Cook leads Florida State past Syra­cuse

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - SPORTS - By John Kekis AP Sports Writer

SYRA­CUSE >> Dalvin Cook ran for 225 yards and four touch­downs to be­come Florida State’s ca­reer rush­ing leader, and the 17th-ranked Semi­noles beat Syra­cuse 45-14 on Satur­day.

Cook en­tered the game need­ing 19 yards to break War­rick Dunn’s 20-year old school record for rush­ing (3,959) and did so with a 41-yarder in the first quar­ter. He fin­ished the first half with 104 yards to be­come just the sixth player in At­lantic Coast Con­fer­ence his­tory to reach 4,000 yards and the first to do it in three years.

Florida State (8-3, 5-3, No. 17 CFP) won for the fifth time in six games and handed Syra­cuse (4-7, 2-5) its third straight loss.

Syra­cuse start­ing quar­ter­back Eric Dungey again warmed up be­fore the open­ing kick­off but did not play for the sec­ond straight game. The sopho­more has been out since suf­fer­ing a vi­cious hit to the shoul­der­head area in the first quar­ter against Clem­son two weeks ago.

Backup Zack Ma­honey had trou­ble gen­er­at­ing any con­sis­tency on of­fense against the Semi­noles de­fense. Florida State in­ter­cepted two passes, reg­is­tered eight sacks, and forced 10 punts in lim­it­ing the Orange to 3.2 yards per play. FSU av­er­aged 8.6 yards per play. Ma­honey fin­ished 16 of 36 for 196 yards, but he did have one lucky strike. He hit Amba Etta-Tawo with a 46-yard Hail Mary on the fi­nal play of the first half. Etta-Tawo caught the ball in dou­ble cov­er­age at the right cor­ner of the end zone.

If Syra­cuse had hopes the big play would pro­vide a spark, Cook dashed those hopes with three touch­downs in the third.

Af­ter tight end Ryan Izzo’s 39-yard reception on the first pos­ses­sion of the third quar­ter, Cook scored on an 11-yard run and added two more scores in the pe­riod, from 11 and 17 yards. That matched his ca­reer high for TDs in a game and boosted his sea­son to­tal to 18.

Cook also had 47 yards on Florida State’s third scor­ing drive, cap­ping it with a 25-yard TD run for a 21-0 lead in the sec­ond.

The Semi­noles scored on their first two pos­ses­sions. Deon­dre Fran­cois hit Nyqwan Mur­ray with a 16yard TD throw to start the scor­ing and fol­lowed with a 15-yard scor­ing toss to Travis Ru­dolph for a 14-0 lead at 7:11 of the first quar­ter.

Florida State sacked Ma­honey four times in the first quar­ter alone, and even when Brisly Es­time gave the Orange tremen­dous field po­si­tion with a 42-yard punt re­turn into Florida State ter­ri­tory, the of­fense sput­tered with a three-and-out.

Syra­cuse got another chance to break through in the sec­ond quar­ter af­ter an in­ter­cep­tion near mid­field by cor­ner­back Christo­pher Fred­er­ick. De­spite two false starts and a bad snap, Syra­cuse still had a chance to score, but on a third-and-goal from the 9-yard line Ma­honey’s pass into the left cor­ner of the end zone was in­ter­cepted by Tar­varus McFad­den. It was his eighth pick of the sea­son, tops in the na­tion.

THE TAKE­AWAY

Florida State: The Semi­noles kept their mo­men­tum go­ing to reach an up­per-tier bowl game, and if Cook keeps up his strong sea­son and that op­por­tunis­tic de­fense con­tin­ues its stel­lar play, the Semi­noles will be dif­fi­cult to beat.

Syra­cuse: The Orange has had a dif­fi­cult time with­out Dungey. Win­ning for the fifth time this sea­son next week on the road at Pitts­burgh is nec­es­sary to even be con­sid­ered for a bowl game, but if Dungey is through for the year that will be a tall task. Pitt drilled Duke 56-14 on Satur­day.

BIG NUM­BERS

Cook has seven 100-yard games this sea­son and boosted his ca­reer rush­ing to­tal to 4,166 yards.

RE­CEIVERS GA­LORE

Fran­cois was 18 of 28 for 315 yards and com­pleted passes to six dif­fer­ent re­ceivers, led by Au­den Tate (five catches, 77 yards) and Ru­dolph (five catches, 64 yards).

POLL IM­PLI­CA­TIONS

With LSU’s loss to Florida, Florida State will move up at least a lit­tle bit in the rank­ings for both the AP Top 25 and Col­lege Foot­ball Play­offs.

NICK LISI — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Syra­cuse’s Zack Ma­honey, left, is tack­led by Florida State’s Josh Sweat, right, in the sec­ond half of Satur­day’s game at Syra­cuse.

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