WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (AP) — E.J. Manuel came back for No. 23 Florida State. So did a bunch of familiar, unwelcome problems.
Wake Forest handed the Seminoles their third straight loss Saturday, beating them 35-30 behind Tanner Price’s three touchdown passes and Josh Harris’ 136 yards rushing. That spoiled Manuel’s first game action in three weeks.
The junior hadn’t played since injuring his non-throwing shoulder in the loss to Oklahoma on Sept. 17, and finished 19 of 35 for 286 yards with two touchdowns.
But he also threw two interceptions as part of the Seminoles’ first five-turnover game since 2009 — Wake Forest scored 17 points off those giveaways — and they finished with 13 penalties for 109 yards.
Florida State (2-3, 0-2 ACC) averages three turnovers when it loses and one when it wins, and cracked triple digits in penalty yardage for the second straight game.
“Very disappointing performance. We had the same issues,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Five turnovers, you can’t win a football game. Thirteen penalties, you can’t win a football game.”
Clint Trickett, a redshirt freshman making his second straight start, was pulled after his third turnover — two interceptions and a fumble — in favor of Manuel, who missed Florida State’s last game with an injured left shoulder.
Trickett finished 6 of 11 for 29 yards with two interceptions.
“They told me (Manuel) could play, but one good shot could set us back six weeks,” Fisher said. “He could go in an emergency if we had to have him. … The way the game was going, and we had some turnovers … it was an emergency.”
Price and Harris helped the Demon Deacons (4-1, 3-0) win their fourth straight and open league play with three wins for the first time in school history. Those ACC victories have come by a total 20 points.
“We’re a football team that’s good enough to beat you, but we’re not good enough to get away from you,” coach Jim Grobe said. A 10-point underdog, Wake Forest trailed for only about five minutes of the first half, led the entire second half and rolled up 391 yards against one of the ACC’s toughest defenses. Florida State (2-3, 0-2) entered giving up just 257 total yards per game.
Somehow, the Demon Deacons — and a roster that includes 30 Florida natives — seem to have the Seminoles figured out.
Wake Forest has won four of six in the series, and each of its previous three teams to beat Florida State went on to play in bowl games. The Demon Deacons’ last three victories over Top 25 teams also have come at the Seminoles’ expense.
“We can’t sit all year and be like, ‘We beat Florida State. Our season’s over now,'” Harris said. “We have another tough game next week (Virginia Tech).” Manuel threw a 2-yard scoring pass to Kenny Shaw to make it a five-point game with 54 seconds left, but he overthrew Nick O’Leary in the corner of the end zone on the two-point conversion.
Givens then recovered the onside kick for Wake Forest to seal it. Manuel also threw a 46-yard touchdown pass to Rashad Greene for the turnover-prone Seminoles. The preseason ACC favorites have lost three straight for the first time since 2009. James Wilder Jr. and Ty Jones had 3-yard touchdown runs for Florida State.
“When one side (of the ball) is playing well and the other side needs stops, we’re not getting them,” Fisher said. “When the (defense) is getting stops and the other side needs to convert, we’re not doing it. … We’re not playing as a unit, as a team, as an organization, together, and we’ve got to figure out why it’s not.”
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