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Five Plays That Changed the Game as Florida State Continues its Win Streak Against Louisiana-Lafayette

The Seminoles cruised on Saturday afternoon to another easy win.

Let’s be totally transparent here. If you’re reading this, odds are high that you’ve tuned into NoleGameday on a few occasions for this exact breakdown and they all follow the same structure: long introductory write-up detailing stakes and storylines followed by a brief explanation of the result of the game, and then a detailed account of said five plays. It’s a tried and true format that really paints a full picture of Florida State’s previous matchup. 

Here’s the problem: this week’s matchup didn’t have an overtly complex picture to paint. There were no storylines; there were no major stakes; there was no need to go out and prove anything. Put simply, Florida State was riding a hot streak heading into Saturday’s contest and they looked to continue their stretch of dominant performances over the visiting Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns.

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In their return to Doak Campbell Stadium after two weeks on the road, the Seminoles completely outmatched Louisiana. Florida State shot out to an early lead and effectively put this game on ice by halftime. Mike Norvell and company would unload the bench early on, electing to give young team members, backups, and walk-ons some well earned playing time. The atmosphere was light and the play was even lighter as Florida State cruised with ease to a 49-17 victory. The emphatic win against Louisiana moves Florida State to 8-3 on the season and keeps the hopes of its first 10-win season since 2016 alive.

Given the fact that the win probability never dipped below 94.3% on Saturday, there were not a lot of plays of the “game-changing” variety. Instead, let’s take a look at five memorable moments from the contest against the Ragin’ Cajuns. Then, we’ll make the quick turnaround in a short week and shift our focus to Friday night’s rivalry matchup against the school down south.

1. Treshaun Ward puts the Seminoles on the board with a 36-yard touchdown run

Florida State received the opening kickoff to start the game, and the Jordan Travis led offense hit the ground running. While the stellar play of Travis has been the focal point of the offense this season, it’s the emergence of a three-headed 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 has established the Seminole rushing attack as 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 the back for multiple games. In his absence, Trey Benson surged to the forefront of the rushing attack, setting a career-high in rushing yards in three consecutive games. All the while, 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 up Saturday’s game.

Quarterback Jordan Travis and running back Trey Benson shared the workload early rushing for a combined 28 yards on the first six plays of the game. After a Travis pass attempt to receiver Ontaria Wilson fell incomplete, Treshaun Ward took the field on 3rd & 3 lined up in the Wildcat prepared to take a direct snap. Ward took the snap and patiently waited for his blockers to open up a running lane. He waded towards the left side of the line before planting his put in the ground and cutting back up the middle of the trenches. Ward took his time navigating the first and second levels, eventually making it into the open field where he was off to the races. The back ran the ball all the way inside the 2 yard line untouched before being tracked down by defenders and dragged down, but not before he made it into the end zone.

Treshaun Ward finished with 4 carries for 37 yards and 2 touchdowns on the afternoon, but it was his 36 yard touchdown run that gave the Seminoles the lead; one they held for the entirety of 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 commanding 28-0 lead with just over six minutes remaining in the opening half. The first half scoring onslaught did not stop there, however.

Jordan Travis opened the drive with a 32 yard pass reeled in by tight end Camren McDonald down to the Louisiana 36 yard line followed by a pair of 2 yard gains on the ground by Benson and Ward. After an incompletion on second down, Travis connected with Malik McClain over the middle for a gain of 17 yards setting the ‘Noles up with 1st & 10 from the Louisiana 15. Trey Benson pushed that ever closer with a run down to the Louisiana 9 yard line. On 2nd & 4, Jordan Travis set up in the shotgun flanked by Lawrence Toafili to his right and Trey Benson to his left. Travis faked the handoff to Benson, who ran right with members of the offensive line leading the way. The quarterback kept the ball and rolled out left looking downfield for an open receiver. Travis made his way over to the left hash without finding a target, but he set his feet and looked back towards the right before rifling a throw to the back of the end zone. 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 come down with two feet in bounds for a touchdown. Malik McClain’s acrobatic touchdown catch pushed the Seminole lead to 35 and all but brought an end to 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 notched 9 completions on 14 attempts for 112 yards and 1 touchdown as well as 5 carries for 38 yards and 2 touchdowns on the ground. The drive was also the starting quarterback’s last appearance on field for the afternoon.

