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.

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.