Jacksonville Sports Day

Bonts: ‘Noles Sought Redemption Against ULM

Photo by Phil Kelly/ULM

TALLAHASSEE — With their opening season loss to Boise State still in their real view mirror, Florida State barely handled the University of Louisiana-Monroe 45-44 in OT Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

FSU’s Cam Akers scored first in OT followed by a successful point after by Ricky Aguayo.

It looked like the Warhawks would tie it up in OT when QB Caleb Evans scored on a five-yard run. But Jacob Meeks missed the extra point and secured the ‘Noles win. The left-footed kicker missed to the right

Meeks had hit a 24-yarder to knot the game at 38-38 with 3:48 to play and send the game into OT.

“Like I said before, our football team is still learning how to win,” head coach Willie Taggart said in his postgame press conference. “And they found a way tonight to get a ‘W.’”

In a game that produced more questions than provided answers, the Seminoles created some separation from the spunky Warhawks on the opening drive of the fourth quarter.

QB James Blackman found DJ Mathews in the end zone for a seven-yard TD to increase the ‘Noles lead to 31-21.

Blackman was 30 of 40 passing for 282 yards.

Question was, would that be enough to hold off ULM(1-1) with 13:22 to play in the game.

No.

Evans led the Warhawks on a nine play, 60 -yard drive that resulted in a two-yard passing score to Xavier Brown.

Then ULM picked off Blackman for the second time in the game inside the FSU 35.

ULM went ahead 35-31 on Josh Johnson’s one yard run. Johnson finished with 126 yards on 16 carries.

FSU regained the lead when Akers scored on a 44-yard pass from Blackman. Akers gained 209 yards on 36 carries. He also caught five passes for 55 yards.

Akers scored his second touchdown of the season from nine-yards out. Tre’Shaun Harrison caught a 19-yard TD pass from Blackman as FSU built a 14-0 first quarter lead.

Blackman scampered for his first rushing TD of the season on a six-yard run to open the second quarter.

The Seminoles’ defense held ULM on fourth down at the FSU one-yard line in the second quarter. The Warhawks marched down the field aided by two FSU pass interference calls. But could not cash in after four tries from the one.

But on their next possession ULM made it 21-7 on Evans’ 33-yard touchdown pass to Josh Pederson.

Evans would use his feet to pull the Warhawks to within three with 2:59 to play in the third quarter.Evans’ 10-yard run was his first rushing TD of the season.

Evans was 23 of 38 passing for 241 yards. Pederson had 85 yards on six receptions.

Aguayo’s 36-yard field goal added to the FSU advantage as time ran out in the first half.

The visitors cut the margin to 24-14 when Cory Straughter intercepted Blackman and returned it 57 yards for a TD in the third quarter. It was Blackman’s first interception of the season

The Seminoles look out of sync. Too many penalties, no big play offense and a defense that was on the field too long.

FSU was penalized 11 times for 108 yards. Penalties gave ULM four first downs.

That included an unnecessary roughness penalty that led to ULM’s game-tying field goal late in the fourth quarter.

“When you have 11 penalties, bad things happen,” Taggart said. “And I felt that was a big, big reason why we were in the situation we were.”

ULM had the ball for 45:41 compared to FSU’s 29:19.

Any celebration over an out manned opponent needs to be short lived.

The Seminoles (1-1) begin the ACC schedule next Saturday at Virginia.

GAME NOTES: FSU is now 11-1 all-time against Sun Belt Conference teams, 3-0 against ULM….attendance was announced as 52,969…..Tamorrion Terry led FSU receivers with 57 yards on six catches….DJ Mathews had seven receptions for 47 yards….the ‘Noles defense gave up 419 yards…Tommy Martin’s career debut as the Noles’ punter included a 58-yarder, that was covered by Asante Samuel Jr. at the 1-yard line, where ULM began its first possession of the second half. He averaged 42.8 yards on five punts…Jaiden Lars-Woodbey’s third quarter fumble recovery – the third of the season forced by Hamsah Nasirildeen – was the Noles’ third fumble recovery of the season, equaling their 2018 season total…Nasirildeen led the Noles in tackles with 10… junior DB Cyrus Fagan made his first career start.

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