Game ball: The game ball goes, as it has so many times, to Dalvin Cook. Up against one of the nation’s best defenses, Cook ran for 145 yards and caught 62 more as the Seminoles outlasted Michigan, 33-32, at the Capital One Orange Bowl. A Miami native who grew up down the road from Hard Rock Stadium, Cook earned MVP honors in front of a hometown crowd. It was his ninth 100-yard game of the season. In the process, Cook broke his own single-season school rushing record. It now stands at 1,765 yards, 146 yards better than the mark he set last season.
Play of the game: FSU had a year’s worth of highlight-reel plays on Friday night. Cook’s 45-yard deep catch after lining up as a wide receiver rates as such. So does his remarkable 71-yard run on third-and-22 that led to a touchdown. Or how about either of Nyqwan Murray’s touchdowns, one a 92-yarder that was the longest in Orange Bowl history, the other a 12-yard leaping grab over consensus All-American Jourdan Lewis. Each makes a strong case, but it’s hard to get away from Keith Gavin’s 66-yard kickoff return that set up FSU’s game-winning TD. Gavin, a freshman receiver from Crawfordville, Fla., hadn’t registered so much as a single touch this season when the kick came his way. And he committed the cardinal sin of kick returns: he hesitated. No matter – the 6-3, 225-pounder barreled through the heart of Michigan’s coverage unit and, were it not for a hamstring injury suffered on the play, might have scored. It was the perfect – and necessary – response after Michigan took its first lead just moments earlier.
Turning point: Maybe an unlikely choice, but given the wild nature of the game’s final few minutes, the kickoff following FSU’s go-ahead touchdown turned out to be an awfully big deal. Freshman Logan Tyler had an uneven night, which in part led to Michigan enjoying an average starting field position at its own 43-yard line. (FSU, by contrast, averaged its own 26.) But with the game on the line and the FSU defense needing any boost it could get, Tyler boomed a touchback that ensured the Wolverines would need to string together a few first downs if they were to have a chance at a game-winning field goal. They couldn’t do it and, four plays later, FSU took over with a win in hand.
It was over when: Carlos Becker grabbed his first career interception on Michigan’s final offensive play. Even with the odds in FSU’s favor near the end of the game, the Wolverines still trailed by just one point and had a full complement of timeouts at their disposal. But UM offense couldn’t get much going on its last drive, and Florida State’s defense put an exclamation point on a brilliant effort when Becker, a freshman from Kissimmee, dove for a deflected pass and hauled it in for Michigan’s only turnover of the game.
Already earning first-team All-ACC and first-team NFCA Southeast All-Region honors this season, Powers batted .360 with 19 doubles, 10 home runs, 51 RBI and 54 runs scored. A 2016 second-team NFCA All-American, Powers now holds the all-time doubles record at Florida State with 51, and her 19 doubles in 2017 is tied for the most in a single season. Working her way into becoming one of the best offensive players in FSU history, Powers finished her career in the top five of the FSU career marks for slugging percentage (.612, third), RBI (171, third), walks (133, T-third) and home runs (35, fourth). A career .350 hitter, Powers had a breakout season at the plate in 2016 and posted a .396 batting average with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 63 RBI, earning ACC Player of the Year honors.
“We are extremely excited about Alex Powers receiving this great honor,” said Head Coach Lonni Alameda. “She has worked so hard for this program and has been one of our leaders among an amazing senior class that all build on each other. AP has grown so much in every aspect of her life, and we are very proud of her and know that she represents Seminole Softball both on and off the field daily. It is neat to see others recognize her for that as well.”
Beyond the field, Powers has remained committed to excellence in the classroom, to prioritizing community outreach and to maintaining a high level of personal character. A 2015 NFCA Scholar-Athlete and member of the All-ACC Academic Team, Powers graduated with a degree in sports management in 2016 and is currently pursuing her master’s degree. In both 2016 and 2017, she earned the Golden Nole Award as FSU softball’s best representative of community service and, along with the softball team as a whole, earned the FSU Athletic Director’s Cup for Service in 2014 and 2015. As an active member of the FSU Softball TRIBE, Powers has volunteered at the Tallahassee Memorial Healthcare Cancer Center, read to elementary students and helped clean up trash through FSU softball’s partnership with the City of Tallahassee’s Adopt-A-Street program.
“Alex Powers is the all-around excellent student-athlete we are thrilled to be able to recognize through the Senior CLASS Award,” said Erik Miner, the award’s executive director. “She has worked hard and made a difference in her community while excelling on and off the field. Our sincere congratulations to Alex, her team and to Florida State University.”
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