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.

WVU RB Donaldson in concussion protocol, out for Baylor game

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MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (AP) West Virginia running back CJ Donaldson is in concussion protocol and will miss next week’s home game with Baylor after he was injured in a loss to Texas, coach Neal Brown said Tuesday.

Donaldson remained on the ground after he was tackled on a short gain in the third quarter of Saturday’s 38-20 loss to the Longhorns. His helmet and shoulder pads were removed and he was carted off the field on a stretcher. After the game he was cleared to travel home with the team.

“He’s recovering,” Brown said. “There is a strict return-to-play (policy) that we have to follow here and I’m zero involved in it. All I do is ask the question. They don’t even start the return-to-play until they’re symptom free.”

Donaldson, a 240-pound freshman, leads the Mountaineers with 389 rushing yards and six touchdowns, with an average of 6.9 yards per carry.

West Virginia (2-3, 0-2 Big 12 Conference) is idle this week and hosts Baylor (3-2, 1-1) next Thursday, Oct. 13.

Taulia Tagovailoa says he visited brother, Tua, over weekend

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Maryland quarterback Taulia Tagovailoa was able to visit his brother, Tua, last weekend after the Terrapins’ game against Michigan State, he said Tuesday in his first comments to reporters since Tua left the Miami Dolphins’ game against Cincinnati last Thursday with a frightening head injury.

Taulia played in Maryland’s win over Michigan State on Saturday but was not made available to the media afterward. He said Tuesday he was able to go to Florida and spend some time with his brother, who suffered a concussion four days after taking a hit in another game but was cleared to return.

“He’s doing good, everything’s fine,” he said. “My biggest thing was just seeing him and spending as much time as I can with him. I came back Sunday night.”

Tagovailoa said he appreciates the support for his brother.

“My brother’s my heart. He’s someone I look up to, someone I talk to every day,” he said. “It was just a hard scene for me to see that.”

Tagovailoa said he was in constant contact with his mother about his brother’s situation, and he was finally able to talk to Tua on Friday night.

“I really just wanted to go there and just spend time with my family, hug them and stuff like that,” Taulia Tagovailoa said. “But he told me he’s a big fan of us, and he’d rather watch me play on Saturday. … After that phone call, I was happy and getting back to my normal routine.”

Tagovailoa indicated that his brother’s injury didn’t make him too nervous about his own health when he took the field again.

“I guess when that happens to someone like my brother, or when anything happens to one of my family members, I don’t really think of how it will be able to affect me,” he said. “I just think of: `Is he OK? How’s he doing?”‘

Although it was a short visit to Florida, he said he and Tua made the most of their chance to be together.

“I just wanted to make sure he’s healthy and stuff, which he is,” Taulia Tagovailoa said.