Florida State downs Southern Miss 42-13 in Independence Bowl

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Photo: Kenyatta S. Ross, Photo Editor

Countless missed tackles and early penalties put Southern Miss in an early hole that led to a 42-13 loss to Florida State at Independence Stadium

The Golden Eagles struck first as a roughing the punter penalty on Florida State and a 33-yard run from Ito Smith set up quarterback Kwadra Griggs’ five-yard touchdown.  Unfortunatlely, kicker Parker Shaunfield missed the PAT, his second of the season, and from there Florida State scored 23 unanswered points to close out the first half.

Three offsides penalties by Southern Miss’s defense helped FSU’s quarterback James Blackwell find his first of three first half touchdowns.

“[Florida State] put a good rush on the quarterback,” said Head Coach Jay Hopson. “I thought what hurt us early was that first possession, defensively. We had a chance to get a stop there and we were up six but we had a couple offside penalties that gave them a first down.”

Florida State running back Cam Akers’ 71 first half rushing yards helped Blackwell find another receiver in the second quarter.

The Southern Miss offense then missed an opportunity as wide receiver Quez Watkins dropped a potential 38-yard pass.  The Golden Eagles continued to hurt itself when Smith fumbled inside it’s 25-yard line which led to Florida State’s 23-6 halftime score.

The Seminoles continued to bring pressure on Southern Miss as they added a field goal and a touchdown by running back Jacques Patrick to put them up, 33-6.

A trick pass play by wide receiver Allenzae Staggers helped set up Griggs’ passing touchdown to wide receiver Korey Robertson in the second half cutting the lead to 33-13.

Florida state capped the day with Blackman throwing his fourth touchdown pass, setting the bowl record in touchdown passes, to close out Florida State’s win.

“Give [Florida State] credit, they deserve the win but I thought we fought hard, just a tough loss,” Hopson said.

Griggs finished 13-for-25 throwing 86 yards and a touchdown, ran for another 36 yards and a touchdown and Smith finished his last career game with 190 all-purpose yards.

Despite the loss, the Golden Eagles still improved from last year’s 7-6 record to finish 8-5 overall.

“I’m blessed to be the head coach here,” Hopson said. “We have a bunch of outstanding young men. I just love the way we continue to fight.  I just love the spirit of our coaches and the spirit of our players Its part of the journey and its part of the process but I’m proud of our players and I’m proud of our seniors.  “