Florida State blocks PAT, holds off Kelly’s LSU, 24-23

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NEW ORLEANS – A play as unlikely as a blocked extra point with no time remaining made Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis‘ highlight-filled performance stand up – and spared Seminoles coach Mike Norvell from having to endure an ignominious collapse.

Shyheim Brown‘s deflection of Damian Ramos’ kick sent the ball into the crossbar and gave Florida State a 24-23 victory over LSU on Sunday night that spoiled Brian Kelly‘s debut as Tigers coach.

“Obviously, there at the end, you know, we had some things that happened that we just can’t have,” said Norvell, who has Florida State off to its first 2-0 start since 2016. “But the one thing that happened on the last play is what we absolutely need.”

LSU’s improbable comeback bid came despite a slew of mistakes, including a muffed punt with 2:15 left.

Florida State’s Treshaun Ward fumbled at the LSU 1 with 1:20 to go, and Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels drove LSU for a touchdown on a 2-yard pass to Jaray Jenkins with no time left.

With LSU fans celebrating an apparent two-touchdown comeback in the final 4:07 – and Florida State fans bracing for what could have gone down as an infamous implosion – Brown’s block sent the Seminoles streaming triumphantly onto the field.

“I just had a big smile on my face and a couple of tears thinking about how much we have been through as a football team,” said Travis, who passed for 260 yards and two touchdowns. “To end the game like that is really special. The game really shouldn’t have been that close from the jump. But a win is a win.”

Travis’ scoring passes came on a 39-yard throw to Ontaria Wilson on a flea flicker and a 27-yard pass that Wilson corralled with one hand. Travis also rushed for 31 yards on a combination of designed runs and scrambles, repeatedly leaving LSU pass rushers grasping air as he spun or darted away from pressure.

“We had him dead to rights on two or three occasions and we didn’t get him on the ground,” Kelly said. “When you don’t get that kid on the ground, he makes some really good impromptu plays.”

Tens of thousands of garnet and gold-clad spectators helped sell out the Superdome and left happy after Florida State – coming off four straight losing seasons – prolonged a promising start to Norvell’s third season.

This game was arguably more meaningful to Norvell than Kelly, who was lured from Notre Dame with a decade-long, $100 million contract designed to give him time to remake LSU football in his image.

Daniels, a transfer from Arizona State, started after a tight competition in camp with Garrett Nussmeier. He completed 26 of 35 passes for 209 yards and two TDS, both to Jenkins. Daniels also rushed for 114 yards.

Another transfer, running back Noah Cain (from Penn State), scored LSU’s first TD from a yard out on fourth down late in the third quarter to make it 17-10.

Travis marched the Seminoles right back to the end zone, highlighted by a 15-yard completion to Johnny Wilson as the elusive QB jumped away from closing defenders. DJ Lundy finished the drive with a 1-yard TD run to make it 24-10 with 9:04 to go.

LSU took its only lead, at 3-0, on its first possession. But that drive stalled shortly after Garrett Dellinger, in his first game at center, snapped the ball over Daniels’ head on second and goal from the FSU 5.

FSU’s lead was 7-3 at halftime after both teams blew red-zone opportunities.

LSU’s line didn’t look ready when the ball was snapped on a field goal attempt, and Jared Varse knifed in to block Ramos’ kick.

The Seminoles couldn’t cash in on Malik Nabers first of two muffed punts, which FSU recovered on the LSU 16. Norvell kept the offense on the field on fourth and 2 from the 8, and Travis’ pass to the far corner of the end zone fell incomplete.

TAKEAWAY

Florida State: Travis’ combination of scrambling and passing ability gave LSU’s defense fits in ways that showed up more in the Seminoles’ 392 net yards than in the final score.

LSU: The offensive line remains a work in progress and at times looked like a liability. Daniels had to scramble often and was the Tigers leading rusher by 91 yards.

INJURIES

LSU: Starting defensive end Maason Smith left the game in the first quarter after his knee appeared to buckle. He’s expected to have an MRI on Monday.

EJECTED

LSU lost a second defensive end when team captain Ali Gaye was ejected for a targeting foul against Travis as the QB released a touchdown pass in the third quarter.

NEXT UP

Florida State: Visits Louisville to open its ACC slate on Sept. 16.

LSU: Hosts Southern on Saturday night.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
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MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
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ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.