The Seminoles (2-0) stumbled initially – and even trailed 10-3 late in the second quarter – but ultimately achieved goals of solving some offensive question marks and getting its younger players a taste of game action.
"In the second half, we finally realized that we couldn't just show up and beat them," FSU quarterback Drew Weatherford said. "We knew we had to execute better."
That they did.
FSU scored five third-quarter touchdowns to remove any mystery involving the outcome of a game that it led just 13-10 at the half. The Seminoles' offense registered more touchdowns in that one quarter than it had in its previous three games combined.
Choosing to address issues surrounding the passing game, FSU took to the air early and often Saturday night and experienced eventual – and impressive – results.
Three FSU receivers turned in 100-yard efforts, the first time in team history that three pass catchers have eclipsed the century park in the same game.
Starting quarterback Drew Weatherford overcame three turnovers and completed 26-of-37 passes for 342 yards. Reserve Xavier Lee added 143 and a 24-yard touchdown run.
Four first-half turnovers made for a rocky start to the endeavor, but when the game was in the books, FSU had thrown for 485 yards on the night.
"That was our goal," said De'Cody Fagg, who snared seven passes for 113 yards. "We wanted to come out here and show people that FSU can still throw the football."
Chris Davis (9-125) also Greg Carr (3-104) each had career nights catching the ball.
"They beat us for the first 28 minutes but we played as well as we could have after that," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.
Limited to just 91 yards by the FSU defense, the Division I-AA Bulldogs never had a prayer in their efforts to move the ball.
But thanks to a pair of miscues by FSU's inexperienced quarterbacks, points did materialize for The Citadel in the early going.
A Lee interception set up Blake Vandiver's career-long 45-yard field goal to cap a scoring drive that actually went for minus-15 yards.
The Citadel then shocked the crowd of 79, 152 when it took the lead on Vincent Hill's 70-yard touchdown return on a fumbled option pitch by Weatherford two drives later.
That's when the alarm clock finally sounded.
Seminoles snapped out of a funk that featured three turnovers in three drives by marching 71 yards in just 1:27 for the game-tying score a minute before halftime, a 5-yard hookup between Weatherford and Rod Owens.
The touchdown was FSU's first in over 71 minutes.
"We are a young team and we played like it in the first half," said Weatherford, who completed 7-of-8 attempts on the watershed march.
"We have two great running backs and everyone knows we can run the ball. I think we showed teams we can throw the ball, too."
Coming courtesy of a botched punt try, Gary Cismesia's 46-yard field goal to close the second quarter gave FSU the lead for good just seconds later.
"We had confidence that the offense would play better in the second half," linebacker Ernie Sims said. "We just made sure that we stayed behind them and made sure that we were on the same page."
FSU Runs Away Late
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