TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State’s offense, defense and special teams came together in dominant fashion against Delaware State on Saturday afternoon.
They came together in the end zone, too.
The Seminoles used all three phases to score their first three touchdowns on the way to a 77-6 win over the Hornets in front of a Homecoming crowd of 70,599 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
“We played a complete game,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We dominated the game, but we should have dominated the game. And we went out and played and did it, and there’s something to that.”
Jacques Patrick ran for a touchdown, Tarvarus McFadden returned a block kick for a score and Derwin James grabbed the first “pick-six” of his career as the Seminoles (4-6) raced out to a school record-tying 56 points in the first half (1992, Tulane). And FSU fell just three points short of the single-game scoring mark of 80 set against Idaho in 2013.
Perhaps it’s appropriate then that Florida State celebrated Senior Day on Saturday, too: Four players who were freshmen in 2013 were recognized in an on-field ceremony prior to kickoff.
All four – Nate Andrews, Matthew Thomas, Ro’Derrick Hoskins and Ryan Green – had a hand in the victory. Thomas and Hoskins as usual starters in FSU’s base defense, Andrews with his first extended action since a midseason injury, and Green with a pair of second-half touchdown runs.
“You know, it’s been a while since I’ve been in the end zone,” said Green, who capped the scoring with a 50-yard scamper in the fourth quarter.
“It was just a great feeling to have, especially on Senior Day with my parents here to watch me.”
And just as that Idaho game allowed those freshmen to get some extended action, so too did Saturday’s game for the next wave of FSU youth.
With the Seminoles holding a 56-6 lead at halftime, coach Jimbo Fisher emptied his bench in favor of newcomers and reserves.
So while FSU got plenty of contributions from its usual freshmen – James Blackman threw for 179 yards and three touchdowns, and Cam Akers ran for 44 yards and a TD on nine carries – it also got long look at what’s to come.
Freshmen defenders Hamsah Nasirildeen, Marvin Wilson, Joshua Kaindoh, Stanford Samuels III and Cyrus Fagan all played for most of the second half, and Kaindoh finished with team highs in tackles (six) and sacks (four).
On offense, redshirt junior quarterback J.J. Cosentino took over for Blackman late in the second half, engineered two scoring drives and threw a 12-yard touchdown pass to senior walk-on Justin Motlow.
“We played for four quarters,” Fisher said. “Even when the backups and everybody got in the game, they played hard, executed the offense and did the right things, took the right steps.”
FSU’s starters otherwise made quick work of Delaware State, an opponent from the Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) that entered the game with a 2-8 record.
The Seminoles scored touchdowns on eight of their first nine drives, with Akers, Blackman and Patrick (28 yards, two TDs) doing the early heavy lifting, and eight different receivers catching at least one pass.
That includes touchdowns for Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate, as well as for fullback Gabe Nabers and Motlow.
The Seminoles were especially pleased for Motlow, a senior walk-on and the first member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to play football at FSU.
Motlow had long been regarded as one of the Seminoles’ most respected walk-ons, and, after the game, teammates said that they felt it was only a matter of time before he broke through in a game.
“Everyone knows what Motlow is capable of,” McFadden said. “It just means a lot to the team. He’s a scout-team guy, a guy who is out there working hard just like us. And for him to be able to come out here and make a play, that was something special.”
FSU’s defense, meanwhile, held Delaware State to 171 yards of total offense, 125 of which came on their first two possessions.
After those two drives – which ended in a blocked field goal and a one-yard touchdown – the Hornets combined to gain just 46 yards across their next 11 drives.
FSU’s defensive front had a lot to do with that. Paced by Kaindoh’s second-half surge, the Seminoles finished with 11 tackles for loss and six sacks. And Kaindoh nearly leapt to the top of FSU’s sack leaderboard in one afternoon. Only junior Josh Sweat (4.5 sacks) has more.
“It was fun watching him,” senior defensive tackle Derrick Nnadi said. “In my mind, for someone of his caliber, I feel like he’ll be doing that constantly.”
By improving to 4-6, the Seminoles took the first step toward the six wins needed for bowl eligibility. FSU visits Florida next week (noon, ESPN) then returns home to host ULM on Dec. 2.
And if their effort in Gainesville looks anything like their effort today, the Seminoles like their chances of taking yet another step.
FSU has won four straight and six of its last seven against the Gators.
“With this game right here, it shows that we can do that,” Nnadi said. “We’ve just got to do it.”