After the total heartbreak last week against Clemson, the season comes down to these final three weeks. After today’s game, it’s on to play at Florida next Saturday and then a final home game that was originally canceled against ULM. It has been rescheduled for December 2nd. Today is Homecoming as well as Senior Day.
We all anticipated a blowout, and that is what we saw. With FSU running out to a 56-6 halftime lead, it was time to call off the dogs. With a mutual decision by both teams, the 3rd and 4th quarters were shortened to 10 minutes per period.
This was the type of game that FSU needed, as they have played #1 Alabama and then a straight conference schedule after the disruption of the season due to the hurricane back in September.
In reality, the bulk of their starters got a well-needed rest and many young players, as well as walk-ons, got much-needed reps. This could bode well heading into next week’s matchup with the Gators. All told the Noles top two running backs only had 12 carries between them.
What this game produced was a couple of feel-good stories.
Saturday was a very special day for Florida State walk-on Justin Motlow. He had waited four years for an opportunity, and it finally came in the fourth quarter. He ran a nice sharp flag route into the end zone, turned and looked, and the ball was on its way. The redshirt junior dove for the pass from junior QB JJ Cosentino and pulled it in for a 12-yard touchdown. This was in the fourth quarter, of what was a blowout, in Saturday’s 77-6 win over Delaware State. That did not matter as history was being made.
You see, Motlow is the first member of the Seminole Tribe of Florida to play for the Seminoles. On Saturday, the former star from Tampa Catholic recorded his first reception. He finished with three catches for 25 yards.
“That is just the most amazing honor you could ever feel,” Motlow said. “I am so proud to represent my tribe. The first member to score a touchdown, let alone just play, it’s an exhilarating feeling. It makes me so happy.” Motlow feels that he has set an example for the young men in the tribe. He may be leaving with a lifetime of memories, as he recalls such a special afternoon inside Doak Campbell Stadium. ** See note below**
The football that he caught is going in a special place. “It means a lot to me,” Motlow said. “The gloves, the ball, all of it.” “When I came out of my break, time just stood still,” Motlow said. “I saw the ball in the air, and I just knew this was my big opportunity, and I knew I wasn’t going to drop it for anything. Made the play and that was the most excited I’ve ever been.” Moreover, then Motlow saw his teammates as excited as they have been all season. The FSU sideline erupted in celebration, swarming Motlow with high-fives and hugs.
His former teammate from Tampa Catholic, OL Corey Martinez, ran to the end-zone to lift him in celebration!”The entire team I feel like was psyched,” Motlow said. “Four years of hard work and it seems like it all paid off in that big moment.” It is always the scholarship players who get their chance each Saturday. Here is a red-shirt junior walk-on, who, as a four-year player never had that feeling. It had to be just incredible for him to finally be able to realize the feeling of a touchdown catch. To be on Senior Day as well as Homecoming as just an exclamation point.
“Motlow is one of the guys, he’s always happy,” cornerback Tarvarus McFadden said. “You’ll never catch Motlow down. So when you see Motlow make a play like that and everybody know what Motlow is capable of, it just means a lot to the team.” **A note here is that some reports had him as a senior, but according to the 2017 FSU Media Guide as well as the game day roster, it shows him as a redshirt junior**
Senior tailback Ryan Green said that Motlow made plenty of catches in practice through the years. “It’s just a thing with opportunity,” Green said. “Everybody on our team can play.” This was a great day for Green as well, as he is one who has persevered. He made it memorable. Green came to Tallahassee as a 4 Star out of St. Petersburg Catholic. He was a member of the 2013 National Championship team as a true freshman.
Injuries as well as a couple of well-known running backs, Devonta Freeman and Dalvin Cook pretty much limited his chances. He did excel on special teams and was the 4th leading rusher on the 2013 team with 33 carries for 163 yards. So today, on Senior Day he finally had a chance to get some action. He responded with 9 carries for 96 yards and 2 TDs. His 1st TD run was for 5 yards, but the icing on the cake was the final score of the game where he ripped off a 50-yard run.
As I said, a feel-good story for one of the guys that stuck with the program!
Heading into the game next week at Florida, if my research is correct, this is the 1sttime FSU has entered this game, near the close of the season, with a losing record. Early in the series, the game was played earlier in the season. Also, of note, FSU and Florida have never faced each other with both teams having losing records past the mid-point of the season. This game has been scheduled to finish the regular season since Bobby Bowden’s 2nd season which was 1977. Only three times since that 77 season has one of the teams come into the game with a losing record.
All three times it has been a Florida team. The 1978 team (Doug Dickey’s last year) ended at 4-7 after losing 38-21 to FSU. Charley Pell took over for the 1979 season and ended the year with a 27-16 loss in Gainesville. The Gators ended the season at 0-10-1 and FSU completed the season at 11-0. The 2013 Gators, with Will Muschamp in control, finished the season at 4-8 after a season-ending loss to FSU, 37-7 in Gainesville.
As a reminder, the last time FSU had a losing season was in 1976. The last time they did not play in a bowl game, 1981! This game really means something to them, and they have everything to play for!