ACC Championship: How the game was won

December 8, 2013 

Breaking down four key plays in FSU’s victory over Duke in the ACC Championship:

Cockrell, Cash force early turnover

•  Score: FSU 0, Duke 0, 11:20 left in first quarter.

•  Situation: FSU ball, 2nd-and-10 at Duke 25.

•  The play: FSU quarterback Jameis Winston handed off to Devonta Freeman, who busted through Duke's line for 22 yards before Ross Cockrell forced a fumble that Jeremy Cash recovered at the 3.

•  Why it mattered: Cockrell's strip might have saved a touchdown. FSU would have had it 1st-and-goal from the 3. It was just the type of early break Duke needed and was a key reason FSU failed to score in the first quarter for the first time all season.

Winston finds his groove

•  Score: FSU 0, Duke 0, 13 minutes left in second quarter.

•  Situation: FSU ball, 3rd-and-8 from Duke 26.

•  The play: Winston hit tight end Nick O'Leary on a crossing route for a 12-yard gain and first down.

•  Why it mattered: Winston started the game 1-for-6. He settled down on this drive, connecting on all four intermediate throws. One play after hitting Leary, Winston beat double coverage by throwing a perfect ball to Kelvin Benjamin to give FSU a 7-0 lead.

Winston stayed hot after Duke's Anthony Boone threw an interception, completing three more passes for 47 yards as FSU drove 73 yards for a 14-0 lead late in second quarter.

Blitzing Boone

•  Score: FSU 17, Duke 0, early third quarter.

•  Situation: Duke ball, 3rd-and-9 at its 27.

•  The play: With Boone in the shotgun, FSU sent Nate Andrews on a corner blitz. Andrews hit Boone just as he was throwing, forcing a pop-up that linebacker Telvin Smith dived and caught at Duke's 26.

•  Why it mattered: FSU scored three plays later when Winston took advantage of a Duke blitz and hit a wide open Kenny Shaw for an 11-yard touchdown pass and 24-0 lead.

Winston adds to Heisman case

•  Score: FSU 24, Duke 0, 6:45 left in third quarter.

•  The situation: FSU ball, 1st-and-10 at its 46.

•  The play: Benjamin, lined out outside, ran a go route. Winston hit him in stride, and Benjamin did the rest, resulting in a 54-yard touchdown and 31-0 FSU lead.

•  Why it mattered: In terms of the game, Duke’s offense hadn’t shown any signs of being able to come back, but Winston’s third touchdown pass no doubt helped his Heisman campaign. He later added a 17-yard touchdown run after FSU’s dominant defense forced another Duke turnover.

Chris Wright

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