Florida State throttles Southern Miss en route to a 66-13 win

Florida State improved to 2-0 on the season with a 66-13 win over Southern Miss.
Florida State improved to 2-0 on the season with a 66-13 win over Southern Miss.(Alison Posey/WCTV)
Published: Sep. 10, 2023 at 2:09 AM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - Florida State’s offense scored on nine of 12 drives, the defense stymied Southern Miss all night and Seminole starters on both sides of the ball were pulled early in the third quarter in a 66-13 win over the Golden Eagles in Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday night. FSU’s Trey Benson scored a career-high three touchdowns and led the No. 4 Seminoles with 79 rushing yards on just nine carries.

Quarterback Jordan Travis completed 15-of-29 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 20 yards on six carries in the win that pushed the Seminoles to 2-0 on the season and extended their win streak to eight games dating back to the six games won over the second half of last season.Six different Seminoles scored touchdowns and five running backs had 30 yards or more in a game in which FSU played four different quarterbacks.

FSU outgained Southern Miss 554 yards to 258 with most of USM’s coming late in the game. Golden Eagles quarterback Billy Wiles was pressured all night and finished 11-of-34 through the air for 154 yards and no touchdowns.  Rodriques Clark led the visitors with 86 rushing yards on 15 carries.

FSU took the opening drive 76 yards on eight plays that were equally split between rushing and passing.  The Seminoles went up 7-0 when Travis connected with Darion Williamson on a 10-yard touchdown pass. The Seminoles went up 14-0 with 2:44 remaining in the first quarter on a drive that included three fourth-down conversions.  The first coming at the Southern Miss 48 when Travis rolled left and retreated 20 yards before hitting Lawrance Toafili to convert.  Travis’ legs kept possession on the second conversion when he rolled left, reversed field, and easily gained the 10 yards for a first. Trey Benson finished the possession when he took a handoff on 4th-and-1 and raced 18 yards for the touchdown making it 14-0.The Seminole special teams got into the act on the ensuing kickoff with a successful and surprising onside kick recovered at their own 49 with 2:28 left in the initial stanza.  But FSU could not convert on its fourth 4th-down attempt of the night when Travis’ pass to Keon Coleman was broken up in the end zone. Florida State’s defense held Southern Miss to just 19 yards and only 10 plays in the opening quarter while FSU’s offense gained 149 yards on 27 plays.

Southern Miss cut into the lead with 11:28 left in the first half with a nine-play drive that covered 57 yards and culminated with a 30-yard field goal by Andrew Stein to make it 14-3.On the ensuing possession, FSU raced through the Southern Miss defense with Lawrance Toafili’s electrifying 34-yard run setting up a 3-yard touchdown plunge by Benson to stretch the lead to 21-3.The Noles went up 27-3 on a 6-yard touchdown pass over the middle from Travis to Coleman.  Already a fan favorite in just his second game at FSU, Coleman set up the score with a tight rope down the sideline on a 34-yard catch that included a highlight-reel hurdle of a Golden Eagle defender.

Ryan Fitzgerald closed out the first half scoring with a 35-yard field goal as time expired putting FSU up 31-3.While Southern Miss did not do themselves any favors with 11 penalties in the first half, the Seminoles outgained USM 294 yards to 70.  Travis completed 15 of 29 passes for 175 yards and two touchdowns.  Toafili led all rushers with 41 yards on eight carries and Benson had 34 on seven rushes.USM quarterback Billy Wiles completed just 4-of-13 passes for 61 yards.After forcing yet another three-and-out for the USM offense on its first possession of the second half, it took Florida State just two plays to score on a drive that started on the USM 45 following a short punt.  Benson rushed for a short gain on first down before busting loose for a 42-yard touchdown putting the Noles up 38-3 just 1:44 into the third quarter.Southern Miss faced third and long on their next possession and Jarrion Jones picked off Wiles’ pass and raced into the end zone for a 30-yard touchdown.  It was the first interception return for a touchdown for a Seminole defender since the 2021 season. Florida State pulled most of their starters for the next series and on his first play quarterback

Tate Rodemaker hit tight end Markeston Douglas on a short out route that he turned into a 42-yard touchdown that made it 52-3.Southern Miss made it 52-10 with 4:41 left in the third quarter mounting an 89-yard drive in 13 plays that culminated in a 12-yard touchdown run by Rodriques Clark.With 14:09 left in the game, Rodemaker connected with Vandrevius Jacobs and he took his first career reception in for a 13-yard touchdown capping an 83-yard drive and extending the lead to 52-10.The Noles reached 65 points with 11:00 left in the game when reserve running back Caziah Holmes made a move in the hole and outran the defense on the way to a 40-yard score.

A 40-yard Southern Miss field goal with 5:32 left made the final margin 66-13.

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