FSU dismantles Duke, 56-35

The Seminoles got off to a fast start, teetered on the brink of a collapse, and then recovered...
The Seminoles got off to a fast start, teetered on the brink of a collapse, and then recovered to pour in on the Blue Devils in the 56-35 victory.(247Noles)
Published: Dec. 12, 2020 at 8:33 PM EST
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (247Noles) - Florida State, short-handed while playing its first game in nearly a month, dismantled Duke on Saturday evening in Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles got off to a fast start, teetered on the brink of a collapse, and then recovered to pour in on the Blue Devils in the 56-35 victory.

It was a strange game for FSU after the long hiatus. The Seminoles (3-6, 2-6 ACC) looked rejuvenated and explosive to start the game, jumping out to a 28-0 lead in the first quarter. Jordan Travis, well-rested, was sharp as a runner and thrower as he guided the Seminoles to touchdowns on all four of its first four drives. The redshirt sophomore mixed up short passes and deep throws to keep Duke’s defense off-balance early.

Then the all-too-familiar feeling of tightening up and losing control of a game reared its ugly head into the picture. FSU had turnovers on consecutive drives and its explosive offense came to an abrupt halt as Duke capitalized with some big plays of its own. This included a 64-yard rush by RB Mataeo Durant.

Before FSU knew what hit it, Duke (2-9, 1-9 ACC) was back in the game and down 28-21 with 5:41 left in the second quarter.

But the Seminoles were resilient, even as key players like starting wide receiver Ontaria Wilson and defensive tackle Fabien Lovett exited the game to further deplete a roster that featured just 51 active scholarship players entering the contest.

Momentum turned in FSU’s favor when safety Brendan Gant -- who had a remarkable interception earlier in the game as he snagged a ball away from a Duke receiver as it neared the ground, knocked it upwards and then caught it while falling down -- had a big collision with QB Chase Brice on 3rd and 1. Brice was running to the first-down marker as Gant flew downhill with ferocity. The sophomore jarred the ball loose on contact.

FSU recovered at Duke’s 29. Travis scored a couple plays later, darting into the second level and then making a defender miss to get FSU’s lead to 35-21.

Travis, who finished with 90 rushing yards, surpassed Charlie Ward’s school record for rushing yards in a season (504) during the contest. He added 192 yards through the air, completing 13 of 18 passes for two touchdowns and an interception.

The Seminoles scored a touchdown on their next drive and then Travis Jay had an acrobatic one-handed pick -- FSU’s third interception of the game, with Gant and Hamsah Nasirildeen also getting in the mix -- to begin putting the contest out of reach.

Travis hit freshman Ja’Khi Douglas for his second receiving touchdown of the evening on a 68-yard play-action pass in which Duke’s secondary bit on the fake toss to give FSU the 49-21 edge in the fourth quarter. Lawrance Toafili, who had 117 rushing yards on just 7 carries, joined in the action with a 73-yard score later in the game’s final period.

FSU finished with 522 yards of total offense while keeping Duke to 393.

The Seminoles are scheduled to travel to Wake Forest next Saturday, although that game will be contingent on FSU having enough players healthy and available for the contest.

If this was the season finale for FSU, the bizarre and often frustrating campaign ends on a high note for the Seminoles in Year 1 under Mike Norvell.

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