While Southern Miss struggled on the bowl stage, Florida State freshman running back Cam Akers gave folks back home in the Magnolia State a record-breaking performance worth watching.
The Clinton native ran 13 times for 94 yards and caught one pass for a 14-yard touchdown as FSU thumped USM 42-13 in the Independence Bowl Wednesday afternoon.
Akers entered the game needing 79 yards to pass Dalvin Cook for the most rushing yardage by a freshman in Florida State history. Cook ran for 1,008 in 2014 and Akers finished with 195 carries for 1,025 yards.
Akers set the mark with family members looking on at Independence Stadium.
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“To be able to do it in front of my family and a lot of people I went to school with – the home crowd – I loved it,” Akers said. “What better time to do it than now? I thank God for the opportunity.”
The 5-foot-11, 213-pound running back often ran through arm tackles flashed breakaway speed.
One of the few plays where the USM defense got in the resulted in a 32-yard gainer for Akers. He made a sudden stop, reversed direction and dashed down field. He was well on his way to the end, but he lost his balance at the USM 16.
Wednesday’s game marked the first time that Akers was allowed to speak with the media this season due to an FSU rule that prevents freshmen from speaking with reporters.
He handled the moment with ease.
“It’s truly a blessing just to be able to be in this position,” Akers said. “I have to give credit to my offensive line. I give a lot of credit to the coaches and my teammates for pushing me throughout this season. It’s a great accomplishment and it’s a great blessing.”
Akers earned the first scoring reception of his career when he pulled in a James Blackman pass and ran 14 yards untouched to the end zone. USM failed to cover the running back out of the backfield on the play.
The speedy back gave a shout out to “The Sip” for the cameras after crossing the goal line.
“I just tried to play to the best of my ability,” Akers said. “I can’t worry about what anybody else is doing. I’ve got goals for myself and goals for the team that we’re trying to accomplish. That’s all I can focus on, that and playing football.”
With junior Jacques Patrick pitching in 16 carries for 61 yards and a touchdown, FSU had little problem running the ball against the Golden Eagles. FSU had a total of 45 carries for 214 yards.
Patrick, who is listed at 6-foot-3, 234 pounds, and Akers give FSU a powerful duo in the backfield.
“That’s my big brother, and he kind of showed me the ropes,” Akers said of Patrick. “Every practice, I look at what he does. I try to watch the way he watches film. I look up to him like a big brother. It’s more than football. I love him.”