The Daily Nole

Sunday Centerpiece: FSU Football’s Top 10 Moments of 2019

Mike Erdelyi/FSU athletics

It was a tumultuous season for Florida State on the gridiron in 2019. Although FSU started a new bowl streak after a 5-7 campaign in 2018, the Seminoles finished just 6-7 this season to mark back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the mid-1970s.

The 2019 season saw the midseason firing of second-year head coach Willie Taggart, a fifth straight loss to reigning national champion Clemson, a third straight loss to rival Miami, a second straight loss to arch-rival Florida and several big leads go by the wayside. For all the bad however, there was some good.

With 2020 here and a new era under head coach Mike Norvell underway, we look back on the 10 best moments from this past season:

10. Bowl-Eligible for Senior Day
Alabama State 12, FSU 49
Nov. 16, 2019

With just 28 victories, Florida State’s senior class won fewer games than any class since the 1975 group of incoming Seminoles notched 26 wins over four years, but in their final contest at Doak Campbell Stadium, they did create a new bowl streak. FSU became bowl-eligible with a 49-12 win over Alabama State on Senior Day. The Seminoles put up 520 yards of offense. Khalan Laborn rushed for a pair of scores while quarterback James Blackman passed for three touchdowns.

9. Gainer’s Goal Line Strip Seals Win Over Wolfpack
NC State 13, FSU 31
Sept. 28, 2019

One of Florida State’s most complete performances of 2019 was capped with an outstanding defensive effort. With FSU up 31-13 and the contest already decided against NC State on the final Saturday in September, it appeared that the Wolfpack were going to score a garbage-time touchdown. Linebacker Amari Gainer made sure that didn’t happen. With less than two minutes to play, NC State quarterback Devin Leary hit Max Fisher for what looked to be an easy NC State touchdown, but Gainer didn’t quit on the play. With great hustle, Gainer was able to jar the ball loose before Fisher reached the goal line and linebacker Emmett Rice recovered the fumble to seal the contest. The 13 points allowed would be the fewest for FSU in 2019 against FBS competition.

Emmett Rice recovered a late fumble after an Amari Gainer strip to keep NC State off the scoreboard in a 31-13 FSU victory on Sept. 28, 2019. (Susan Erdelyi/FSU athletics)

8. Fagan’s Red Zone Pick Sparks Comeback
Louisville 24, FSU 35
Sept. 21, 2019

After letting a 21-point lead slip away, Florida State was in danger of getting run out of its own building against Louisville. The Cardinals had scored 24 straight points as they marched inside the FSU 30-yard-line with less than 10 minutes to play. Facing a 3rd-and-6, Louisville quarterback Micale Cunningham fired toward the middle of the field where safety Cyrus Fagan stepped in front of the pass for a critical interception. It was the first pick of Fagan’s career and it gave FSU new life. The Seminoles would score the game’s final 14 points for their first ACC victory.

7. Akers Ties FSU Rushing TD Record
Syracuse 17, FSU 35
Oct. 26, 2019

Despite poor offensive line play, junior running back Cam Akers enjoyed one of the best rushing seasons ever for an FSU player. His best day came on the final Saturday in October as Akers tied an FSU record with four rushing touchdowns. Akers tallied 144 yards rushing, 26 yards passing and one yard receiving while scoring on runs of 23, three, six and seven yards. Akers would also add a 2-point conversion for the second-best individual scoring day in program history.

6. Nasirildeen Records 22 Tackles
FSU 38, Boston College 31
Nov. 9, 2019

In what would serve as Florida State’s only road victory of the year, Hamsah Nasirildeen was all over the place. In a 38-31 victory at Boston College in the final ACC game of the season, Nasirildeen tallied 22 tackles, including 11 solo stops. The 22 tackles was the most for an FSU player since Dale McCullers in 1968. Nasirildeen would go on to become the first FSU player to record 100 tackles in a season since Reggie Northrup in 2014.

5. A Sun Bowl Record
FSU 14, Arizona State 20
Dec. 31, 2019 (Sun Bowl)

Tuesday’s Sun Bowl was a disappointing showing for Florida State, but the Seminoles did briefly rally from two scores down to take the lead. They did so on a record-setting play. Down 9-7 late in the third quarter and backed up to his own 9-yard-line, quarterback James Blackman went deep down the right sideline. Blackman hit a streaking Tamorrion Terry in stride. Terry outran defenders on his way to a 91-yard touchdown. That gave FSU a 14-9 lead and served as the longest play in the 76-year history of the Sun Bowl.

4. Nasirildeen’s Pick-6
Alabama State 12, FSU 49
Nov. 16, 2019

During the 2019 season, junior safety Hamsah Nasirildeen ended a lot of defensive droughts for Florida State. Against Alabama State in the final home game, Nasirildeen scored FSU’s only defensive touchdown of the season and first since Week 2 of 2018. With FSU up 28-12 late in the third quarter, Nasirildeen made a nice catch on an interception of Alabama State’s KHA’Darris Davis. After that, Nasirildeen put on some nice moves on his way to an 80-yard touchdown. That served as the longest defensive touchdown for the Seminoles since linebacker Terrance Smith returned an interception 94 yards against Florida in 2014.

3. Travis Shines in Debut
FSU 38, Boston College 31
Nov. 9, 2019

Through nine games, redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Travis did not see the field. In the ACC finale against Boston College, that changed and Florida State was happy it did. On his first play on the season, Travis scored on a 26-yard scramble early in the third quarter to give FSU its first lead. With the Seminoles up 31-24 and facing a critical 3rd-and-9 with over a minute to play, Travis put the game away with a 66-yard touchdown run — the longest ever for an FSU quarterback. Travis finished his FSU debut with 94 yards rushing on just three carries.

2. Terry Gives FSU Lead on Busted Coverage
Louisville 24, FSU 35
Sept. 21, 2019

Florida State had watched a 21-0 lead evaporate against Louisville in its first ACC home game of the year, but a busted coverage for the Cardinals would turn the tide of the contest. With FSU trailing 24-21 midway through the final quarter and the ball on its own 40-yard-line, Louisville somehow did not account for wide receiver Tamorrion Terry. As backup quarterback Alex Hornibrook took the snap, he lobbed the ball to Terry who outraced defenders on his way to an easy 60-yard touchdown. The score put FSU ahead for good as the Seminoles went on to collect their first ACC win of 2019.

1. Blackman Finds Matthews for the Game-Winner
FSU 38, Boston College 31
Nov. 9, 2019

A potential bowl bid hung in the balance as the fourth-quarter clocked ticked under two minutes in Florida State’s ACC finale at Boston College. The Eagles had erased a 10-point deficit in the final quarter as the contest was knotted 24-24. After a nice kick return from Isaiah Bolden, the Seminoles faced 2nd-and-11 from their own 40-yard-line when quarterback James Blackman hit D.J. Matthews on a slant. Matthews was able to outrun and weave through defenders before diving from near the 5-yard-line and touching the pylon for the 60-yard go-ahead touchdown. The score would serve as the game-winner as the Seminoles sealed the victory with a Stanford Samuels III interception and a long Jordan Travis touchdown run.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at

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