Game Wrap: Noles’ Depth Pulls Out Win

No Keon or Johnny Willson? No problem, as #4th-ranked Florida State scored 24 unanswered points to beat the Pitt Panthers 24-7 and remain unbeaten on the season. With the win, FSU (9-0, 7-0) cliches a spot in the ACC Championship Game on December 2nd in Charlotte, their first since 2014.

Coming into the game, it was known that FSU would be without the services of Johnny Willson for the second consecutive game. However, right before kickoff, it was reported that Keon Coleman had yet to come out to warm up with the rest of the receiver group and, therefore, would not suit up for the game. Deuce Spann and Hykeem Williams were also unavailable for the game.

Down four of their top WR rotation players, FSU would have to rely on the services of players like Ja’Khi Douglas, Destyn Hill (who was also not at 100%), Vandrevius Jacobs, and Kentron Poitier along with the Tight Ends in hopes of replacing the production that Coleman and Wilson typically brought to the game. That group showed FSU’s depth at that position group as Douglas, who is listed at 5’9 and 189 pounds, caught six passes for 115 yards, including a 37-yard dime from Jordan Travis. Destyn Hill had a beautiful catch he took for 29 yards late in the 4th quarter. Markeston “Biscuit” Douglas caught three passes for 41 yards, including a touchdown in the 3rd quarter on a busted defensive coverage by Pitt.

Pitt’s defense came into the game determined not to let FSU get its run game going. For the majority of the game, Pitt rushed six or more players, often tackling the running backs behind the line of scrimmage, daring FSU to throw over top of them with the absence of their two NFL-caliber receivers. On the day, Pitt would have 11 tackles for loss and two sacks. That strategy worked until Mike Norvell and Alex Atkins made a few adjustments in the 2nd and 3rd quarters that would allow FSU to score 24 unanswered points. Those adjustments allowed Travis to pile on the yards. He would finish 22 for 36, 360 yards, and two total touchdowns (1 pass & 1 rush). Trey Benson had a decent day as he ran for 97 yards, including breaking off a 55-yard run in the 3rd quarter to put FSU up 24-7.

The MVP of the game should go to the entire defense, as they kept that Pitt offense and their quarterback, Christian Veilleux, frustrated for most of the day. Veilleux, making only his fourth start of his young college career, finished the day completing less than 50% of his passes (42.8%) for 244 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Pitt would turn the ball over three times with two fumbles and an interception. The Noles held Pitt to a 0 for 11 day on 3rd downs, 89 yards rushing, and 333 yards total for the maligned offense. The defense sacked Veilleux three times and had consistent pressure in the QB’s face. They also came up with what may have been the biggest play of the day when Fentrell Cypress ran down a Pitt receiver and forced a fumble on the 1-yard line to prevent an 82-yard touchdown.

Florida State returns home this Saturday for their last ACC game of the year in a sold-out matchup against rival Miami. The game time has yet to be announced. Thanks for reading and Go Noles!

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