It was a career day for Mavin Saunders, but his Florida State Seminoles fell just short in their comeback effort and suffered another surprising early season loss.
Saunders finished with three catches for 74 yards, both career highs, in the No.12 Seminoles’ 37-35 loss to the unranked North Carolina Tar Heels Saturday at Doak Campball Stadium in Tallahassee, Florida.
The redshirt sophomore equaled his previous career high on the Seminoles first completion of the game when quarterback Deondre Francois found him for a 26 yard gain.
The drive ultimately resulted in a missed field goal that would come back to haunt
Entering today’s game, Saunders’ career long catch was 21 yards against Louisville last season and his most yards in a game was 26 against Miami last season.
On the following drive, Francois again connected with Saunders for a 33 yard reception, the longest of his career.
The drive again resulted in another missed field goal.
The Seminoles rallied to overcome a 21-point deficit and Francois scored what appeared to be the winning touchdown on a 2-yard run with 23 seconds remaining and a 35-34 lead.
The Tar Heels scored the go-ahead field goal when Nick Weiler made a 54-yarder as time expired.
Prior to the game, Seminoles head coach Jimbo Fisher said the team would use more two tight end sets and both Saunders and Ryan Izzo benefitted on Saturday.
“You don’t see a lot of that, you don’t see a lot of two tight end sets that we run and that’s good for us because we become the different ones. Mavin [because of his] athleticism, as he learns to be a really good football player, Mavin can do anything that he wants to,” Fisher said.
Ryan Izzo had four catches for 63 yards, including a 34-yarder. His career highs before today were three catches for 41 yards against Ole Miss. The seven catches by tight ends for 137 yards are the most in a game this season.
After seeing action sparingly in the first three games of the season, Saunders saw increased minutes against USF, but remains second on the depth chart behind Izzo.
Saunders caught a 12-yard reception, his first of the season, in the No.13 ranked Seminoles’ 55-35 win over the South Florida Bulls at Raymond James Stadium last week.