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3. Florida State strikes while the iron is hot to open up the second half

The Seminoles carried a large lead into the half, and the performance of the Florida State defense made it clear that Louisiana was not going to be able to claw its way back into this one. Defensive Coordinator Adam Fuller’s group limited the Ragin’ Cajuns to 131 total yards of offense in the first half of play and held the visiting team to just 3 points. The second half told more of the same story with the ‘Noles holding Louisiana to 7 yards on their opening drive.

When the Florida State offense returned to the field of play following the halftime break, Mike Norvell and his staff gave the nod to the backups to open the third quarter. Quarterback Tate Rodemaker trotted onto the field to helm the offense, and he wasted no time threatening the Louisiana defense. On the third play of the drive, Rodemaker faked the hand off to Trey Benson, took his three step drop, and lofted a ball to a wide open Kentron Poitier, who ran the ball down inside the Louisiana 15 yard line. A few plays later, Trey Benson completed the 4 play, 72 yard drive with a 2 yard touchdown run of his own.

Trey Benson was the leading rusher for the Seminoles on the day, having carried the ball 16 times for 80 yards and the 1 touchdown. Rodemaker’s day would also come to an end following the opening drive of the third quarter wherein he threw the ball 1 time for a completion of 45 yards. However, the ability to play Rodemaker alongside a plethora of other reserves was a testament to the defensive performance on display on Saturday. Florida State’s defense yielded 291 yards of total offense, 3.8 yards per rush, 17 total points, and a staggering 29% third down conversion rate (4 of 14). Linebacker Brendan Gant was the leading tackler for the ‘Noles with 6 total tackles, 5 of which were recorded as solo tackles. D.J. 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 play being the lack of a touchdown on offense.

4. Markeston Douglas reels in a one-handed touchdown from AJ Duffy

The youth movement was on full display in the waning moments of Saturday’s contest, and AJ Duffy was at the center of attention for a large majority of it. The true freshman quarterback entered the game after the Florida State defense forced a fumble deep in Louisiana territory.

Facing 3rd & 8 at the Louisiana 16 yard line, AJ Duffy dropped back in the pocket intending to pass. With a defender right in his face and diving at his feet, Duffy delivered a touch throw to the right side of the field. Receiver Markeston Douglas turned to find the ball thrown slightly over his head. Douglas adjusted his footing, hopped into the air, and stuck out one hand. To the amazement of those in attendance (and apparently Robert Scott Jr. as well), the receiver had not only completed the one-handed grab but had fallen backwards and dove towards the pylon for a touchdown.

The 15 yard, acrobatic touchdown grab served as Markeston Douglas’s first career touchdown reception and AJ Duffy’s first career touchdown throw.

5. Walk-on senior quarterback Gino English comes in to close the game for the Seminoles

Florida State was up 49-17 with just over 5 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. With the game well in hand for the Seminoles, head coach Mike Norvell had one last quarterback to play before the clock hit zero. Walk-on senior Gino English lined up behind center to lead the offense in the final 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 plays from scrimmage wherein he threw for 2 completions on 2 attempts for 16 yards and rushed once for a gain of 5 yards. Gino English, the walk-on quarterback typically featured as an unsung hero in practice, received his moment in the spotlight on Saturday in what’s sure to be a heartwarming memory for years to come. “You know I love that kid. Seeing him get the chance to go out there was pretty special,” said Mike Norvell.

The ‘Noles emptied the bench on Saturday as all those involved combined to rout the Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns in front of an energetic home crowd. Now, Florida State will have a shortened week to prepare for a rivalry matchup in the week ahead. There’s a lot more than bragging rights on the line with a plethora of storylines on both sidelines. Of course, it will all come to a boiling point Friday night in the 2022 regular season finale against the Florida Gators. 

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