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Game story: Seminoles run game on display in 47-7 opening win

The Seminoles unleash their rushing attack

Syndication: Tallahassee Democrat Alicia Devine/Tallahassee Democrat / USA TODAY NETWORK

The Florida State Seminoles took to Bobby Bowden field on Saturday to kick off their season against the Duquesne Dukes. Headlining their “week 0” matchup, quarterback Jordan Travis accounted for 207 yards on 15 attempts and a touchdown in the Seminoles’ first season-opening win since 2016 against Ole Miss. The rushing attack was on full display today having three rushers pass the 100-yard mark (the first time in school history) and five different players scoring rushing touchdowns.

After an hour-long weather delay, the Seminoles took to the field surrounded by cheers from a soaking wet crowd eager to start the season. The Dukes won the coin toss and deferred the ball to the ‘Noles.

After a short kickoff return, the offense got the ball rolling with running back Treshaun Ward with four runs for 38-yards. Running back Lawrence Toafili was also able to move sticks and a completion to Mycah Pittman moved the ‘Noles into the red zone. The offense was able to showcase its run game with Toafili, Ward, and Trey Benson ending with a touchdown run by Jordan Travis. The Seminoles went for two with a trick play pass from tight end Wyatt Rector but it fell incomplete.

It seemed the defense was holding strong until a late hit out of bounds by defensive back Jarrion Jones allowed the Dukes to move the chains but after tackles for loss by edge Jared Verse and sideline tackles by Kalen DeLoach, Duquesne was forced to punt.

Focusing heavily on the run game, Travis managed to find Johnny Wilson one on one for a 51-yard catch (his first in an FSU uniform under the lights.) Toafili punched the ball in for a 4-yard touchdown the next play. Wilson is 6’7 so leaving him on an island with anyone can be dangerous.

Big runs by Trey Benson and a 20-yard completion put the ‘Noles in the red zone for the third time in just as many drives and on 3rd and seven the Duke’s line jumped offsides moving the offense to 3rd and two. Ward was able to score.

*FSU’s record for most points in a quarter under head coach Mike Norvell was last season against UMass (28) the 20 scored today tied for second with Jacksonville State in 2020.

The defense allowed running back Demarcus Ware a 20-yard gain saved by linebacker Amari Gainer which was the first time Duke crossed midfield. Quarterback Joel Mischler attempted a couple of passes to receiver Abdul Janneh but the Seminoles’ secondary was there to stop them with nice pass breakups by Jammie Robinson and Jarrion Jones. The Duke’s field-goal attempt was no good.

Starting at the 30, Travis attempted a 40-yard pass to Malik McClain and the chains moved due to a pass interference flag. Benson seemed to not be able to be brought down breaking tackle after tackle for 16-yards. The Noles started to utilize Pittman more in the second quarter with an 18-yard gain. From the 10-yard line, they were unable to convert and opted for a field goal.

The defense took the bait on a play-action swing pass to Logan Lutz on 3rd and one for a 12-yard gain. Stops by Briggs, Verse, and Green forced the Dukes to punt.

Staying strong with the running game, Toafili ran for 14 and 19 yards. The rotation in the running back room has been solid in putting each back's skillset on display. Sprinkling option plays in with Travis seemed to keep the Duquesne defense on their toes. The second penalty of the game for the Seminoles was an offsides moving them to the 17-yard line taking away from a 20-yard run by Ward where he broke four tackles. Kentron Poitier moved the team closer but they opted for a field goal. The Seminoles scored on 8 out of 10 drives on the day.

Jordan Travis took a big shot to wide receiver Kentron Poitier for 48 yards off a bad snap. The pass looked about as good as any and to combat much criticism, he was very accurate on the night finishing with a passer rating of 189. Ward scored off of two red-zone runs slipping tackles. All of the running backs showed their elusiveness and slipperiness.

With the Seminoles in such a commanding lead, quarterback Tate Rodemaker was placed under center. Rodemaker was intercepted on his second pass of the game by Ryan Webb leading to the Duke’s first score of the game.

Rodemaker’s first completion of the night went to Poitier on a curl for 6-yards followed by a 43-yard touchdown run by Benson. Freshman lineman Bryson Estes was able to pave the way with a huge block.

*Jared Verse recorded his first sack playing in the ACC on a 3rd and long. Not only was it his first but the first one for the defense.

Along with firsts, freshman running back Rodney Hill got his first game-day carry (and his first touchdown later on) in the Garnet and Gold. AJ Duffy also took his first in-game reps as a Nole with his first completion for 10-yards. The remainder of the game allowed for backups to get live in-game reps and to put out some solid film for critiquing heading into next week.

  • Final score — FSU 47, Duquesne 7
  • Total offense — 638-yards (406 rushing, 232 passing)
  • Total defense — 55 tackles ( 1 sack, 6 TFL)
  • Leading tackler(s) — Verse (1 sack 1.5 TFL), Robinson, Bethune, Gainer, Graham, Lundy (1 TFL) tied with 4
  • Leading rusher — Treshaun Ward (127-yards, 2 touchdowns, 9.1 avg)
  • Leading receiver — Kentron Poitier (4 catches for 84-yards)

*Stats provided by