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Kicker Hopkins easily clears NCAA scoring record

By Coley Harvey

Orlando Sentinel

COLLEGE PARK, Md. - When it first became apparent several weeks ago that he had a strong chance to break an NCAA record or two this season, Florida State K Dustin Hopkins turned to members of the equipment staff with a casual request.

If I reach a record, he told them, please track down that ball.

Late Saturday afternoon, while sitting in front of reporters inside a white heated tent just outside Byrd Stadium, he still had not seen the ball he blasted through the east end zone goal posts to set an NCAA scoring record for kickers.

"They said they got it," Hopkins said. "I trust them."

Needing two points to tie former Boise State K Kyle Brotzman's Division I career scoring record of 439, Hopkins glided into history with 11.

"Breaking the record, it doesn't surprise you one bit," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "That guy just keeps going on. Steady Eddie, boy. He's just a phenomenal player, and I'm blessed to have been able to coach him."

Hopkins' record-setting kick came nine seconds into the second quarter of No.10 FSU's 41-14 win over Maryland. With a tame wind, he buried a 26-yard field goal with room to spare.

It was one of two field goals he had in the game. He added five extra points.

"I remember my freshman year and I had trouble with extra points," Hopkins said, recalling the four he missed. "People said: 'Switch him out, get him out of there.' I see adversity that I've been through and to see on the other side my success is truly a blessing."

GREENE, SHAW RETURN PUNTS: After he fumbled two punts in his only two games as FSU's returner, Tyler Hunter was replaced on the special teams unit in practices last week. He started against Duke and Virginia Tech after the previous returner, Rashad Greene, also had a problem tracking and catching the football.

So in an effort to solve the punt return woes once and for all, Fisher and his staff went to a last resort: a two-man return setup. Greene was coming back to field punts, but with help this time. Kenny Shaw was joining him.

"I said I want the ball caught," Fisher said. "If we get a (fair catch), we get it. That way, there was less travel for a guy to have to run across (the field) on a punt. And people are directional punting you so much now and punting away. And you can get a blocker in front of you a lot quicker.

"So we went back to base fundamentals, catch the football, get a first down, get the ball."

Shaw and Greene returned four of the seven balls punted to them. They amassed 16 yards.

ETC.: When the season began, Fisher vowed to make TE Nick O'Leary more of a factor. A year ago, the Palm Beach native had just 12 receptions. He now has 16. O'Leary's three catches Saturday were the most in a game he has had since he caught four against USF in Week 5. ... Of the eight fumbles FSU's defense has recovered this season, five have come on the road. ... The Seminoles scored on their first possession for the third time in five road games. It was the second time they had a touchdown on the opening series.