TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher called a fourth-quarter penalty for blocking below the waist that negated a long run by the Seminoles "gutless" and said he welcomed a fine for criticizing ACC officials after a 37-34 loss to Clemson on Saturday night.
No. 12 Florida State led 28-26 with about 11 minutes remaining in the game when the penalty occurred. Dalvin Cook, who scored on a long touchdown run during the Seminoles' prior possession, sprang free for a 41-yard run. Fullback Freddie Stevenson cleared space for Cook on the play, but an official called Stevenson for an illegal block below the waist. The Florida State sideline was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct while arguing the call, and the Seminoles punted four plays later.
The run could have helped the Seminoles extend their lead to two scores. Instead, Clemson kicked a go-ahead field goal on its ensuing possession.
"It was ridiculous," Fisher said. "It was not a chop, it was a not chop. I will tell you what: You hold coaches accountable, you hold players accountable, hold the damn officials accountable. It is garbage, and then to call another penalty on the sideline is even more garbage. It's cowardly, gutless and wrong.
"They can take it, fine it, do whatever they want to do with that. That's a fact. Look at the film. It's ridiculous that they do that. That was a huge call in the game. Now, still had chances to win the game after that [but] that was ridiculous and the guy wasn't even in position to make the call."
When in the open field, players are allowed to only block below the waist if the initial contact comes from the front.
Fisher said the officials could not give him an explanation for the penalty.
Florida State retook the lead with 3:23 left, but Clemson's Deshaun Watson responded with a 34-yard, game-winning touchdown to Jordan Leggett less than 90 seconds later. Cook said the illegal block call stole the Seminoles' momentum, but he stopped short of saying it cost the team a win.
"It's something we've been doing all year. It wasn't a flag. It was a legal block," said Cook, who finished with 169 yards and four touchdowns. "Freddie came out of the backfield. It's a penalty you can't take back. It's a call you can't make in a game like that. It was a bad call."
A fourth-quarter targeting call against safety Trey Marshall also drew the ire of Fisher. Clemson scored on all three possessions after Marshall was ejected. He led the team with 11 tackles.
Fisher said he also thought Clemson should have been called for targeting on a hit that knocked quarterback Deondre Francois from the game for one play.
"It was targeting on [Francois]. When he got in the belly and knocked out, the crown of the helmet hit him right in the chest," Fisher said. "He gets killed at Miami and we don't call it and gets killed here. Both of them were real bad."