Florida State Handles Chattanooga on Senior Day

 

 

 

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (seminoles.com)– Nile Lawrence-Stample lingered on the field, taking one last, long gaze at the scene inside Doak Campbell Stadium.

Lamarcus Brutus greeted his family and posed for pictures before making his way into the locker room for the final time.

If Florida State’s seniors had to play their final home games, this was a good way to do it.

Dalvin Cook ran for two touchdowns, Sean Maguire threw for two more and FSU’s senior class tied a school record for total wins in a career after a 52-13, Senior Day romp over Chattanooga.

The seniors won for the 48th time since 2012, and can set a new mark for most wins in a four-year span in next week’s season finale at Florida.

“I’m really happy it ended that way,” Lawrence-Stample said. “I was just really trying to soak it all in and just take in the moment.”

Lawrence-Stample and his fellow starters had plenty of time for that. After the Seminoles built a big lead early in the second half, coach Jimbo Fisher emptied his bench and offered fans a glimpse of the future on a day when they said goodbye to some of the stars of the present.

Quarterback J.J. Cosentino, receivers Nyqwan Murray and Auden Tate and defensive backs Tarvarus McFadden and Marcus Lewis were just a few of the newcomers who helped polish off FSU’s win over the Mocs.

The day, though, belonged to the seniors. The Seminoles on Saturday clinched a third-straight perfect home slate and, with two games to play, have a chance to win 50 games during their careers.

“It’s a great accomplishment by them,” Fisher said. “And it was their day. It was about the seniors and everything that went on there.” 

Donning alternate, black uniforms for the first time of the Fisher Era, FSU over came an inauspicious start to push past UTC and pull away in the second half.

The Mocs, ranked ninth in the FCS Coaches’ Poll, took a 3-0 lead after recovering a fumble on the opening kickoff and, after freshman Jacques Patrick gave FSU a 7-3 lead, kicked another field goal to cut their deficit to one.

After that, it was all Seminoles.

On the strength of an efficient running game and a budding connection between Maguire and receiver Kermit Whitfield, the Seminoles went on a 38-0 run in the second and third quarters that squashed any upset aspirations.

Cook reached the end zone twice, on runs of 13 and two yards, and finished with 106 yards on 15 carries before making an early exit in the third quarter.

The Miami native now has 1,475 rushing yards for the season, extending the school record that he set in last week’s win over NC State. He’ll have one last chance to impress awards voters when he faces Florida’s No. 9-ranked rush defense next week.

“(Senior Day) is supposed to be emotional, but we had fun,” Cook said. “Our class enjoys that time here. You wouldn’t have known it was their last game here. I like that.”

Maguire and Whitfield, meanwhile, hooked up for two touchdowns for the second straight week.

Making his first appearance as FSU’s full-time starter, Maguire completed 12 of 17 passes for 152 yards, 91 of which went to Whitfield.

The junior speedster scored touchdowns of 26 and 13 yards, and has 208 yards and four TDs in his last two games.

“He’s just a playmaker,” Maguire said. “Getting the ball in his hands – you hit him on a five-yard slant route and he takes it to the house. He’s just tremendous.”

And FSU’s defense did its part to hold one of the Football Championship Subdivision’s top rushing offenses in check.

UTC quarterback Jacob Huesman is one of just a few quarterbacks in the country to rush and pass for 1,000 yards, but he finished with just 115 total yards (94 passing, 21 rushing) on Saturday.

The Mocs put up 273 yards of offense, but a large chunk of that total – as well as UTC’s lone touchdown of the game – came after the Seminoles subbed out their defensive starters.

Lawrence-Stample said the Seminoles took UTC seriously in practice, which in turn allowed them to turn in another strong defensive showing.

“It took us a little bit to adjust, but I think we really did take a good approach to it,” he said. “They were just trying to do really small stuff, little dumps around the edges and stuff like that.”

Brutus and fellow senior Tyler Hunter each came up with turnovers in their final home game, and each led to touchdowns.

Brutus even joked after the game that, rather than try to score, he went down on purpose so that Cook could boost his Heisman campaign with another touchdown.

“I always try to look out for the young ones, and him being my boy, I was like ‘Let’s give him another touchdown,’” Brutus said with a big grin. “So I let the quarterback get me."