TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — 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 FCS program 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 TD 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 quarterback 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 the game.
That changed on 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. Lawrance Toafili ran for 99 yards and a touchdown for Florida State, 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 JSU (0-1). Cooper, a Clemson transfer who threw for back-to-back 3,000-yard seasons at JSU, was efficient but a fourth-quarter interception snagged by Florida State’s 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 JSU to just 3 of 10 on Saturday.
“I don’t buy into moral victories,” JSU coach John Grass said. “Depth issues kind of caught up with us in the second half. We just could not get off the field in the second half. Their size and depth caught up with us.”
JSU’s Kolbi Fuqua also had a 13-yard interception return for a touchdown in the first quarter.
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.
Florida State was without defensive tackle Robert Cooper, who had his right arm in a sling pregame, as well as safety Travis Jay, who was on crutches. Safety Hamsah Nasirildeen, who was the Seminoles’ leading tackler in 2019, did not play. Backup offensive lineman Brady Scott also did not play.
Jacksonville State plays host to Mercer next Saturday.
Florida State plays at Notre Dame next Saturday.
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25