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(Photo by Maury Neipris-FSU Athletics)
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Seminoles.com) – With the same ruthless efficiency that was the calling card for the 2013 national champions, top-ranked Florida State rolled through The Citadel 37-12 in front of a home-opening crowd of 81,294 at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Moving the ball and the chains at will against a Bulldog defensive front which yielded on average 53 pounds to FSU’s offensive line, the Seminoles scored on each of their four first half possessions to grab a 28-0 lead.
Averaging 8.1 yards per play in the first half, the Seminoles (2-0) amassed 291 yards on 36 snaps. FSU was equally efficient on the ground and through the air, pounding out 141 rushing yards on 19 carries while adding 150 through the air behind Jameis Winston’s near-perfect performance.
Winston completed 16 of 17 attempts in the first half, spreading the ball between seven teammates, including scoring strikes of 12 yards to Jesus Wilson and 1 yard to Nick O’Leary. His lone incomplete pass of the first half came on a shovel pass intended for Kermit Whitfield, which was initially ruled a rushing attempt.
The Seminoles’ ground game produced touchdown runs of one and five yards by Karlos Williams and freshman Dalvin Cook, respectively. FSU averaged 7.4 yards a carry with Williams piling up a team-leading 62 yards on seven first half totes.
About the only thing that didn’t go well for the Seminoles in the opening half was completely out of their control. Interior defensive linemen Eddie Goldman, Justin Shanks and Nile Lawrence-Stample all suffered lower leg injuries and did not return.
Despite their absence, the defense stood strong against the Bulldogs’ confounding triple-option. The Citadel, which annually ranks among the top Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) rushing leaders, managed 127 yards on 33 plays in the first half; 115 of those on the ground on 28 carries.
FSU’s first half dominance enabled head coach Jimbo Fisher to break in two potential first-year offensive weapons. Cook ripped off a 17-yard run on his first career carry, which came on the Seminoles first offensive snap of the second quarter. Freshman wide receiver Ermon Lane had a pair of first half receptions, including his first career grab for 14 yards and a first down.
By the third series of the second half, freshman Roderick Johnson and redshirt freshmen Wilson Bell and Ryan Hoefeld and junior college transfers Kareem Are and Chad Mavety were in the game.
Defensively, freshmen interior linemen Derrick Nnadi and Demarcus Christmas stepped in to bolster the rotation, as did defensive end Rick Leonard.
Though unable to sustain their first half efficiency, the Seminoles continued to extend their lead in the second half as Roberto Aguayo capped third quarter drives of 58 and 71 yards with field goals of 22 and 27 yards, extending the lead to 34-0. Perhaps more impressively, the FSU defense surrendered just 49 yards in the third quarter.
Sean Maguire replaced Winston (22-27, 256 yards) at quarterback with 1:41 remaining in the third quarter. The Seminoles did not punt until the first play of the fourth quarter.
The Citadel (0-2) avoided the shutout when Rudder Brown capped a 10-play, 76-yard drive by collecting a 10-yard touchdown pass from Aaron Miller with 10:12 remaining in the game.
Maguire countered by leading the Noles on a 14-play, 58-yard drive, which Aguayo finished with his third field goal of the game – this one from 24 yards – for the second consecutive week.
DeAndre Schoultz collected a 10-yard touchdown pass from Dominique Allen with 12 seconds remaining for the final points of the game as the two-point conversion pass failed.
The Seminoles closed out the night with 494 total yards on 67 plays for a healthy 7.4 yards per snap, equally balancing the run (35-210 yards) and the pass (25-32-0, 284), to go along with 28 first downs.