Football State University: A Recap of the 2022 Football Season
The loudest sound I have ever heard was the emphatic screams of 80,000 strong as the opening kickoff was returned for a touchdown. Seconds into the game against Boston College, Trey Benson ran the entire length of the football field for our first score. The closer he got, the louder the stadium grew until I could hardly stay upright from the mass chaos that ensued. Beer rained down from above, fans screamed until their voices grew hoarse, and my hand throbbed from so many high-fives. In many ways, this moment encapsulates what it was to experience Florida State football this season. Our passionate student section and unpredictably talented players gave FSU its best season in recent memory and gave me some of the wildest experiences I have had yet since arriving on campus.
One thing I learned quickly was that our student body is passionate and a little crazy. The first home game against Duquesne sold out, despite rain forecasted for the entire night. With a two hour rain delay, the student section remained packed until kickoff, even when it was probably safer to be inside anywhere else. I remember looking around as the student section booed a graphic on the scoreboard that said the game would be further delayed because of lightning in the area. Just then, a massive bolt of lightning crackled through the sky. Standing on wet metal bleachers under a wide open sky, the student section erupted into cheers. It maintained this level of energy for the whole game.
There were many other instances where the students showed their loyalty. Each opponent was affectionately booed the second they ran onto the field. A passing interference call or unnecessary roughness penalty on our opponent would be followed with cheers of “You can’t do that!” Sometimes, not even our own players were safe, as our kicker Ryan Fitzgerald can attest. The poor guy missed an extra point and a field goal and he was never forgiven.
At times, this loyalty was tested. There were games we should have won. Wake Forest and NC State showed us how a collapse on defense or misjudged pass was enough to mean the game for us. NC State was especially heartbreaking, as our quarterback Jordan Travis threw an interception on the last play of the game that could have been a winning touchdown. Fortunately, we regained our momentum after a close loss to Clemson, and won out the rest of the season.
I was fortunate to be able to go to every home game this season right in the thick of the student section. Here, I experienced something memorable with every quarter. Against Georgia Tech, we witnessed one of their players puke on the field. Somehow, this wasn’t the most sickening part of that game. That honor goes to the trick play we attempted at the one yard line that resulted in a fumble return where our quarterback had to make the defensive tackle to prevent a score. Against Louisisna, we befriended their kicker and asked him to transfer here. At the game's conclusion he came over and handed his gloves to my friend, high-fived us all, and thanked us for the unexpected support.
It was especially satisfying to beat all of our main rivals. When the team traveled to Miami to play the Hurricanes, our team handed them a resounding 45-3 loss and we enjoyed every second of it. Some called for head coach Mike Norvell to be appointed as a state official for storm evacuations because of the way he evacuated the entire stadium of Hurricane fans (the game was sold out but the stadium was nearly empty by the end because of how handily we beat them).
Most importantly, we beat our greatest rival, UF, for the first time in four years. After a hard fought game that was a nail biter until the last minute, our defense held off the Gators on fourth down, and the student section rushed the field. As one of the first ones down there, I looked around and saw the force of 80,000 people cheering and pouring down from the stands. As our players danced around the center of the field with a gator head pierced on a stick, we slapped them on the shoulder pads as they wove their way through the crowd and into the locker room. In many ways, it was the perfect ending to an unexpectedly successful season. The full force of the Florida State faithful, just a day after Thanksgiving, celebrated alongside the team we rooted so hard for all year. It’s only been a week since the season ended, but I can’t wait for football to start again. Although, maybe next season we can avoid a rain delay and potential lightning strike?
Writer: Peyton Burton
Artist: Solymar Estrella