TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Cam Akers was ready and willing to carry the load and Florida State needed every ounce of energy in what was a workhorse performance.
Akers had a program-record 36 carries, the final one a 4-yard touchdown, as Florida State defeated Louisiana Monroe 45-44 in overtime on Saturday.
A junior tailback, Akers ran for 193 yards and scored two rushing touchdowns. He also had a 44-yard TD reception for Florida State (1-1).
“Whatever I got to do to help this team win,” Akers said. “Forty, 50, 60 (carries). You got to be quick on your feet, react. And make the most of it.”
The Seminoles were desperate for Akers’ performance on a night in which they were surprisingly on the ropes against ULM, a 21-point underdog.
Caleb Evans had a 5-yard touchdown run just moments after Akers final score and the Warhawks went for the one-point conversion that would force a second overtime period, but Jacob Meeks missed the kick, setting off a celebration on the Seminoles’ sideline and in the stands
Well, not every Florida State player was celebrating.
“I didn’t get too excited,” Akers said. “It was ugly.”
ULM (1-1) had four touchdowns and a field goal on its final six opportunities in regulation to force overtime. Meeks’ 24-yard field-goal attempt with 1:30 left tied the game at 38.
Evans completed 23 of 38 passes for 241 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Johnson ran 26 times for 126 yards and a touchdown.
“They really, at the end, made one more play than we did,” ULM coach Matt Viator said. “I told the players the goal was to battle, get to the second half and the fourth quarter and have a chance to win the game and we did. We just came up a point short.”
Florida State played sloppy in the second half of a season-opening 36-31 loss to Boise State and the mistakes added up again vs. ULM. The Seminoles committed three turnovers and were penalized 11 times for 108 yards.
“When you turn the ball over bad things happen,” Taggart said. “When you have 11 penalties, bad things happen. I felt that was a big reason why we were in the situation.”
James Blackman completed 30 of 40 passes for 282 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions for the Seminoles. He connected with nine receivers, throwing touchdowns to D.J. Matthews, Tre’Shaun Harrison and Akers.
But Blackman’s mistakes were costly. The redshirt sophomore quarterback and receiver Tamorrion Terry miscommunicated on a third-quarter pass play as ULM’s Corey Straughter jumped in front of a pass and ran 57 yards for a touchdown as the Warhawks cut the FSU lead to 24-14.
The Seminoles’ offense was rolling early. Blackman had a pair of first-half touchdown passes as Florida State had scored on its first three drives and led 24-7 at the half.
Florida State was 10 of 19 on third-down conversions after converting on just 1 of 12 in the opener vs. Boise State. But the Seminoles needed Akers to rescue them in the second half and overtime.
Akers became the 16th Florida State back to eclipse 2,000 career rushing yards and has 2,039. On Saturday, he had his seventh career 100-yard game and was six yards shy of a career-high, which was 199 yards in a victory over Syracuse in 2017.
“He’s a guy that’s going to do everything it takes to help this football team win,” Taggart said. “No matter what. That’s what we saw in his gutsy performance tonight and we got to keep feeding him.”
JUST ENOUGH OFFENSE
Florida State lost starting left tackle Jauan Williams in the first quarter. Williams sprained his ankle, Taggart said. Despite the loss of Williams, the Seminoles were still able to accumulate 501 offensive yards and the 45-point output was the most in Taggart’s 14 games in Tallahassee.
ULM: The Warhawks made adjustments, accumulated 419 offensive yards and had Florida State on the ropes until the missed kick in overtime.
Florida State: The Seminoles escaped with a victory in a game where the school paid ULM $1.65 million to make the trip to Tallahassee.
ULM: at Iowa State on Sept. 21.
Florida State: at Virginia on Saturday.