Let’s be totally transparent here. If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve hired NoleGameday on a few occasions for this exact breakdown, and they all follow the same structure: long introductory report detailing missions and storylines, followed by a brief explanation of the Result of the game and then a detailed report of the five games. It’s a tried-and-true format that really paints a complete picture of Florida State’s previous matchup.
Here’s the problem: This week’s matchup didn’t have an overly complex picture to paint. There were no storylines; there were no big stakes; there was no need to go out and prove anything. Simply put, Florida State was in a hot streak heading into Saturday’s competition and they were looking to continue their streak of dominant performances against the visiting Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.
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On their return to Doak Campbell Stadium after two weeks on the road, the Seminoles completely surpassed Louisiana. Florida State took an early lead and effectively put that game on hold at halftime. Mike Norvell and co. would unload the bench early, opting to give young team members, backups and walk-ons some well-deserved game time. The atmosphere was casual and the game was even lighter as Florida State easily drove to a 49-17 win. The emphatic win over Louisiana puts Florida State 8-3 this season and keeps hopes alive for their first 10-win season since 2016.
Given that Saturday’s win percentage never dropped below 94.3%, there weren’t many games of the “game-changing” variety. Instead, let’s take a look at five memorable moments from the contest against the Ragin’ Cajuns. Then we make the quick turnaround in a short week and shift our focus to Friday night’s rivalry match against the South School.
1. Treshaun Ward puts the Seminoles on the board with a 36-yard touchdown run
Florida State received the opening push to start the game and the offense led by Jordan Travis hit the ground. While Travis’ standout play has been the focus on offense this season, it’s the emergence of a three-man running back committee that continues to impress. The combined play of Trey Benson, Treshaun Ward and Lawrance Toafili over the course of the 2022 season made the Seminole rushing offense the 14th best in the nation, averaging 217 yards per game. Treshaun Ward, the former walk-on, led the attack early in the season but went down with an injury that eventually sidelined his back for several games. In his absence, Trey Benson moved to the forefront of rushing offense and posted a career-high in rushing yards in three straight games. Meanwhile, Lawrance Toafili has remained an effective threat both in the air and on the ground. So it came as no surprise when Norvell and offensive coordinator Alex Atkins decided to rely heavily on the run to open Saturday’s game.
Quarterback Jordan Travis and running back Trey Benson shared the workload by rushing for 28 yards together early in the first six games of the game. After a failed pass attempt by Travis to receiver Ontaria Wilson, Treshaun Ward took the field 3rd and 3rd in the Wildcat, ready to take a straight shot. Ward took the snap and patiently waited for his blockers to open a running lane. He waded to the left of the line before planting his put in the ground and cutting back the middle of the trenches. Ward took his time navigating the first and second levels and finally made it out into the open field where he set out for the races. The defender let the ball run untouched all the way inside the 2-yard line before being spotted and dragged down by defenders, but not before making it to the end zone.
Treshaun Ward finished the afternoon with 4 carries for 37 yards and 2 touchdowns, but it was his 36-yard touchdown streak that gave the Seminoles the lead. one they held throughout the game.
2. Malik McClain makes an acrobatic adjustment in the back of the end zone to secure a touchdown
The Seminoles found the end zone three more times on their way to a comfortable 28-0 lead, with just over six minutes remaining in the first half. The shot on goal in the first half didn’t stop there, however.
Jordan Travis opened the drive with a 32-yard pass that was rolled to Louisiana’s 36-yard line by tight end Camren McDonald, followed by two 2-yard gains on the floor by Benson and Ward. After an incompletion on the second down, Travis connected with Malik McClain down the middle for a 17-yard gain and set up the ‘Noles with 1st & 10 from the Louisiana 15. Trey Benson squeezed this with a run down to the Louisiana 9 yard line getting closer. On the 2nd and 4th, Jordan grounded Travis in the shotgun flanked by Lawrence Toafili on his right and Trey Benson on his left. Travis faked the handoff to Benson, who ran right up front with members of the offensive line. The quarterback kept the ball and rolled to the left, looking for an open receiver. Travis made his way to the left hash without finding a target, but he planted his feet and looked back to the right before firing a throw into the back endzone. The throw was thrown a little behind a wide-open Malik McClain, but the receiver made an acrobatic adjustment to secure the ball with both hands and land with two feet within limits for a touchdown. Malik McClain’s acrobatic touchdown catch increased the Seminole lead to 35 and all but ended the contest.
