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FSU kicker Hopkins goes from goat to hero in win vs. Clemson

Photo by Danny Aller

Photo by Danny Aller

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State's Dustin Hopkins got nothing but love from his teammates after missing a pair of fourth-quarter field goals last week that let North Carolina slip out of town with a win.

Hopkins couldn't wait to redeem himself. It took only a week.

The sophomore from Houston, Texas, kicked a career-best 55-yard field goal as time expired to give the Seminoles a dramatic 16-13 victory and keep them in the hunt for a berth in next month's Atlantic Coast Conference title game.

"I was thinking about last week and how disappointed that I was," said Hopkins, who also had field goals of 28 and 39 yards. "To pay them (teammates) back a little bit, that's awesome."

His winning kick Saturday night was the third-longest field goal in Florida State history and marked the first time since a 1983 win at Arizona State that Florida State won on the last play of the game, assistant athletic director Rob Wilson said.

EJ Manuel, who started in place of an injured Christian Ponder at quarterback, scored Florida State's only touchdown on an 8-yard run with 10:08 left to give the Seminoles a 13-10 lead.

Chandler Catanzaro's second field goal for Clemson -- a 29-yard kick with 53 seconds left, tied the game.

Xavier Rhodes picked off a Kyle Parker pass in the Seminoles' end zone to set up the 85-yard, 12-play drive led by Manuel.

Manuel completed 15 of 24 passes for 210 yards and ran for another 71 yards on 15 carries.

Florida State (7-3, 5-2), which snapped a two-game losing streak, is up against Maryland and North Carolina State in the ACC's jumbled Atlantic Division. Each has two losses and the Seminoles travel to Maryland next Saturday.

The loss knocked Clemson (5-5, 3-4) out of contention for any league laurels.

"This is a tough one," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "You win a lot of statistical battles but we didn't win on the scoreboard."

Clemson dominated much of the game, but missed two good scoring opportunities in the second half. Catanzaro missed a 38-field goal try in the third quarter and Rhodes' interception came as a result of receiver DeAndre Hopkins falling on the play.

The Tigers were up 10-3 at halftime, despite dominating Florida State on both sides of the ball. Clemson ran 47 plays to Florida State's 18 and had the ball for 20:08 to the Seminoles' 9:52. Florida State managed only three first downs in the first half, just one after its first two plays of the game.

Jamie Harper ran for a career-high 126 yards and Clemson's lone touchdown and caught nine passes, a school record for a running back. His 26-yard TD run culminated an 82-yard Clemson drive on the opening possession of the game. It was the fifth time this season the Tigers scored on their first drive of a game.

"I knew going in we weren't going to score a lot," Manuel said. "Their defensive line was dominant and we knew that. That was the mismatch in the game and we had to find ways to nickel and dime it."

Manuel is now 4-1 as a starter in relief of Ponder, who has been dogged by a variety of injuries all season.

"He is a carbon copy," coach Jimbo Fisher said, comparing his two quarterbacks. "We're very lucky to have both of them."

Manuel completed a 53-yard pass to Rodney Smith on his first play and then ran for 16 more on the next to set up a 26-yard field goal by Hopkins to chop Clemson's lead to 7-3.

Catanzaro's 22-yard field goal midway through the second quarter gave the Tigers their 10-3 lead.

Manuel also replaced Ponder last season for the final four games and went 3-1 in that role, winning MVP honors in Florida State's Gator Bowl victory over West Virginia. Ponder suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in a loss at Clemson.

Ponder suffered a ruptured bursa sac near the right elbow in a 24-19 win over Boston College last month and has steadily received treatment to ease the pain. He missed three practices this week.

At halftime, the Seminoles honored former linebacker Derrick Brooks by retiring his No. 10 jersey. Brooks, who went on to professional stardom with the Tampa Bay Bucs wearing No. 55, played for Florida State from 1991-1994.

Former Seminole baseball star Buster Posey was also saluted by the crowd for his key role in sparking the San Francisco Giants to their first World Series title in 56 years