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Notes, stats and storylines from FSU’s stunning loss to JSU

Florida State suffered one of its worst losses in program history, falling in stunning fashion despite holding a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.

Zerrick Cooper connected with Damond Philyaw-Johnson on a 59-yard touchdown as time expired and Jacksonville State upset Florida State 20-17 on Saturday night.

The Seminoles were sluggish from the start and couldn’t make a 17-7 lead in the fourth quarter hold up as JSU scored touchdowns on its final two drives.

FSU dropped to 0-2 and fell for the first time in 27 matchups against FCS teams.

“We came out and definitely did not play in any way to the standard of what we are capable of,” FSU coach Mike Norvell said. “Penalties. The self-inflicted mistakes, penalties, that’s 100 percent on me. Did not have the guys ready to go. That’s something that will be fixed and will be addressed.”

McKenzie Milton made his first start at Florida State, completing 18 of 31 passes for 133 yards, a touchdown and an interception. But the Seminoles often leaned on the running game, with Jashaun Corbin surpassing the 100-yard mark for a second straight week.

The game was often marred by inconsistency in the passing game for both teams as well as a combined 24 penalties.

Offense

Milton made his first start at Florida State. He completed a 2-yard touchdown pass to Wyatt Rector in the second quarter. Rector has one career carry and one reception, both going for touchdowns.

What could have been a promising opening drive was not. Milton tossed two nice deep passes, but Malik McClain and Keyshawn Helton each dropped them. McClain’s was contested but Helton’s would have gone for a touchdown.

Jordan Travis played on FSU’s second drive alongside Milton, lining up at quarterback, running back and receiver. Travis also was the sole quarterback on FSU’s fourth drive, which was not productive.

After a failed fourth-down pass and three straight punts, Jashaun Corbin scored on a 12-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. Corbin ran for 144 yards against Notre Dame and now has back-to-back 100-yard rushing games.

With FSU leading 17-7 in the fourth quarter, the Seminoles went for it on fourth-and-goal from the 3-yard line but a jump ball pass to McClain was ruled incomplete.

After no tight end caught a pass against Notre Dame, FSU distributed the ball to Camren McDonald (three catches) as well as Jordan Wilson and Rector (two catches each).

Eight receivers caught passes but FSU’s pass offense was plagued by inconsistency and drops. Darion Williamson caught three passes for 32 yards and Andrew Parchment had three receptions for 29 yards.

Defense

Jermaine Johnson had 11 tackles and 2.5 sacks. Kalen DeLoach had seven tackles and a sack.

JSU converted on 5 of 9 third-down opportunities in the first half, including three as part of a 15-play touchdown drive. Josh Samuel scored on a 2-yard TD run in the second quarter that gave the Gamecocks a 7-0 lead.

On JSU’s second drive, Derrick McLendon forced a fumble on a run play and the ball was recovered by Sidney Williams.

In the fourth quarter, JSU put together an 11-play, 97-yard drive capped by Zerrick Cooper’s 23-yard pass to Ahmad Edwards.

Cooper completed 17 of 38 passes for 242 yards. The JSU senior surpassed Eli Jenkins (7,652 from 2013-16) as JSU’s all-time passing leader. He now has 7,819 passing yards for his career.

JSU began the game 5 of 9 on third downs and finished 8 of 17.

Special teams

Alex Mastromanno unleashed a 65-yard punt in the third quarter, pinning JSU at its 1-yard line. It is the longest punt since Logan Tyler had a 61-yard punt against Florida in 2018.

Mastromanno punted six times for a 45.2-yard average.

Ryan Fitzgerald drilled a 53-yard field-goal attempt to extend FSU’s lead to 17-7.

Injury updates

Among the Seminoles who did not play on Saturday: center Maurice Smith, wide receiver Ontaria Wilson, linebacker Emmett Rice and running back D.J. Williams. Baveon Johnson started at center.

With Robert Scott out in the second quarter, FSU adjusted its offensive line to (from left) Darius Washington, Dillan Gibbons, Johnson, Dontae Lucas and Devontay Love-Taylor.

Noteworthy

JSU and FSU combined for 225 penalty yards. FSU had 11 penalties for 114 yards.

VyStar Credit Union donated 400 tickets to first responders so that they could attend Saturday’s game.