double-digit losses at Miami and Notre Dame this season.