FLORIDA STATE — The Florida State Seminoles took to their home field on Saturday afternoon to face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in what would lead to a landslide victory, 41-16, highlighted by big catches from WR Johnny Wilson, RB Lawrence Toafili, RB Trey Benson and a defense playing full throttle, but shadowed by penalties, some questionable, some not.
The FSU defense forced a quick three-and-out to start the game, and a brief injury timeout ensued following an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty against Georgia Tech. The offense seemingly got off to a fast start but dropped passes by WR Kentron Poiter and TE Preston Daniel halted their efforts, and on 4th and short, they were unable to convert.
The defense held, forcing a 29-yard punt from Gavin Stewart. However, some of that was negated by a false start by RB Trey Benson on the following play. It seemed the Seminole offense was still shaking off the dust of the bye week.
Here is a question. Do you think the 4th down play calling by head coach Mike Norvell was his uncertainty in the kicking game, or is he just bold and extremely confident in his defense in that matchup?
A critical fumble by running back Lawrance Toafili at the one-yard line almost cost the Noles six, but Jordan Travis was able to chase down LB Charlie Thomas. The FSU defense held, only allowing a field goal.
Mike Norvell said after the game that “We had some young guys whose eyes were getting too big and weren't in the right places.” which were some of the reasons for the mistakes.
A seemingly sloppy first quarter for the Noles offense was brought into focus by a six-yard touchdown run by Toafili, which ignited the crowd. Penalties haunted both teams in the first half, and Travis was able to find WR Johnny Wilson for a 78-yard touchdown bomb in which he showed off his mobility and speed to take it to the house.
*Wilson is the leading receiver on the team with 603-yards, 111 of which came from today.
Turnovers seemed to plague the Seminoles on the day, with Toafili fumbling another ball, but the defense did not waver. Defensive end Jared Verse made his presence known early ending the day with five tackles, 2.5 for loss, and a half sack.
Creating turnovers isn’t easy against any team, but they are critical in building momentum. CB Renardo Green dropped a bad pass thrown by Georgia Tech quarterback Zach Pyron that should’ve put the Seminoles in a great field position. The Noles went into this matchup with four interceptions on the season.
The latter half of the second quarter proved to be the jolt that FSU needed, and after a questionable pass interference call on Johnny Wilson that negated a 43-yard completion to TE Camren McDonald, Travis found Toafili streaming down the sidelines for a 62-yard touchdown on the following play giving him his second touchdown pass of the game.
From Tomahawk Nation’s Max Escarpio on the defense:
GT’s offense had no answer for Florida State’s defensive front. The Seminoles bulldozed their way into the pocket multiple times, resulting in long attempts for the Yellow Jackets, including a third and 29 call. Following a touchdown from the Noles, Florida State earned a sack on the first defensive play and just one yard on second down. The Seminoles defensive front was looking phenomenal with the help of Lovett back in the lineup.
At the half, Georgia Tech had more penalty yards than total yards 7-87, which isn’t surprising given some of the referee calls, but FSU was not far behind with seven penalties for 60-yards.
The Noles would go into the second half off a 34-yard field goal kick from K Ryan Fitzgerald, who has since rebounded from a few bad kicks after switching his approach back to a two-step.
Half Time Stats
- Passing - Jordan Travis (15-24, 270 yards, two touchdowns)
- Rushing - Trey Benson (11-68, 22-yard long)
- Receiving - Johnny Wilson (87-yards on two receptions, one touchdown)
- Leading tackler - Jammie Robinson (six total, 1.5 TFL)
FSU 24, Georgia Tech 3
Georgia Tech elected to try an onside kick to start the half and was able to recover. Onside kicks really do seem to be a touchy subject in Tallahassee, as the Noles were unable to recover their own in their last game against the Clemson Tigers. The play proved to be successful in giving the Yellow Jackets some life, and they were able to find the paint on a pass to EJ Jenkins.
Backed up behind the chains on third and long, gadget receiver Mycah Pittman was able to keep the drive alive with a 12-yard reception followed by a 17-yard blast by Toafili, putting the Noles at mid-field. Following an incompletion to Pittman, J. Wilson helped convert a third and forever on a 24-yard pass bringing the Noles to the 30-yard line.
The offense has been without Ja’Khi Douglas for most of the season, and he came up big for them with a 24-yard touchdown giving FSU a 31-10 lead. Douglas would go on to finish the night with four receptions for 63-yards and a score.
Any light at the end of the tunnel for the Yellow Jacket offense was quickly demolished with a 7-yard tackle for loss by Jared Verse and Kalen DeLoach, but an offsides penalty on the next play gave them most of those yards back; they were still forced to punt.
Jordan Travis passed his career-high of 321 passing yards on that scoring drive finishing the game with 396 (24-38, three TDs.)
A highlight of the Noles’ sixth scoring drive was a beautiful catch by WR Ontaria Wilson 24-yard reception, the drive would end in a field goal after Travis was unable to connect with J. Wilson on multiple attempts in the red zone.
The defense started to lose its steam in the fourth quarter, giving up big plays by missed tackles and blown coverages. However, Georgia Tech has some very talented receivers, just no one to get the ball to them, with starting quarterback Jeff Sims out of the game.
The backups came in to seal the victory, and RB Rodney Hill got a chance to show off his potential again by rushing for 41 and 6.8 YPC, but he might’ve been a little outshined by the return of RB CJ Campbell. Hill is going to be a special back if he continues on his current trajectory.
Campbell took his first snaps of the season after previously being ruled out with an injury and recorded his first career touchdown on a seven-yard rush. His speedy return was remarkable, and teammate Jared Verse had this to say:
“It’s just really satisfying to, you know, one of my brothers, one of my close family, seeing their hard work pay off it meant so much to me and seeing him smile and cheesing off the field when he’s running off.”
The Noles proved that they can bounce back after three straight losses in a game that looked good at some points and bad at others. The scoreboard doesn't tell the whole story, though; it’s what a Florida State vs. Georgia Tech score should look like. However, all three phases of their game weren’t firing in harmony. The highs and lows were there still, and missed opportunities padded the scoreboard even though they won 41-16. Both teams finished the day with over 100-yards in penalties which cannot happen moving forward. But give credit where credit is due. They fought hard and won and will now look ahead, going on the road to Coral Gables to face the Miami Hurricanes in prime time.
End of Game Stats
- Passing - Jordan Travis (124-38, 396 yards, three touchdowns)
- Rushing - Trey Benson (18 rushing, 111-yards, 27-yard long)
- Receiving - Lawrance Toafili (five receptions, on five targets, 68-yards, one touchdown)
- Leading tackler - Jammie Robinson (10 total, 1.5 TFL)
- Total yards - 642 (396 pass, 246 rush) *The most total yards since 2016
FSU 41, Georgia Tech 16