By: Brandon Mellor (@BrandonMellor), Seminoles.com Managing Editor
FSU’s starting quarterback needed only one quarter to throw for three touchdowns. Manuel entered the game as the most accurate passer in program history and an 11-of-13 throwing mark certainly won’t hurt his average.
Jacob Coker and Kelvin Benjamin both did something they had never done before Saturday night. Both players scored the first touchdowns (throwing for Coker and catching for Benjamin) of their respective careers. Benjamin even added a second score.
James Wilder, Jr. now has five rushing touchdowns for his FSU career after adding two more against the Tigers.
After hauling in a 61-yard touchdown to start the game, Rodney Smith now has a catch in 27 consecutive games.
Senior kicker Dustin Hopkkins had made a school-record 145 consecutive extra points before he missed one in the second half.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — No. 6 Florida State was expected to blow out visiting Savannah State Saturday night by potentially epic proportions.
In the end, the Seminoles (2-0) weren’t given enough time to break any school or national scoring records against the overmatched FCS program — the game was called midway through the third quarter because of severe weather — but that didn’t stop FSU from padding the box score.
In a 55-0 win, the Seminoles scored eight touchdowns on nine drives, racked up 413 yards of total offense, averaged 9.4 yards per play, registered 20 first downs and held the Tigers (0-2) to just 28 yards of total offense.
And they did all of this despite the game being ruled over with 8:59 still to play in the third quarter. Prior to the final ruling, both teams had waited through a 56-minute weather delay before halftime and had agreed to a running clock for the remainder of the contest.
“It’s easy for me to say that I want to keep playing, but I understand the situation — we have bad weather coming and they have a bus ride and doing the things that they’ve got to do,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “As a competitor you want to keep playing — I wanted to see some of our young guys, but I totally understand. That’s the nature of the situation that we were in.”
A surprising situation for a game that wound up with the type of score everyone expected.
Quarterback EJ Manuel played only the opening quarter for the Seminoles, connecting on 11 of his 13 pass attempts for three touchdowns and 161 yards. His backup Clint Trickett passed for 66 yards and third-stringer Jacob Coker’s 19 yards passing came by way of a touchdown toss of that length to redshirt freshman Kelvin Benjamin.
The scoring grab was Benjamin’s second of the night. The 6-foot-6, 240-pound redshirt freshman posted the first touchdown of his career midway through the first quarter on a nine-yard jump ball from Manuel.
“I was very excited to score my first two touchdowns by the s tarting quarterback and the quarterback that came in with my class,” Benjamin said. “So I was very emotional and I did a lot of good things in this game. I touched the ball a lot and I definitely want to be a playmaker for the team.”
Senior Rodney Smith started Saturday’s slew of scoring with his career-long 61-yard touchdown catch on the second play of the game. Greg Dent also added an eight-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter for an FSU team that finished the night with 246 yards passing on an efficient 17-of-21 collective throwing mark.
The Seminoles also ran for 167 yards with sophomore Devonta Freeman’s 9.9 yards-per-carry average leading the way. Freeman finished the shortened game with 69 yards on the ground and a score while James Wilder, Jr. added two rushing touchdowns and Chris Thompson posted another.
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Individual defensive numbers weren’t eye-popping — sophomore safety Karlos Williams was the squad’s leader with just three stops — but the team as a whole allowed Savannah State to complete just two of 15 pass attempts and produce just 1.1 yards per rush. The Tigers averaged just 0.8 yards per play.
Junior defensive end Bjoern Werner didn’t have to play much to add to his already-stellar season numbers, notching his fifth sack and 6 1/2 tackles for loss on the year.
Smith’s long touchdown catch on the second play of the game got things going early for the FSU offense. It was quickly followed by six more points from another senior as Thompson dashed his way to pay dirt from six yards out.
Dent’s touchdown catch and Benjamin’s score then followed and Freeman’s five-yard touchdown run made it a 35-0 game in the blink of an eye.
Wilder, Jr.’s four-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter and his one-yard plunge a few minutes later pushed that advantage to 48-0 with 8:02 left in the second quarter.
Benjamin’s 19-yard touchdown reception from Coker with 11:24 left in the third quarter then proved to be the final score of the game.
“We try to pride ourselves on focusing on ourselves,” Manuel said. “When I say that, I mean going out there and doing what we’ve been coached and the things we’ve been doing all week. We had a good week of preparation. We wanted to go out there and present that to our fans. And that’s what we did tonight.”
Florida State won’t have it quite so easy next weekend. The ‘Noles kick off Atlantic Coast Conference at noon by hosting a Wake Forest team that has started its season 2-0, including a come-from-behind 28-27 win over North Carolina Saturday.
“It was good as can be with what we are doing and the schedule we have,” Fisher said. “Under the circumstances, we had Murray State and West Virginia. That was out of our control – had nothing to do with us. I think we’ll prepare well and play well next week.”