Photo courtesy of Florida State athletics
Florida State finally has a victory under head coach Mike Norvell.
It might not have happened if not for a quarterback change on Saturday. With FSU trailing 14-0 to Jacksonville State, Jordan Travis was inserted into the lineup for Tate Rodemaker and proceeded to lead six touchdown drives on seven possessions as the Seminoles rallied past the Gamecocks, 41-24.
In this piece, we’ll be looking at the last five quarterbacks to enter in relief for FSU and lead a comeback win prior to Travis. For one to qualify, he had to have entered the game with FSU trailing.
With that said, neither Alex Hornibrook against Louisville last season nor Xavier Lee’s effort against Alabama in 2007 will qualify. Although Hornibrook led an FSU comeback, he came in with the Seminoles in front. The same is true for EJ Manuel against South Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A Bowl. In Lee’s case, he came in with the score tied at 0-0 against the Crimson Tide in Jacksonville.
Another caveat is that the backup quarterback had to have finished the game. Cases of players like Travis against Boston College last season will be omitted. Although Travis scored a rushing touchdown to give FSU its first lead against the Eagles last season, starter James Blackman finished the contest and threw the touchdown that put the Seminoles ahead for good.
With the ground rules set, here’s a look at the most recent FSU quarterbacks to lead rallies before Saturday:
Sean Maguire vs. NC State (Nov. 14, 2015)
Against NC State in Florida State’s 2015 ACC finale, things did not start well for the Seminoles. Three first-half turnovers by starting quarterback Everett Golson helped put the Seminoles in a 17-7 hole. Sean Maguire entered for FSU and led the Seminoles to 27 unanswered points. In relief of Golson, Maguire was 18-for-28 passing for 231 yards, an interception and a pair of touchdown passes to Kermit Whitfield in the fourth quarter. Dalvin Cook added 138 yards rushing and two touchdowns in the 34-17 win for the Seminoles. Maguire would start the final three games for FSU in 2015.
Wyatt Sexton vs. Clemson (Sept. 25, 2004)
In the first ACC home game of 2004 for Florida State, the Seminoles trailed Clemson 7-3 late in the first quarter when starting quarterback Chris Rix went down with an ankle injury. FSU was forced to turn to redshirt sophomore Wyatt Sexton. FSU finished with 186 yards on the ground, but Sexton was solid in his first meaningful action. Sexton finished 17-for-26 passing for 162 yards and a 47-yard touchdown pass to Chauncey Stovall in a 41-22 win for the Seminoles. Sexton would start the next five games for FSU.
Chip Ferguson at North Carolina (Oct. 26, 1985)
For most of the day, Florida State was on upset alert against North Carolina. With starting quarterback Eric Thomas ineffective, FSU turned to true freshman Chip Ferguson. The Seminoles trailed 10-0 at halftime and 10-3 after three quarters, but Ferguson’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Hassan Jones with 9:14 left in the game drew FSU even. After a 51-yard field goal by Derek Schmidt with more than two minutes to play put the Seminoles ahead for good, Martin Mayhew sealed the 20-10 win with a 62-yard interception return for a touchdown. Ferguson finished 15-for-23 passing with 124 yards in the win.
Kirk Coker at Arizona State (Nov. 3, 1984)
In what remains one of the highest scoring games in program history, Florida State erased a 17-point deficit to top Arizona State in 1984. With Eric Thomas nursing a hip injury, Kirk Coker came in with FSU trailing by 10 in the second quarter and proceeded to lead four straight touchdown drives. Coker finished 8-for-11 passing for 203 yards and two touchdown passes to Jessie Hester. The 28-yard connection between the two early in the third quarter put the Seminoles ahead for good. The two would later hook up for a 69-yard score. Greg Allen finished with 223 yards rushing for the Seminoles in a 52-44 win.
Bob Davis at Arizona State (Oct. 30, 1983)
Before there was Kirk Coker, the Arizona State faithful met Bob Davis. With FSU trailing the Sun Devils 19-14 early in the fourth quarter, Davis replaced an injured Kelly Lowrey and led two critical touchdown drives. His 38-yard touchdown pass to Roosevelt Snipes with more than eight minutes to go gave FSU a 22-19 lead, but with time ticking away, the Seminoles were on the short end of a 26-22 score. Davis capped an 82-yard drive with the winning 10-yard touchdown pass to Jessie Hester with just six seconds remaining as FSU won a 29-26 thriller. Davis finished 8-for-12 passing for 140 yards.