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“Definitely the best defense we played all year,” Lynch said. “They were always in the right spot at the right time, it seemed like. They were hungry out there.”

Lynch came into the game leading the nation in rushing and total offense, and he threw or ran on nearly every play for the Huskies. But he completed only 15 of 41 attempts for 176 yards, and carried 23 times for 44 yards.

The junior became the first player in NCAA history to surpass 3,000 yards passing and 1,500 rushing in a season.

After the Huskies’ lone touchdown cut their deficit to 17-10 in the third quarter, they recovered an onside kick, and Lynch moved them to the Florida State 23. But he was flushed from the pocket on third down and threw an ill-advised pass that Terrence Brooks intercepted.

“It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to force the ball there,” Lynch said.

The loss was Rod Carey’s debut as the Huskies’ coach. He was promoted to replace Dave Doeren, who took the North Carolina State job after the regular season.

“I’m upset,” Carey said. “Florida State is a well-oiled machine. They beat us, no doubt. That doesn’t change the fact I don’t like to lose.”

Doeren watched the game from the stands.

When Florida State dropped no one deep defending an early fourth-and-1 situation, Lynch pooched a 52-yard punt that rolled dead at the 5. The poor field position didn’t faze the Seminoles, who scored in four plays, the last when Pryor broke into the clear near midfield and outran the Huskies’ secondary.

With the Seminoles up only 7-3, Manuel moved them 82 yards in the final 3:57 of the first half for another touchdown with 11 seconds left. He threw on the move for a 6-yard score to Rashad Greene, who managed to get one foot inbounds before he tumbled out of the end zone.

Desroy Maxwell took a short snap on a fake punt on fourth and 3 and ran 35 yards to set up a field goal for the Huskies’ first score.

“You’ve got to play to win,” Carey said of the trick plays. “We saw some things. We knew we had it. Gosh darn, our kids executed it.”

But his team’s offense struggled to sustain anything. Lynch passed, ran or punted on 28 of 29 plays for Northern Illinois’ offense in the first half, and the Seminoles were geared to stop him.

He finally got the Huskies going in the third quarter, when they mounted an 87-yard touchdown drive. He threw deep to Akeem Daniels for 55 yards, then hit Martel Moore for an 11-yard score.

That was it for Northern Illinois, though. This was the Seminoles’ night.

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