Benson rides will to win to a record performance for FSU
Special to the Outlook
Trey Benson has an attitude about winning football games that FSU coach Mike Norvell couldn’t help bringing up Saturday afternoon.
“He is going to do whatever is necessary to help this team win,” Norvell said, following a 200-yard performance by the red-shirt junior running back. “He maintains his focus on improvement. He trusts his speed and when he gets in the open field, there is a lot of power running downfield. He is a great player, a great teammate and a young man.”
Benson’s career-high 200 yards came in Florida State’s 39-17 win over Virginia Tech in front of a sold-out crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium.
FSU improved to 5-0, while extending its winning streak to 11 games that include the final six games last season.
Benson took advantage of every opportunity that blockers created and in the process broke the school record for average per carry in a game with at least 10 attempts with an 18.2-yard average. His 200 yards were the most for an FSU running back since Dalvin Cook gained over 200 yards against Syracuse in 2016.
“Trey is incredible,” Norvell said. “Even in the Clemson game; we didn’t have the success in the run game but he impacted that game. He did it as a pass receiver (and) he had three big plays in the game; catching the ball in the backfield.”
Benson’s athleticism makes a lot of what he does second-nature, Norvell said.
“He is big. He is powerful. He will run tough between the tackles but also has home-run hitting speed when he gets out there on the edge,” he said. “He’s improved his game as a pass receiver and his willingness to do the dirty work as a blocker, too.
“There are a lot of guys that are situational, but he can do it all and he embraces that in his work ethic.”
Benson’s gains on runs was one reason that the FSU offense was unstoppable earlier scoring on its first three possessions to take a 22-0 lead before the first quarter was over. The Hokies managed 10 unanswered points in the second quarter and opened the second half with a kickoff return for a touchdown before the Seminoles’ defense turned up the intensity and kept them from scoring the rest of the game.
Quarterback Jordan Travis was masterful, connecting on 18 of 24 passes for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
“I thought he did a great job of managing the game and the things that we asked him to do,” Norvell said of Travis. “He didn’t turn the ball over offensively.”
Johnny Wilson had four catches for 54 yards and was on the receiving end of both Travis’ scoring tosses. Tight end Kyle Morlock also had four catches for 30 yards in a game that saw eight different receivers catch a pass. FSU finished with 452 yards of total offense.
Virginia Tech quarterback Kyron Drones was 14 of 27 for 104 yards with no touchdowns and was also the Hokies’ leading rusher with 14 carries for 80 yards most of which came on a 40-yard scamper. The Hokies finished with 313 yards including 209 on the ground.
Defensive end Jared Verse had two quarterback sacks and two tackles-for-loss to top the Seminoles in both categories while linebacker Kalen DeLoach led the team with nine tackles.
Florida State took the opening possession 75 yards on 13 plays and a 6-0 lead when Travis connected with Wilson on a 7-yard touchdown pass. The Seminoles made it 8-0 by surprising Tech with a two-point conversion from the initial off-set kick attempt formation when tight end Brian Courtney was in motion, grabbed a perfectly timed snap and scored over the right side with 9:13 on the clock
Lawrance Toafili made it 15-0 FSU when he surfed over two Hokie defenders on the final five yards of a 28-yard touchdown run with 4:44 left in the quarter. The score capped a 66-yard, seven-play drive.
The Noles’ third scoring drive was set up by a 32-yard punt return by Keon Coleman that gave FSU the ball on the Tech 45. On the scoring play, Travis spotted a blitz by the Hokies right corner and connected with Wilson on his left from 18-yards out to make it 22-0 with 1:34 left in the first quarter.
Florida State’s defense dominated the Hokies in the first quarter holding the visitors to just nine yards on 11 plays with no first downs, while the Noles’ offense was nearly perfectly balanced gaining 100 of their 198 first-quarter yards through the air on 9-of-12 passing from Travis.
The Seminoles will host Syracuse this Saturday on ABC. Kickoff time was not immediately announced.
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