|Florida State players hoist the ACC Championship trophy after holding off Georgia Tech. (US Presswire)|
Florida State (11-1) won its first ACC championship in seven years with a 21-15 win over Georgia Tech (6-7) on Saturday night in Charlotte.
Florida State was held scoreless in the second half, just the fifth and sixth scoreless quarters of the season for the Seminoles, and Georgia Tech rallied to make it a one-possession game in the fourth quarter.
When the game turned: Williams intercepted Washington's pass, intended for RB Robert Godhigh, at the Georgia Tech 45 and returned it to the 4-yard line, sealing the Florida State victory after Georgia Tech had taken control of the game's momentum in the second half. “I thought if I made a better throw and put it on the outside, he would have had a chance to catch the ball and get up the field. But I kind of left it inside, and they made a play on the ball,” Washington said.
Highlight moments: After a 20-yard punt ended Georgia Tech's first drive, Florida State QB EJ Manuel completed a 21-yard pass to Lonnie Pryor on the Seminoles' first offensive play of the game. Prior took the ball to the Yellow Jackets' 22-yard-line, and five plays later, Florida State had a 7-0 lead. … Early in the second quarter, Wilder took a handoff around right end and broke three Yellow Jackets' tackle attempts on his way to a 16-yard touchdown run that put the Seminoles up 14-0. … Just before halftime, at third-and-13 from the Georgia Tech 30, Washington threw to WR Jeff Greene, who caught the ball at the goal line and stepped on the end-zone pylon. But the pylon is out of bounds, wiping off the apparent touchdown and forcing Tech's second field goal.
Significance of Florida State's victory: The Seminoles won their 13th ACC Championship and first since 2005 -- the first year the ACC had a Championship Game. Florida State earned a BCS berth and will head to the Orange Bowl where its most-likely opponent is Louisville.
Significance of Georgia Tech's loss: The Yellow Jackets dropped to 6-7, but they already have received a waiver from the NCAA allowing them to be bowl-eligible despite a sub-.500 record. A return trip to the Sun Bowl, scene of their loss to Utah last season, is a possibility.
- Seminoles RB Wilder -- 10 rushes for 69 yards, 2 TDs
- Seminoles S Williams -- 8 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, INT
- Seminoles WR Rashad Greene -- 9 catches for 82 yards, 1 rush for 18 yards
- Seminoles RB Devonta Freeman -- 13 rushes for 59 yards, TD
- Yellow Jackets RB David Sims -- 19 rushes for 91 yards
- Yellow Jackets LB Jeremiah Attaochu -- 6 solo tackles, 3 assisted tackles, 2 sacks
- Yellow Jackets QB Washington -- 4 of 14 for 76 yards, 10 rushes for 20 yards, TD
What they said:
- Williams on the interception: “They were trying to get the ball downfield and running the hurry-up. I was covering the 3-receiver as he came across and the quarterback threw a pretty bad ball. I tried to bat it down, but it tipped up in the air, and I just stayed with it.”
- Williams on the team's attitude going into the game off of a loss: “Coach said you can't look back. If you're looking in the rear-view mirror, you'll crash and end up dying.”
- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher on the second half: “We kept shooting ourselves in the foot with penalties, lined up wrong, we'd get a drive going and have a fumble, but we did enough to win the game.”
- Georgia Tech coach Paul Johnson on the second-half turnaround: “We didn't do a whole lot of adjustments and changes from the first to the second half. We just turned the dial up a little bit and guys played.”
- Johnson on falling to 6-7: “We've still got one left. We're not through.”
- Washington on the difference between the first and second halves: “We stopped killing ourselves on drives and started making the routine plays.”
Numbers you should know: Washington rushed for his 19th touchdown of the season, an ACC record for quarterbacks. The previous record was 18 by Joshua Nesbitt in 2008. … Manuel became the seventh Florida State quarterback to throw for 3,000 yards in a season. … Georgia Tech has gone over 20,000 yards rushing the last five seasons, which is the equivalent of 11.36 miles -- the distance from Bobby Dodd Stadium to the Atlanta airport. … Georgia Tech had 143 yards on its first seven drives, and 131 on its next two.
(For more on the ACC title game, check out CBSSports.com's Eye on College Football blog)
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis from ACC bloggers Shawn Krest and Sean Bielawski, follow @CBSSportsACC.