Florida State ran at will and was able to cruise with freshmen on the field in the second half. It was a low-stress homecoming as the Seminoles routed UMass 59-3 on Saturday.
Jordan Travis, Jashaun Corbin, Treshaun Ward, D.J. Williams and Lawrance Toafili each had rushing touchdowns as FSU had 369 rushing yards on 43 carries.
The Seminoles (3-4) have won three straight games for the first time since the end of the 2017 season. They have now won nine straight homecoming games.
“We were able to run the football,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “Defensively, did a really nice job all day. Still a lot of work that we got to continue to do but it’s good to see the confidence slowly growing. The confidence is coming from the work and the investment they’re making.”
FSU matched its season high in points for a game with 38 in the first half alone.
The Seminoles are the first team in the 69-year history of the ACC to start 0-4 and win its next three games.
FSU had a season-high 586 yards on 60 plays.
Travis completed 5 of 10 passes for 123 yards. He ran nine times for 78 yards.
Corbin ran 11 times for 127 yards. It was his fourth straight 100-yard rushing game.
Ward ran eight times for 57 yards. Williams ran twice for 24 yards.
By halftime, FSU had 385 offensive yards (including 262 rushing yards) and led 38-3. Jordan Travis, Jashaun Corbin, Treshaun Ward and D.J. Williams each had rushing touchdowns.
FSU has rushed for 200 yards and two touchdowns in four straight games. According to ESPN’s research, the last ACC team with a longer streak was Clemson, which had five in 2019.
FSU played most of the game without its usual starting guards. Baveon Johnson started at right guard for Devontay Love-Taylor. Dillan Gibbons went to the locker room late in the first quarter, with Brady Scott stepping in at left guard.
Darius Washington left the game with an injury early in the third quarter. Scott slid to left tackle, with Zane Herring playing at left guard. Washington returned on the next drive.
In the third quarter, Chubba Purdy connected with Darion Williamson for 16 yards on his first pass of 2021. Purdy threw a 12-yard TD pass to Camren McDonald to complete a six-play, 69-yard drive. FSU led 45-3 at that point.
Purdy completed 5 of 5 passes for 98 yards and two touchdowns. He also connected with Jordan Young on a 5-yard TD pass.
“McKenzie (Milton) talked to Coach Norvell and he wanted me and Tate (Rodemaker) and the younger guys to get some reps,” Purdy said. “I can’t thank him enough for that, I really appreciate that. He wants nothing but the best for me, Jordan, Tate — whoever gets in the game. He is super positive. Jordan and McKenzie have been awesome, they always help me out every time I have a question.”
Young’s touchdown set off a celebration on the sideline as everyone from Travis to receiver Keyshawn Helton enjoyed the moment.
“It just shows what type of team we’re becoming,” Travis said. “We’re brothers. Last year you would not see that at all. Guys like seeing other guys making plays. And that’s what so special. It’s a team game and we’re a team for once. It feels like a team this year. It’s a bunch of guys that love each other. It’s really special.”
FSU substituted liberally in the third quarter. Among the freshmen or younger players to get in the game: quarterback Tate Rodemaker, offensive linemen Lloyd Willis and Herring, tight ends Austin White, Markeston Douglas and Jackson West, Williamson and tailback Ja’Khi Douglas.
FSU has grabbed interceptions at the goal line or in end zone in back-to-back games. Jarrian Jones picked off UNC’s Sam Howell, while Jammie Robinson intercepted UMass’ Brady Olson on Saturday.
Jarvis Brownlee had a 70-yard interception return for a touchdown in the second quarter.
“That’s important,” Brownlee said. “I don’t think we’ve had a shutout since, I don’t know when. That was the main focus, coming out and making sure they don’t get on the board. We knew we were going to come into the game and dominate. And I feel like we feel like that every week, it’s just about starting fast. I feel like once we do that, nobody can stop us in the nation.”
The Seminoles held UMass tailback Ellis Merriweather to one yards on 10 carries. UMass had just 241 offensive yards (129 passing and 112 rushing).
FSU forced six punts and UMass’ final two drives ended as the Seminoles made fourth-down stops — first at the FSU 28 and then at the FSU 10 with one minute to go.
Amari Gainer had six tackles, while D.J. Lundy had five tackles.
UMass scored its only points early off a fumbled kickoff return. Cameron Carson connected on a season-long 45-yard field-goal attempt to put the Minutemen on the board.
FSU was able to substitute liberally in the third and fourth quarter. Among those who played were: Defensive tackles Tru Thompson and Joshua Farmer, linebacker DeCalon Brooks and defensive backs Shyheim Brown and Caleb Blake.
Marcus Cushnie had 1.5 sacks.
Sidney Williams did not dress out.
FSU had just three penalties for 41 yards.
The announced attendance was 51,915 (tickets distributed).
A piece of the grass from FSU’s win over UNC two weeks ago was on display at the Sod Cemetery.
Swimmer Paxton Rhoads was the homecoming chief.
FSU will next play at Clemson on Oct. 30 at 3:30 p.m.