TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Josh Jackson threw two touchdown passes, one early and another late, and No. 20 Virginia Tech handled 19th-ranked Florida State 24-3 in the rain Monday night to spoil coach Willie Taggart’s debut with the Seminoles.
Florida State looked dysfunctional and disorganized most of the night, including on both of Jackson’s TD passes.
Jackson connected with Eric Kumah over the middle with less than 6 minutes to play. Kumah bounded through three arm tackles and raced 49 yards for the game-sealing score. Jackson also opened the game with a 10-yard touchdown pass to Damon Hazelton in the corner of the end zone. Jackson lofted a pass that cornerback Levonta Taylor looked lost trying to defend.
Jackson completed 16 of 26 passes for 207 yards. Kumah finished with four catches for 86 yards.
The Hokies also scored on special teams, the team’s 75th blocked punt since 1987. In a fitting coincidence, former Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer, known for his “Beamerball” brand of special teams, was on hand for the game as honorary captain.
The outcome probably shouldn’t have been too surprising since the Hokies finished 9-4 in Justin Fuente’s second season and returned a number of key players, including Jackson. The Seminoles are coming off a 7-6 season and are still getting acclimated to a new coaching staff and new schemes on both sides of the ball.
Little went right for Florida State all night:
— Receiver Nyqwan Murray fumbled on the team’s opening possession, giving Virginia Tech great field position and leading to a field goal.
— Ricky Aguayo missed a 32-yard field goal early in the second quarter.
— Murray appeared to score on a 30-yard pass from Deondre Francois later in the second. Instead of challenging the call, the Seminoles hurried to the line and were flagged for a false start. FSU had to settle for a short field goal.
— Logan Tyler had his punt blocked by Chris Cunningham at the 3-yard line. Kumah scooped it up and scored, putting the Hokies up 17-3.
— Taggart went for it on fourth-and-3 at the Virginia Tech 21. Francois’ pass fell incomplete.
The Seminoles essentially provided huge assists on both of Tech’s touchdowns and cost themselves another 10 points.
Virginia Tech had a chance to seemingly put the game away with a field goal late in the third quarter, but Fuente went for it on fourth down at the 1. Steven Peoples was stopped short of the goal line, keeping it a two-score game.
FSU had a chance to cut the lead in half after Cam Akers broke loose for an 84-yard gain midway through the fourth, but Akers and fellow running back Amir Rasul botched a handoff in the backfield and wasted a scoring opportunity.
Virginia Tech: It wasn’t pretty for the Hokies, but some of the struggles were expected considering they opened the season on the road against a ranked opponent. Jackson played mistake-free football, which is always a good start.
Florida State: The Seminoles were downright dismal on offense. Francois, returning from a knee injury that cost him most of last season, completed 22 of 35 passes for 233 yards behind a shaky offensive line. He threw three interceptions, was sacked five times and pressured even more often. The Seminoles finished with five turnovers.
Retired coaches Beamer (Virginia Tech) and Bobby Bowden (Florida State) served as honorary captains for the first meeting between the two schools since 2012. The Hokies and Seminoles last played in Tallahassee in 2008.
Beamer and Bowden exchanged pleasantries on the sideline and then walked to midfield for the coin toss.
Bowden wasn’t sure he would stay for the entire game, but said he would be back after getting an open invitation from Taggart to attend practices and games.
“Let me put it like this: It is 10 miles from my house to here. I can go out my back door and that’s where the golf course is. Where do you think I’m going to be?” Bowden said. “At my age, I prefer the living room, my chair and the icebox is about 5 yards away. It is good to be here every now and then.”
Two-time All-American receiver Peter Warrick had his No. 9 jersey retired at halftime. It was the 11th number retired in program history.
Warrick was the fourth overall pick in the 2000 NFL draft. He played six NFL seasons, totaling 275 catches for 2,991 yards and 18 touchdowns.
Virginia Tech hosts William & Mary of the Football Championship Subdivision.
Florida State hosts another FCS school, Samford.