November 23, 2013

Seniors provide fitting spark in big win

Kenny Shaw was especially raw in his last game at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The senior wide receiver was one of a number of seniors on Florida State's roster to make an impact on senior day as FSU (11-0) routed Idaho - putting an emotional cherry on top of an 80-14 win that was more than expected even from FSU's dominant season so far.

Shaw, FSU's slot receiver, had spent the season flirting with a 100-yard game. Six times this season, Shaw has had between 89 and 99 yards. On Saturday, he finally crossed into triple digits on FSU's final offensive play before halftime.

With four seconds left, Jameis Winston found Shaw for a 20-yard touchdown, giving Shaw his first 100-yard game and his first multi-touchdown game of the season. On his way out of the post-game interviews, Winston walked up to Shaw and said "told you I was going to get you to 100." Shaw said he didn't know he broke 100 yards until after the game.

"Honestly, it didn't even feel like I broke the 100 mark," Shaw said. "It feels good now, just to get over the hump."

Shaw wasn't the only one who came up big in FSU's win. Florida State's entire senior class put on a show.

Telvin Smith opened things up for the Seminole seniors when he returned an Idaho pass 79 yards for a score, out-sprinting most of the Idaho offense to the end zone. It was Smiths' second pick-six this season, but he said Saturday's carried extra meaning.

"I've been praying for it all week," Smith said. "I've been praying for three but he only blessed me with one. It was just a tremendous feeling to start it off after they had a long drive down the field, and for me to end it like that, it's just a blessing."

Smith's interception was followed a few minutes later by redshirt senior Jacobbi McDaniel, who got his hands on a tipped ball at the start of the second quarter for an interception. A pass by Idaho quarterback Taylor Davis was tipped at the line of scrimmage, batted around and fell into McDaniels' hands.

Smith also gave an emotional pregame speech that teammates had an impact.

"I just told them, don't worry about the seniors," Smith said. "Don't worry about nobody like that. It's about this team. Don't let it be about us, it's about this team. Because without this team and these guys, none of this would be possible."

And with an ongoing media whirlwind surrounding the sexual assault case involving Winston, the heavily favored pre-game spread and the always-present speculation about playing for a national title, teammates said seniors like Smith have been instrumental in keeping the team composed. Saturday was the crowning achievement short of postseason accolades: FSU finished undefeated at home for the first time since 2000.

"Our seniors are phenomenal people," Winston said. "It's crazy how we can just look at those guys and see how to carry ourselves and lead the right way. You look at guys like Telvin, Joyner, Byran Stork. Those guys deserve so much."

Shaw said FSU's seniors have made an effort to block out distractions this season - especially after witnessing their share of off-the-field issues in previous years.

"We've been through this years in and years out," Shaw said. "Every championship team goes through it. We just try to stay upbeat, stay on the same schedule and act like everything's normal."

  • Florida State's 80 points in the win set a new school record for points in a game. The previous record was 77 against N.C. State in 1995. FSU also has 607 points this season, which is a new ACC record. It also marks FSU's 11th straight game with 40 or more points, tying Texas's record of 11 from 2005.

  • Roberto Aguayo set a new national record with 80 PATs made. Aquayo is a perfect 80-for-80 this season on PATs and was 11-11 on Saturday. He's also third on the ACC single-season kick scoring list. Former FSU kicker Dustin Hopkins holds the record with 140 points. Aguayo has 124.

  • Timmy Jernigan had a career-high 2.5 sacks on Saturday. He also led FSU with 6 tackles and 4.5 tackles for loss - while only playing in the first half.

  • With three new players recording interceptions on Saturday, FSU now has 16 defensive players with at least one interception. EJ Levbenberry capped off the defensive showcase with a pick-six to set the scoring record in the second half. Levenberry also provided the eighth defensive touchdown this year, a new school record.

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