TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com) – Redshirt sophomore quarterback Jordan Travis directed five consecutive touchdown drives in the second and third quarters to lead Florida State to a come-from-behind 41-24 victory over Jacksonville State at Doak Campbell Stadium. The win was Florida State’s first of the 2020 season and first under first-year head coach Mike Norvell. The Seminoles outscored the Gamecocks by 24 points in the second half after trailing by a 21-14 margin at halftime.
Travis completed 12-of-17 passes (both career highs) for a career-high 210 yards and one touchdown. He also totaled a career-high 11 rushing attempts for 48 yards and one touchdown. Freshman running back Lawrance Toafili totaled 12 rushes for 99 yards and one touchdown while Ontaria Wilson caught a career-high seven passes for 86 yards.
“It was a special feeling,” said Travis. “I give thanks to the man upstairs and all of my teammates; I couldn’t have done it without them.”
Travis entered the game in the second quarter in relief of true freshman Tate Rodemaker. Rodemaker earned the first start of his career and completed 8-of-12 passes for 58 yards and one interception before giving way to Travis.
“It was a great feeling,” continued Travis. “I’ve just got to keep working; keep getting better every single day. That’s my main goal – to get better throwing the ball. That’s my weakness right now. I’ve got to keep getting better and keep working.”
Travis was very confident entering the game in the second quarter.
“Just go play football; go have fun and play football,” said Travis about the advice he received from Coach Norvell and Offensive Coordinator Kenny Dillingham. “That’s all you have to do is go out and have fun. If you are not having fun, if you are uptight, the game’s not fun. I just went out there and tried to have a good time and do whatever I could do to help my team win.”
Five different Seminoles scored at least one touchdown in the victory – Keyshawn Helton (one receiving touchdown), Travis (one rushing), La Damian Webb (two rushing), Toafili (one rushing) and Jashaun Corbin (one rushing).
“It was great to be back on the sideline with them,” said Norvell. “The first quarter didn’t necessarily start off like we envisioned. We told the team throughout the course of the week: ‘There’s only so many moments that come along during the course of your career that you really look back to, where you see a moment where you decided to make a change. You decide to let that be a defining moment.’ Tonight, down 21-7, we had that opportunity. It didn’t go like we necessarily wanted to in the beginning but it did when we needed it to. To see our team respond, to see them have impact plays, I’m really proud of our guys.
“It was great to be in the locker room with them after the game. When you see the joy and the excitement of winning the game … it’s been a challenge for these guys. They’ve been through a lot.”
The Seminoles outgained the Gamecocks by a 531-307 margin in total yards; gained 200 yards more rushing (263-63) and passed for more yards than the visitors (268-244).
The Seminoles’ defense was also able to get itself off of the field more often as it limited Jacksonville State to 3-of-10 third down conversions (30 percent). In addition, the Seminoles punted only three times on Saturday – after punting seven times in their first two games.
Jacksonville State struck first as Kolbi Fuqua intercepted Rodemaker’s second pass of the day and returned it for a 13-yard touchdown.
Following a Florida State punt, the Gamecocks added to their lead on a 36-yard touchdown run by Josh Samuel for a 14-0 Jacksonville State lead. The touchdown run was the final play on a six-play, 69-yard touchdown drive.
Florida State, on the strength of a 41-yard touchdown pass from Travis to Helton at the 7:15 mark of the second quarter, cut the deficit in half. Travis found Helton sprinting down the middle of the field for his first career touchdown pass as a Seminole. Helton, who caught his second touchdown pass of the season, utilized his athletic ability to get behind two Jacksonville State defenders and muscle his way into the end zone.
Jacksonville State immediately answered with a 60-yard scoring drive of its own to increase its lead back to 14, at 21-7. The Gamecocks’ six-play, 60-yard scoring drive was capped by a two-yard touchdown run by Zerrick Cooper.
The Seminoles scored on their second consecutive drive as Travis crossed the goal line on a 1-yard rush to cut the deficit to 21-14. Travis engineered a 13-play touchdown drive which was aided by two pass interference calls against the Gamecock defense. The two pass interference penalties cost Jacksonville State 28 yards during the Seminoles’ 75-yard drive.
Florida State took the second half kickoff and scored its third touchdown of the game, and tied the game at 21-21.
Running back La’Damian Webb scored on a 15-yard run, the first touchdown of his career, as Florida State scored on its third consecutive drive. Travis was 2-for-2 passing on the drive for 53 yards – including a 48-yard strike to Tamorrion Terry for his longest catch of the season.
Terry caught six passes for 77 yards in his best performance of his redshirt junior season. His 48-yard grab to begin the third quarter allowed him to become the 15th Seminole in school history with 2,000 or more career receiving yards. Terry now ranks 14th in school history with 2,061 career receiving yards.
The see-saw battle continued as Jacksonville State answered immediately with a nine-play, 71-yard drive that resulted in a 21-yard field goal by Karajic – his second of the game – to give the Gamecocks a 24-21 advantage with 9:57 left to play in the third quarter.
Florida State took its first lead of the game on 13-yard scoring run by Toafili to give the Seminoles a 28-24 lead at the 5:41 mark of the third quarter. The run-dominated drive, which consumed 78 yards on 12 plays, saw 11 rushing attempts for 69 yards including Toafili’s first career touchdown to put the Seminoles on top. Toafili rushed twice for 37 yards on the scoring drive.
Florida State increased its lead to 34-24 on a six-yard scoring run by Webb – his second of the quarter. Webb entered the game with 39 yards on 13 carriers in one game as a Seminole. He totaled 43 yards on seven carries in Florida State’s first win of the season to go along with his first two touchdowns.
Running back Jashaun Corbin closed out the Seminoles’ highest scoring game since a 49-12 win over Alabama State on Nov. 16, 2019 with a bruising two-yard scoring run with 2:18 left to play. Corbin’s touchdown allowed him to become the fifth different Seminole with a touchdown against the Gamecocks.
Fittingly, the Seminoles’ defense turned Jacksonville State over on downs for the final margin of victory.
Following the win, Helton spoke about his QB.
“He’s electric,” Helton said of Travis. “He’s been doing that week-in and week-out for us. He approaches the work the same each and every day. I’m proud of him; he deserved everything he got today.”
Florida State travels to play its second ranked opponent of the season as it visits No. 5 Notre Dame on Saturday at 7:30 p.m.