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Bleak start turns into blowout victory for Florida State

Quarterback Jordan Travis comes off the bench to lead the Seminoles to touchdowns on five straight drives.
Quarterback Jordan Travis of the Florida State Seminoles on a passing play during the game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday.
Quarterback Jordan Travis of the Florida State Seminoles on a passing play during the game against the Jacksonville State Gamecocks at Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday. [ DON JUAN MOORE | Don Juan Moore ]
Published Oct. 4, 2020

TALLAHASSEE — Florida State was struggling on offense and turned to a new quarterback for a spark. And when that didn’t work, coach Mike Norvell opted to play yet another quarterback.

Jordan Travis came off the bench to lead Florida State to touchdowns on five straight drives as the Seminoles rallied to knock off Jacksonville State 41-24 on Saturday.

Travis completed 13 of 18 passes for a career-high 215 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass to Keyshawn Helton. The redshirt sophomore also added a touchdown run, one of five scoring runs for the Seminoles.

“It wasn’t pretty at times tonight, but it might’ve been exactly what we needed,” Norvell said. “We needed to be able to respond to adversity, we needed to be able to go out there and have sustained success through those moments and be able to feed off each other.”

Florida State (1-2), which picked up the first win of the Norvell Era, trailed 14-0 in the first quarter and went scoreless on four drives to start the game under the direction of Tate Rodemaker. The true freshman was starting after the Seminoles' offense couldn’t find any consistency in two games under junior James Blackman.

Norvell turned to Travis, who used his legs to extend drives and completed passes with accuracy. Travis had transferred to Florida State from Louisville before the 2019 season, and he had been critical to a win at Boston College last November with a pair of long touchdown runs. But Travis had never been the quarterback the Seminoles leaned on for the majority of a game.

That changed Saturday. Travis was comfortable under pressure as the touchdowns piled up in the second and third quarters.

“I’m just trying to have fun,” Travis said. “It was a special feeling for sure. The main goal is to get better throwing the ball. Just have to keep working.”

Travis was helped by a ground attack that turned in its best performance of the year. Pinellas Park High alumnus Lawrance Toafili ran for 99 yards and a touchdown for FSU, which finished with 263 rushing yards on 53 carries. The Seminoles were held to just 38 first-half rushing yards.

Zerrick Cooper completed 22 of 30 passes for 232 yards and had a rushing touchdown for Jacksonville State (0-1). Cooper, a Clemson transfer who threw for back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons, was efficient but a fourth-quarter interception snagged by Asante Samuel Jr. all but ended the Gamecocks' upset bid.

Florida State’s defense had struggled on third down, allowing Georgia Tech and Miami to convert on a combined 19 of 32 situations. But the Seminoles were able to hold Jacksonville State to just 3 of 10 on Saturday.

Redshirt junior Tamorrion Terry hauled in a 48-yard grab from Travis, helping set up a touchdown on FSU’s opening drive of the third quarter. Terry surpassed the 2,000-yard mark for his career on the play.

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