Nov. 23, 2013
By: @BrandonMellor, Seminoles.com Managing Editor
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- No. 2 Florida State sent its seniors off in style Saturday night, setting a school record for points scored in a game in an 80-7 victory over Idaho.
The Seminoles (11-0) officially broke the 18-year-old record (the 1995 team hung 77 on NC State) after linebacker E.J. Levenberry housed a 78-yard interception return with less than five minutes to play in the game.
While a rookie capped off the dominating performance, several `Noles playing in their final game at Doak Campbell Stadium got it all started. Wide receiver Kenny Shaw registered his first 100-yard game of the season, linebacker Telvin Smith turned in a highlight-reel 79-yard interception return and defensive tackle Jacobbi McDaniel picked off the second pass of his career -- all of which occurred in a 42-7 first half.
"I don't think my high school basketball team scored 80 points," Shaw said jokingly afterwards.
Of course, Levenberry and the rest of the younger players did their part in making plays, too.
Jameis Winston continued his stellar, Heisman-Trophy contending season, despite once again not having to play an entire game. The redshirt freshman played in just the first quarters and one series in the second half -- a short final drive that concluded with a rocket-armed 21-yard strike to Kelvin Benjamin in the endzone.
Winston finished the game 14-of-25 for 225 yards and four touchdowns, moving to within one scoring pass of tying Chris Weinke's school-record 33 touchdown tosses he accumulated in 2000. Winston's 32 touchdowns this year is tied with Danny Kanell for No. 2 all time at FSU.
"I thought [Winston] played very solid," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said.
Benjamin grabbed two of those scores. He also had a 32-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter and finished with three grabs for 61 yards. Shaw had 107 yards and two touchdowns after coming within 11 yards of hitting the century mark in six previous games this season.
The `Noles three-headed monster at tailback did work on the ground as well. Devonta Freeman took all the carries in the first quarter and finished the day with 11 runs for a season-high 129 yards and a 60-yard first-quarter score. James Wilder, Jr. only had to carry four times -- the quartet of carries all taking place on the same second-quarter drive -- and finished with 85 yards and one touchdown. Karlos Williams came on in the second half and added 114 yards on just 10 carries.
True freshman Ryan Green ran six times for 32 yards and added a two-yard touchdown catch from Sean Maguire in the fourth quarter. Maguire finished 9-of-14 for 84 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
"We wanted to send those seniors out with a win," Freeman said. "Those are our brothers and you want them to win their last game. We had big holes to run through and just made plays."
The Seminoles were remarkably balanced in the win, rushing for 336 yards and passing for 309. The `Noles' 645 total yards were a season high and marked the third time this year they have eclipsed 600 yards.
With 607 total points this season, Florida State set a school and ACC record for most points in a year, breaking the short-lived record of 550 the Seminoles set in 2012. FSU also set a new conference record for most touchdowns in a year with 80, breaking the 1995 FSU team's previous benchmark of 72.
Defensively, FSU continued its dominance. Led by star junior nose guard Timmy Jernigan, the Seminoles accrued a season-best eight sacks. Jernigan finished with 2 1/2 of those sacks while adding 4 1/2 tackles for loss and six total stops in just a first half of play.
"It was changing the line of scrimmage," Fisher said about Jernigan. "He was making plays by knocking guys into guys. His physicality, he is really becoming a technician."
Already the nation's leader in total interceptions, FSU's defense padded those stats against the Vandals (1-10) with four more interceptions to push their 11-game total to 23. In addition to McDaniel, Smith and Levenberry, true freshman Marquez White also intercepted a pass. Fifteen different `Noles now have an interception this season and for comparison's sake, 14 different players have catches on the offensive side of the football.
Not to be outdone, Roberto Aguayo continued his sensational rookie year kicking. Agauyo set the national record for consecutive made extra points when he drilled his 78th point-after of the season early in the fourth quarter. Agauyo is now 80-for-80 this season.
The Seminoles now cap off the regular season in Gainesville, Nov. 30 at noon on ESPN. Florida (4-7) is coming off a Saturday loss to FCS-level Georgia Southern and is ineligible for a bowl game.
"I guarantee this," Fisher said, despite the Gator's historic struggles, "they'll be ready to play us when we go down there next week. ... We'll be ready and focused and locked in and ready to play Florida. We know we'll get their `A' game. It'll be a hostile and nasty environment."