Seminoles avoid disaster, earn victory over Northern Illinois
TALLAHASSEE — Florida State brushed off a series of miscues, holding on for its first win over a Football Bowl Subdivision opponent this season.
The Seminoles (2-2) got a boost from their offense during a 37-19 victory over Northern Illinois (1-3), whose offense struggled against the reliable FSU defense.
“A great win for the ’Noles,” head coach Willie Taggart said. “It wasn’t necessarily the best game, but it was a good win for our guys. Our football team got better today, something we needed to do. It was great to get it here at home.”
FSU finally matched up with an offense incapable of sustaining drives. NIU held the field for 22:33 compared to the Seminoles’
The Gulf Coast Offense showed signs of life during the opening touchdown drive. Quarterback Deondre Francois completed a shovel pass to freshman receiver Tre’Shaun Harrison – his first career touch – for
12 yards. Running back Cam Akers kept up the tempo with a gain of 19 yards.
The drive wasn’t as perfect as the numbers suggest. A near-interception at midfield and a shaky touchdown pass to running back Jacques Patrick foreshadowed Francois’ inconsistent play. The pass was intended for wide receiver Keith Gavin, but it deflected into the hands of Patrick.
On the Seminoles’ next scoring drive, Francois
fired a smooth 30-yard pass to wide receiver Nyqwan Murray. Akers later walked into the end zone to put FSU up 14-0.
“[The first two drives] gave them a lot of confidence,” Taggart said. “You see the enthusiasm those guys had on moving the ball down there and being able to score on the first couple of drives. It was something that needed to happen so our guys can get confident knowing that they can actually get it done. And for them to go out and execute it like they did was impressive. Now we need them to execute like that for four quarters.”
The Seminoles led NIU 17-7 just before halftime when a promising drive
stalled and threatened to sap the team’s confidence. After a penalty, kicker Ricky Aguayo brushed off two timeouts called by the Huskies to ice him and connected on a 50-yard field goal that gave his team a 20-7 halftime lead and confidence the Seminoles could hold off the Huskies.
The Seminoles gave up their eighth, ninth, 10 and 11 turnovers of the season, thwarting potential scoring drives. Francois threw a pick directly to linebacker Cortez Hogans and it led to a Huskies touchdown that
made the score 30-19.
NIU finished with nine tackles for a loss and two sacks, signs the offensive line is having difficulty protecting the quarterback and Francois hasn’t mastered evading pressure.
Nose guard Fred Jones said the defense focused more on the details because that’s what wins and loses games.
“I think this is the best game we have played this year but there is way more improvement,” he said. “Now we just have to keep building on this.”
Florida State’s Cam Akers cuts upfield on a running play against Northern Illinois’ defense in the first quarter of Saturday’s game in Tallahassee.