McClain finished with 2 receptions for 26 yards and 1 touchdown (all recorded on the same drive). The touchdown throw completed an impressive stat line for quarterback Jordan Travis, who had 9 completions on 14 tries for 112 yards and 1 touchdown and 5 carries for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. The drive was also the starting quarterback’s last appearance on the field for the afternoon.
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3. Florida State strikes while the iron is hot to open the second half
The Seminoles went into halftime with a huge lead, and the Florida State defense’s performance made it clear that Louisiana would not be able to fight its way back into that half. Defensive coordinator Adam Fuller’s group limited the Ragin’ Cajuns to 131 total yards of offense in the first half of the game and kept the visiting team to just 3 points. The second half told more of the same story as the ‘Noles held Louisiana for 7 yards on their opening run.
As Florida State’s offense returned to the field after the halftime break, Mike Norvell and his staff gave the signal for the backups to open the third quarter. Quarterback Tate Rodemaker trotted onto the field to lead the offense and wasted no time threatening the Louisiana defense. On the third play of the drive, Rodemaker faked the hand on Trey Benson, took his three-stage drop, and threw a ball to a wide-open Kentron Poitier, who ran the ball down inside the Louisiana 15-yard line. A few games later Trey Benson ended the 4 play, 72 yard drive with a 2 yard touchdown run of his own.
Trey Benson was the leading rusher for the Seminoles that day after carrying the ball 16 times for 80 yards and 1 touchdown. Rodemaker’s day would also end after the third quarter’s opening drive, in which he threw the ball 1 time for a 45-yard completion. However, the ability to play Rodemaker alongside a plethora of other reserves was a testament to the defensive performance displayed on Saturday. Florida State’s defense totaled 291 yards total offense, 3.8 yards per rush, 17 total points, and an amazing 29% third down conversion rate (4 of 14). Linebacker Brendan Gant was the lead tackler for the ‘Noles with a total of 6 tackles, 5 of which were recorded as solo tackles. DJ Lundy was also exceptional on the defensive side of the ball, producing 6 total tackles, 4 solo tackles and 1.5 sacks; The only downside to Lundy’s game was the lack of a touchdown on offense.
4. Markeston Douglas staggers a one-handed touchdown from AJ Duffy
The youth movement was on full display in the waning moments of the competition on Saturday and AJ Duffy was the center of attention for most of the time. The real freshman quarterback came into play after the Florida state defense forced a fumble deep in Louisiana territory.
Standing in 3rd and 8th place at the Louisiana 16, AJ Duffy pocketed back to pass. With a defender square in the face and diving to his feet, Duffy threw a touch shot to the right side of the field. Receiver Markeston Douglas turned to see the ball thrown slightly over his head. Adjusting his stance, Douglas hopped into the air and held out a hand. To the astonishment of those in attendance (and apparently Robert Scott Jr. as well), the receiver had not only completed the one-handed grip, but had fallen backwards and dove to land on the pylon.
The 15-yard touchdown grab served as Markeston Douglas’ first career touchdown reception and AJ Duffy’s first career touchdown throw.
5. Walk-on senior quarterback Gino English comes in to end the game for the Seminoles
Florida State was up 49-17 with just over 5 minutes left in the fourth quarter. With the game well under way for the Seminoles, head coach Mike Norvell had to play one last quarterback before the clock hit zero. Walk-on senior Gino English lined up behind center to lead the offense in the closing moments of Saturday’s game. With the student section chanting his name and the full support of the Doak Campbell Stadium crowd, English led the Seminoles for 6 games from scrimmage, throwing for 16 yards for 2 completions on 2 tries and once for a 5 win yards rushed. Gino English, the walk-on quarterback who usually comes off as the unsung hero in practice, received his moment in the spotlight on Saturday in what is sure to be a heartwarming memory for years to come. “You know that I love this child. To see him get the chance to go out there was very special,” said Mike Norvell.
The ‘Noles’ broke the bank on Saturday when all involved collectively routed the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in front of an energetic home crowd. Now Florida State has a shortened week to prepare for a rivalry matchup next week. With a plethora of storylines on both sides, there’s a lot more at stake than bragging rights. Of course, everything will come to a boiling point on Friday night in the 2022 regular season finals against the Florida Gators.
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