NIU puts up a fight

Carey: Huskies ‘were swing­ing, just didn’t land some punches’

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGO SPORTS - By Bob Fer­rante

TALLAHASSE­E, Fla. — Deon­dre Fran­cois threw for a sea­son­high 352 yards and two touch­downs, and Florida State used an ef­fi­cient first-half of­fense en route to a 37-19 vic­tory over North­ern Illi­nois on Satur­day.

Fran­cois, a ju­nior, had his sev­enth ca­reer 300-yard day, com­plet­ing 23 of 31 passes, in­clud­ing a 78-yard touch­down to Tamor­rion Terry and an 8-yard score to Jac­ques Pa­trick.

Mar­cus Childers tossed a pair of touch­down passes, in­clud­ing a 66-yard catch-and-run to D.J. Brown. Childers com­pleted 20 of 41 passes for 215 yards and had an 11-yard touch­down run for NIU (1-3), which was forced to punt eight times and couldn’t con­vert a pair of fourth-down con­ver­sions.

“We were in a fight, we were swing­ing and just didn’t land some of our punches,” Huskies coach Rod Carey said. “We didn’t do enough of­fen­sively.”

Florida State (2-2) held NIU to 6 rush­ing yards on 20 car­ries, the low­est to­tal al­lowed by the Semi­noles since 2008.

The Huskies were ranked 128th out of 130 FBS teams in scor­ing of­fense com­ing in and needed 19 min­utes to earn a first down. NIU scored its first-half touch­down with the ben­e­fit of a short field, start­ing at the Florida State 23 after re­cov­er­ing a fum­ble. That set up Childers’ TD pass to Jauan Wes­ley.

The Semi­noles held a play­er­sonly meet­ing early in the week, and coach Wil­lie Tag­gart saw a re-en­er­gized per­for­mance in prac­tice that car­ried over to the game.

“A lot of that had to do with just our play­ers, their com­mit­ment to get­ting bet­ter,” Tag­gart said. “It started this week. They de­cided they were go­ing to get bet­ter. They de­cided they were go­ing to prac­tice bet­ter and hold each other ac­count­able.”

De­spite us­ing a fourth of­fen­sive line com­bi­na­tion, the Semi­noles gen­er­ated a sea­son-high 473 yards against the Huskies. Florida State was at its best in the first half, gen­er­at­ing four scor­ing drives for a 20-7 lead.

It was Tag­gart’s first vic­tory of the sea­son over an FBS op­po­nent. Florida State’s other win came Sept. 8 against Sam­ford.

Keith Gavin set ca­reer highs for catches (six) and re­ceiv­ing yards (93) in the first half for the Semi­noles, who won their 15th con­sec­u­tive non­con­fer­ence home game.

STEVEN CAN­NON / AP

Florida State’s Cam Ak­ers avoids a tackle at­tempt by North­ern Illi­nois’ An­to­nio Jones-Davis on Satur­day.

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