FSU legend Dalvin Cook sent Trey Benson a message before the game and told him, “The rushing game was going to hit.” Benson took that prediction and made it a reality as he totaled 200 of FSU’s 282 yards on the ground along with two TDs as the 5th ranked Seminoles won in convincing fashion 39-17 over the Virginia Tech Hokies (2-4, 1-1) to move to 5-0 overall and 3-0 in the ACC. The Noles are 5-0 for the first time since 2015.
Benson, who had come into the game having struggled to get going in the previous four games, made sure game number five went much different. His first rush went for 15 yards before a holding call on Keon Coleman negated the decisive run. However, that run was a sign of what would come during the rest of the game. Head Coach and play-caller Mike Norvell made sure Benson and the rest of the running back room would have the ball in their hands throughout the night to get a jump start on what had been a disappointing start to the season for the run game.
Benson, Toafili, and Hill combined for 23 carries, 264 yards, averaging 11.5 yards per carry. Toafili, in shades of his tip-toe touchdown at Clemson two years ago, took the ball 28 yards before being presumably tackled. Replay showed he rolled on the top of a player into the endzone! However, it was Benson who was the star of the game. Benson had the longest runs of the day, with one going for 62 yards and the other for 85 yards. In his post-game presser, Benson knew the running backs had to get going. “We’ve just been hearing that the running game hasn’t been working good,” Benson said. “This game, we really emphasized the run. In the running back room, we said, ‘We got to get it going today. We’re not taking no for an answer.”
In somewhat of a return to his former self, Jordan Travis added to the run total by toting the rock for ten carries and 41 yards. Speaking of the Heisman Trophy Candidate, Travis had what many would consider a so-so day as he did what he needed to do with an 18 for 24, 170 yards passing, and 2 TDs, both going to Johnny Wilson, who subsequently left the game after being injured on a catch early in the third quarter.
Travis ran when he needed to and connected on crucial throws when he needed to, but nothing spectacular. He would go two for six on throws 15+ yards down the field as Virginia Tech attempted to keep everything in front of them on defense.
Virginia Tech came into the game confident after their first ACC win of the season over Pitt, hoping to repeat their showing from last week in Blacksburg. However, the Seminoles’ defense had other plans. After getting off to slow starts in three of the first four games, Florida State’s defense started fast. Virginia Tech went three and out on their first three drives, running 9 plays for 9 yards, while FSU’s offense scored 22 unanswered points.
Noles fans had to be excited about the start of the game they’d been waiting to see. However, the 2nd quarter was anything but fun. What looked like an early blowout turned into a tension-filled 15 minutes of game time in the 2nd quarter that rolled into the opening kickoff of the third quarter. New starting quarterback Kyron Drones was 14 of 27 for 104 yards and ran 14 times for 80; most of it came in that dreadful 2nd quarter. Virginia Tech would score ten unanswered points to go into the break.
FSU was flagged three times in the 2nd qtr for 30 yards, including a roughing the passer flag on Byron Turner that wiped out an incredible interception made by Azareye’h Thomas at the VT’s 45-yard line. Virginia Tech would later score on a field goal by John Love on that drive to go into the half down 22-10.
Virginia Tech wasn’t done as it came out of the break looking to keep the momentum going, and boy did it. After deferring to the 2nd half, Bhayshul Tuten took the 2nd half kickoff and ran it down FSU’s throat for 99 yards and the touchdown. With the score being 22-17, Noles fans likely began asking if they were headed towards another Boston College like finish or worse. But the Noles would answer that question quickly and definitively.
On 1st and 10 from the FSU 25, after a 13-yard completion to Johnny Wilson (a play in which Johnny was subsequently injured), Jordan Travis handed the ball off to Benson, who went left, cut back, and took the ball 62 yards to the house to put FSU up 29-17 and with that, the Noles clamped down in front of a soldout Bobby Bowden Field at Doak Campbell Stadium and showed why they are the 5th ranked team in the nation. Benson would later add an 85-yard run to seal the game.
Mike Norvell had to love what he saw out of his team in this game. “We talk all the time about our response,” Norvell said. “We talk about finishing strong. Obviously, the opening kickoff to the second half did not go the way we wanted, but you saw a tremendous response from our football team. Two plays later, a big (touchdown) run by Trey.”
Florida State will take its 11-game win streak, the second-longest in the nation, into its game next weekend as Syracuse (4-2, 0-2) comes to town after its 40-7 loss to 14th ranked North Carolina. The ACC has slated the kickoff for noon on ABC. Thanks for reading, and Go Noles!!
Quotes from coaches, players, and stats were provided by seminoles.com
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