Florida State couldn’t have known that it would need a victory over Alabama State to be bowl-eligible when the schedule was created nine months ago.
But the $425,000 paid to the FCS school was well worth it.
James Blackman threw three touchdown passes and Khalan Laborn had two TD runs as Florida State often looked sluggish on both sides of the football but remained comfortably in front in taking a 49-12 win over the Hornets on Saturday.
The Seminoles (6-5) are bowl-eligible under interim head coach Odell Haggins for the second time in three years. Haggins is 4-0 as a coach, first filling in at the end of the 2017 season when Jimbo Fisher left for Texas A&M and now after the dismissal of Willie Taggart on Nov. 3.
“We won’t be in a New Year’s Day bowl,” Haggins said. “But we’re going bowling. That’s something we can build on as a university. And we’re going to build on it.”
Tamorrion Terry caught a 69-yard TD pass on the first FSU offensive play. Terry has TD catches of 44, 60, 64, 69, 74 and 75 yards this season. (He has eight total TDs.)
Blackman tossed a 69-yard touchdown pass to Tamorrion Terry and a 39-yard touchdown pass to Tre’Shaun Harrison. He completed 13 of 22 passes for 246 yards.
Blackman’s 12-yard TD pass to D.J. Matthews was his third of the game and the 40th of his career, positioning him alone at No. 11 on the all-time TD pass list, eclipsing Jimmy Jordan and Bill Cappleman (39).
Khalan Laborn had a pair of touchdown runs. He had 12 carries for 55 yards, filling in for injured tailback Cam Akers (hand).
Jordan Travis had a 61-yard run in the fourth quarter. Travis attempted his first pass at FSU, a 5-yard toss to Gabe Nabers. Travis and Nabers connected on a 61-yard pass that set up Deonte Sheffield’s first career touchdown, from 2 yards out, in the final minute.
Hamsah Nasirildeen had a weaving, 80-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter that extended FSU’s lead to 35-12.
Nasirildeen had 11 tackles through three quarters.
Dennis Briggs had six tackles and a sack.
Brendan Gant was flagged for targeting in the fourth quarter. He will miss the first half of the Florida game.
Attendance – 52,857.
Sophomore CB A.J. Lytton made his first career start, as did redshirt sophomore RB Khalan Laborn. Freshman LB Kevon Glenn and freshman DE Quashon Fuller made their first career appearance during Saturday’s game. Among others who made their first appearance was redshirt freshman WR Caleb Ward, the son of Heisman Trophy-winning QB Charlie Ward.
FSU will next play at Florida on Nov. 30. The game time and TV has not been set.