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Florida State uses explosive plays to power over Duke

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Seminoles rely on huge first quarter run to improve to 3-6, 2-6 in ACC

Don Juan Moore/Character Lines

In their first game in 28 days, a rested Florida State jumped out early on Duke (2-9, 1-9 ACC) and brought home their first win in 2020 in nearly two months. Noles took advantage of 4 Duke turnovers and rode a hot offense for the 56-35 victory.

Florida State (3-6, 2-6 ACC) started the game on a 28-0 run, and although Duke staged a mild comeback, the Blue Devils failed to slow down the big-play FSU offense in the second half. After the long layoff, a retooled Noles offense put 534 total yards and accrued 8.8 yards-per-play.

Redshirt sophomore running back Jashaun Corbin led a strong FSU ground attack with 3 touchdowns, and safety Hamsah Nasirildeen racked up 9 tackles and an interception in his just his second game back from injury.

The first of four successive scoring drives to start the game for Florida State’s offense was a 7-play, 75-yard that concluded with a Jordan Travis touchdown pass to freshman Ja’Khi Douglas from 7 yards out. Travis began the game 9-of-10 passing.

FSU continued to smoothly move the ball down the field in the opening quarter when Corbin punched his first in to go up 14-0. Suddenly reeling, Duke relinquished their first turnover of the game when Narsirildeen picked off Blue Devil quarterback Chase Brice and ran it back 25 yards in just his second game back from injury. Corbin cashed in the very next play with another score to make it 21-0.

Norvell’s Noles continued their impressive first frame, holding Duke again and rolling on their fourth possession for a fourth touchdown. This time redshirt freshman Treshaun Ward gashed Duke up the middle for his first career touchdown on the eleventh carry of his career (and first of this season).

Tables were turned on FSU in the second quarter, and turnovers again played a role. After Duke cut the lead to 28-7, the Seminoles and Blue Devils played hot potato with the ball. The two combined for three straight giveaways on three straight possessions.

With momentum now in question, Duke took advantage of a stalling FSU offense in the second quarter. Junior Mataeo Durant, with 127 yards on the day, burst through for a 64-yard rushing touchdown to cut into the Noles lead. When FSU punted it back again, Duke ran off 5 minutes of game clock and Duke head coach David Cutcliffe clashed his veteran play-calling skills with a 13-play scoring drive.

Suddenly, FSU led by just 7 late in the first half. Duke nearly tied the game up before halftime but several key penalties stalled their final drive.

Turnovers continued into the second half, as Duke received the ball but gave it right back to start the third quarter. Travis made them pay two plays later with an elusive 27-yard touchdown keeper. With 12 carries for 90 yards on the evening, the redshirt sophomore passed FSU legend Charlie Ward for most rushing yards in a season by a quarterback.

Injured on his fumble the previous drive, Brice did not return to the game for Duke. They went three-and-out their first possession without him, and gave away their fourth turnover of the game their second possession without Brice. FSU pounded the rock with Lawrance Toafili and Corbin to go back up 21 late in the third quarter.

The Noles began the fourth quarter with a bang as Douglas hauled in his second touchdown, catching a strike over the middle and racing down the middle from 68 yards out.

Duke answered with a trick-play double-pass to cut it back to 21, but Toafili came back immediately with another huge, long touchdown scamper for the Noles; the true freshman busted through for a 73-yarder on the next play from scrimmage.

Duke worked it down the field late to cut the deficit back to 21 before the Noles kneeled it out.