Virginia native E.J. Manuel threw for 326 yards and three touchdowns, including the winning 39-yard score to Rashad Greene with 40 seconds to play, and eighth-ranked Florida State kept their ACC title hopes alive by knocking off upset-minded Virginia Tech, 28-22, in Blacksburg, Va.
Greene finished with 125 yards and two touchdowns for the Seminoles (9-1, 6-1 ACC), who inched closer to earning its first Atlantic Division title since 2005. A win next week at Maryland will assure the Seminoles a spot in the ACC championship game and a shot at their first BCS bowl game in seven years.
This one didn't come easy, as a Florida State rushing attack which entered the night 14th in the FBS at 234.6 yards per game was held to minus-15 yards by an inspired Virginia Tech (4-6, 2-4) defense. Florida State also had to overcome a gaffe from running back Devonta Freeman, who nearly tossed away their division title hopes — literally.
The Hokies trailed, 20-17, midway through the fourth quarter when Freeman got caught in his end zone and desperately tossed the ball forward, which resulted in an illegal forward pass and a safety. That cut the Seminoles' lead to 20-19 with just under seven minutes to play. J.C. Coleman returned the ensuing punt 34 yards to the Virginia Tech 44-yard line and Cody Journell's second field goal gave the Hokies a 22-20 lead with 2:19 left.
But Manuel, who finished 25 of 42 passing with an interception, executed a textbook two-minute drill. He capped the 68-yard drive by hitting Greene on a slant and the sophomore raced across the field untouched for a 39-yard touchdown. The 2-point conversion made it 28-22, and Tyler Hunter's interception of Logan Thomas at the Seminoles' 33-yard line sealed the win.
The Hokies lost for the fifth time in six games and will have to beat Boston College and Virginia in their final regular-season games to qualify for a bowl game for the 20th straight year.
Lattimore to miss out
Injured South Carolina tailback Marcus Lattimore won’t attend the 12th-ranked Gamecocks contest with Arkansas on Saturday.
The school said that Lattimore, Dr. Jeffrey Guy, and head trainer Clint Haggard agreed that Lattimore should not attend. Gamecocks coach Steve Spurrier had said earlier in the week that Lattimore would be on hand when the school unveiled signage at Williams-Brice Stadium honoring the junior for his school career-best 38 rushing touchdowns.
Lattimore, who suffered a gruesome right knee injury against Tennessee two weeks ago, had surgery last Friday to repair several knee ligaments.
The school says Lattimore is in good spirits and started his rehabilitation. He finished the season with 662 yards and 11 touchdowns.
A&M coach is out
Florida A&M coach Joe Taylor announced he’s stepping down immediately.
Florida A&M was 3-6 (3-3 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference) under Taylor, who had been one of the most successful coaches in the Football Championship Subdivision.
Taylor had experienced only two losing seasons in 25 years before he replaced Rubin Carter on Dec. 31, 2007. Taylor concludes his coaching career with a 233-96-4 record.
Houston’s Hayden stable
Houston cornerback D.J. Hayden was hospitalized in ‘‘stable, yet critical’’ condition after tearing a vein in a collision with a teammate during practice. Team physician Walter Lowe said in a statement from the school that the senior was taken by ambulance to Memorial Hermann Hospital after the collision late Tuesday afternoon. Hayden was rushed into immediate surgery for a tear of the inferior vena cava, the large vein that carries blood from the lower half of the body to the heart. Lowe says that type of injury is fatal ‘‘95 percent’’ of the time. Hayden leads Conference USA with four interceptions . . . A Tennessee State freshman defensive back collapsed during practice and was later declared dead at a hospital Wednesday. William Wayne Jones III, a freshman walk-on, had just caught a ball and was throwing it to defensive backs coach Ed Sanders when he collapsed.