By: Fletcher Keel | WCTV Eyewitness Sports
September 3, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) -- The Florida State Seminoles struggled to establish their offense early on and that wouldn't change as the Noles fell to Virginia Tech, 24-3, in their season opener on Monday night in front of 75,237 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Virginia Tech opened the scoring on the first drive of the game, when they marched down the field against the Florida State defense with ease. The Hokies used short screen passes and the ground game to cover 75 yards in less than four and a half minutes.
VT capped of the game’s opening drive with a touchdown pass from Joshua Jackson to Damon Hazelton on a fade touch-pass to the corner of the endzone. Hazelton took full advantage of the mismatch against Levonte Taylor, giving the Hokies a 7-0 lead.
FSU looked to answer fast, but had difficulties on their first drive instilling their new-look Gulf Coast Offense, which ended in a turnover after Nyquan Murray fumbled the ball in the back field, which led to a Hokies’ field goal to make it a 10-0 game.
The Noles caught fire towards the end of the first quarter, thanks in large part to pick ups of 37-yards from Khalan Laborn and 21 yards from Keith Gavin, but the quarter change killed all momentum, leading to a missed field goal from Ricky Aguayo about three minutes into the second quarter.
After the field goal from the Hokies, the Noles defense settled down and played well the rest of the game, keeping the Hokies scoreless until ???
FSU scored their first points of the year with 7:26 left to play in the first half on an Aguayo field goal, but the Hokies answered a couple of defensive series later by blocking a punt off the leg of Logan Tyler in the FSU end zone and a three-yard return by Eric Kumah turned into a 17-3 lead.
An 86-yard run from Cam Akers set the Noles up at the VT five yardline, but two plays later the Noles coughed it up when they got cute with a three running back look out of the Wildcat, giving the ball back to the Hokies with less than 10 minutes to play.
The Hokies added a touchdown late in the fourth quarter to put the game out of reach for FSU at 24-3.
"I hadn't seen this the entire training camp," Taggart said in the post-game press conference. "We had a really good training camp, a really good practice and I was expecting a really good ball game.
"We did exactly what we preached not to do; silly penalties, turnovers and we got a punt blocked," Taggart continued in his opening remarks.
The key struggle for FSU was winning battles up front, especially offensively, causing for a night with 94 total rushing yards, 85 of which came on one run.
"It was one guy here and there not making his block," Taggart said. "You've got to win one-on-one battles, and we didn't do that."
FSU finished the night with 327 yards of total offense, but it didn't feel like it. Francois threw for 233 yards on 22-of-35 passing with three interceptions.
Akers led all rushers with 82 yards on 14 carries, helped in large part by his big 85-yard rush in the fourth. Jacques Patrick finished with 40 yards on seven carries.
Virginia Tech, who was held to under 190 yards at halftime, finished with 319 yards, 207 of which came via the air.
Jackson tossed two touchdowns on 16-of-26 passing.