Rodemaker rallies Florida State to 35-31 win at Louisville

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 16 Florida State at Louisville
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Pressed into duty on the road Friday night due to an injury, Tate Rodemaker lifted Florida State to yet another improbable victory.

This time, the Seminoles didn’t need a blocked extra point with no time left to win as they did two weeks ago against LSU. Instead, they relied on their backup quarterback to lead the way in a 35-31 come-from-behind victory over Louisville.

The sophomore came in after Jordan Travis suffered a lower left leg injury with a little more than four minutes left in the second quarter and Florida State down 21-14. All the Valdosta, Georgia native did was lead the Seminoles to three, 75-yard second-half scoring drives. The last came with 7:54 left with a sensational 2-yard catch in the end zone by Johnny Wilson that put the Seminoles (3-0, 1-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) up for good.

Rodemaker, who finished 6-for-10 passing for 109 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, said his mindset upon entering the game was to treat it like his work during the week.

“The first half I just kind of got thrown out there,” Rodemaker said. “The second half was, I just went out there and played my game. I just told myself, `This is like practice and I’d been doing it all week.’ I just transferred it over to the game.”

Florida State gained 260 of its 455 yards with Rodemaker taking the snaps. Treshaun Ward added 126 yards rushing on 10 carries for the Seminoles. Wilson finished with seven catches for 149 yards and both touchdowns from Rodemaker.

Florida State coach Mike Norvell said his team “willed” itself to the win, and that was due in large part to Rodemaker’s performance.

“That was an example of what this team is built on,” Norvell said. “It was a special night. That is one that I will remember forever. That was an incredible atmosphere. We’ll talk about that heart and that identity.”

The Cardinals (1-2, 0-2) lost despite racking up 495 yards on offense. Malik Cunningham threw for 243 yards on 21-of-34 passing with a touchdown and an interception. The fifth-year senior also added 127 yards rushing and two scores on 17 carries.

Hindering the Cardinals’ effort were three turnovers, including a second-quarter fumble by Cunningham on a botched handoff at the Seminoles 12 early in the second quarter. Louisville, which held four leads in the game, also committed 11 penalties for 81 yards.

“It’s just very hurtful and disappointing, you know, not being able to win this game,” Louisville coach Scott Satterfield said. “I felt Florida State is a good football team, but we were right there and going toe to toe and in control of the game until late.”

The Cardinals had a chance to win the game after Ryan Fitzgerald missed a 36-yard field goal with 1:44 left, but Kevin Knowles II picked off a Cunningham pass at the Florida State 38 with 37 seconds left.

TRAVIS INJURY

Friday’s game was a battle of attrition, with Travis’ injury being the most prominent injury. He left the game with just more than four minutes left in the first half after being sacked by Louisville defensive end Yaya Diaby, who had grabbed Travis by the legs on the play.

Travis walked off the field with trainers and went under the stadium. In the second half, he was on the sideline with crutches and a boot.

Before the injury, Travis, who started his college career at Louisville, had started hot, completing his first 11 passes. He finished with 157 yards, two scores and a pick on 13-of-17 passing.

Norvell said the team will evaluate Travis when the Seminoles return to Tallahassee.

BIG PICTURE

Florida State: Losing Travis for any length of time could be a big blow for the Seminoles. However, for at least Friday night, Rodemaker’s heroics were enough to lead the comeback.

Louisville: It may be hard to call the third game of the season a must-win, but given the way the Cardinals season started, Friday’s game was one they really needed. The defense that showed up in the second half of the win at Central Florida last week failed to show up when needed in the second half on Friday.

UP NEXT

Florida State returns home for a primetime game Saturday night against Boston College.

Louisville hosts South Florida next Saturday afternoon.

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.