The camera flashes flickered in the crowd and the sound of the Star Spangled Banner playing on a fiddle rang through the stadium in front of a full house of 68,388 fans in the Caesars Superdome as they waited eagerly for the Louisiana Allstate Kickoff on Sunday night.
The Florida State Seminoles and the LSU Tigers faced off for the 10th time in the series and the game lived up to the hype.
To start the game, LSU won the coin toss and chose to receive the ball first. Their first drive started on the 35-yard line and following a 25-yard run from LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, a late hit from defensive back Renardo Green moved the defense back 15-yards. The Seminole defense was able to hold the Tigers to a 36-yard field goal on their first drive after a forced incompletion and a bad snap over Daniels’ head.
The Seminoles’ first drive took a few plays to get settled in with a penalty both on offense and defense but quarterback Jordan Travis looked accurate and poised with completions to wide receiver Johnny Wilson and tight end Camren McDonald. However, the Noles were unable to make it into the end zone and kicker Ryan Fitzgerald missed the field goal from 48-yards.
In the first quarter, the receivers were reliable enough to move the chains on critical 3rd downs which is what some people said would make the difference in this game. McDonald had two crucial conversions with the longest pass going to Johnny Wilson for 14-yards. It wasn’t enough to put points on the board but the defense held strong with half sacks by Dennis Briggs and Kalen DeLoach. DeLoach ended the half with five solo tackles that came in key moments.
The first score for the Seminoles was a 39-yard reverse touchdown pass to Ontaria Wilson giving the Noles their first lead of the game. With the offense cooking, it seemed the weak point was the kicking game giving the Tigers a favorable field position on multiple possessions throughout the game.
LSU’s offense in the first half seemed to only be able to move the ball by Jaiden Daniels’ legs while leaving his receivers wide open on islands. In the red zone, major tackles for loss by Renardo Green and Fabian Lovett who were able to get in the backfield consistently, and Jared Verse shut down a Tiger’s field goal attempt by tipping the ball as he leaped above the pile.
Another look at field goal block from Jared Verse #FSU pic.twitter.com/br9n2aZUT8— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) September 5, 2022
Mike Norvell called a few interesting timeouts in the first half, one at 3rd and 5 and another following a big run by LSU quarterback Daniels. Both of them seemed to help the team get organized because the defense shut down the Tiger’s drive and the offense was able to convert. Tight end Wyatt Rector recovered a muffed punt but the offense was unable to turn it into points after failing on a 4th and two.
Jordan Travis went 9-15 for 110-yards and a touchdown in the first half. Jared Verse and Derek McLendon provided the pressure needed off the edge and the defense finished the half with a sack.
*Kalen DeLoach and Dennis Briggs Jr. combined for another sack.
First half offense for #FSU:— Ben Meyerson (@ByBenMeyerson) September 5, 2022
6-9 on third down
7.3 yards per attempt (passing)
3.3 yards per attempt (rushing)
166 total yards
The defense dominated the first half only allowing a field goal and blocking another.
First half defense for FSU:— MAX (@maxescarpio) September 5, 2022
Getting the ball to start the 3rd. the Seminoles were able to make it into the red zone to start the half off with runs by Treshaun Ward and a clutch 3rd down conversion catch by Johnny Wilson but had to settle for a field goal after three attempts at the end zone to make the score 10-3.
Jordan Travis had the offense humming in the third quarter and an impressive 27-yard one-handed catch by Ontaria Wilson gave the ‘Noles seven. Wilson accounted for 14 of the offense's 24 points.
*LSU lineman Ali Gaye was ejected for targeting on Wilson’s touchdown.
The final moments of the game were something some FSU fans were all too familiar with only this time, instead of leaving the stadium angry with a last-second loss, the Seminole family will take to the streets of New Orleans to celebrate the ‘Noles 2-0 start to the season. There are some things that need to be cleaned up though, the defense allowed a 99-yard drive with a potential game-tying PAT. Defensive back Shyheim Brown ended their hopes for overtime by blocking the final kick which left the stadium in awe.
#FSU radio call on the game-saving PAT block by Shyheim Brown:— Tomahawk Nation (@TomahawkNation) September 5, 2022
Wide receivers Mycah Pittman and Ontaria Wilson proved to be reliable targets, but really all of the receivers had their moments which was what needed to happen to come out with a victory. Jordan Travis did everything he needed to do and you couldn’t have asked for a better performance. He was accurate throwing for 260 yards and two touchdowns with a passer rating of 154.4 making throws in tight windows and really showing off his play-making ability on the run.
Kalen DeLoach (7 tackles - 5 solo) Jared Verse (2 sacks, blocked field goal)
Jordan Travis, Ontaria Wilson
Special teams MVPs
Wyatt Rector, Jared Verse, Shyheim Brown. The entire unit ended the day with two blocked kicks (field goal and PAT and two fumble recoveries)
FSU 24, LSU 23