Travis makes a case for starting QB job in first FSU win

Florida State might have found its newest starting quarterback, after redshirt sophomore Jordan Travis’ impressive performance in a must-win game for the Seminoles.

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 last Saturday was Florida State’s first of the season and first under first-year head coach Mike Norvell.  The Seminoles outscored the Gamecocks by 24 points in the second half after trailing 21-14 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.”

Jordan Travis completed 12 of 17 passes for 210 yards and one touchdown.

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,” said 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 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).

Norvell was on the sidelines for the first time since being diagnosed with coronavirus. He missed the Seminoles’ previous game against Miami.

“It was great to be back on the sideline with them,” said Norvell.  “The first quarter didn’t necessarily start off like we envisioned.  

“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.”

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 were forced to punt only three times, a vast contrast to the seven times they had to punt in their previous 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.

Jacksonville State immediately answered with a 60-yard scoring drive of its own to increase its lead back to 14, at 21-7.

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.

FSU tied it 21-21 before putting the game out of reach.