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Former Cardinal Newman star Rudolph leads Seminoles’ victory

Travis Rudolph has had some big games before at Florida State. But none that were quite like Saturday’s 17-6 win over Wake Forest.

The former Cardinal Newman star set career highs in receptions (13) and receiving yards (238) against the Demon Deacons. And while he didn’t score a touchdowns, Rudolph helped FSU move the ball down the field and had a part in every FSU scoring drive.

Rudolph’s 238 yards were the most by an FSU receiver since Peter Warrick had 249 against Clemson in 1997. The school record is held by Ron Sellers, who had 260 vs. Wake Forest in 1968. If it weren’t for FSU running the ball late to finish off the game, Rudolph could have had a chance at the record.

“He was just running great routes, getting open,” FSU quarterback Deondre Francois said. “Had a lot of energy today like he does every Saturday. It was just his day.”

Rudolph hasn’t had the production as a junior that he would have liked. Through six games, he had just 19 receptions for 259 yards and three touchdowns — a far cry from the output that was expected after Rudolph had 916 receiving yards and seven touchdowns in 2015.

But Rudolph stayed focused and kept plugging away. While Francois was often connecting with FSU’s other receivers, Rudolph was still showing that he was a willing blocker for teammates, including star tailback Dalvin Cook.

“I feel like as a receiver you have to be good with and without the ball,” Rudolph said. “I felt like I was making some great blocks even when I wasn’t getting the ball. Really being an all-around receiver.”

Coach Jimbo Fisher said this week that he wanted to get the ball more to Rudolph. And Rudolph’s number was called often Saturday. He had just one catch for 33 yards in the first quarter but then broke free for five receptions and 130 yards in the second quarter.

On the final play of the first half, Francois tossed a Hail Mary that was just a few yards short of the end zone. The ball popped up into the air and was grabbed by Rudolph, who made a move but was brought down on Wake’s 1-yard line.

“It was really disappointing,” Rudolph said. “I really wanted to score.”

Rudolph had four catches in the third quarter and three in the fourth quarter.

By the end of the game, Rudolph had 238 yards — the fourth-best all-time by an FSU receiver. His 13 receptions ties for the fifth-best in school history. And he nearly matched his six-game yardage total in 60 minutes Saturday.

Rudolph has had games where he blends in as part of the offense. And then he’s had a few where he has stood out. Rudolph lit up Syracuse (191 yards) and Houston (201 yards) in 2015, and he had a 105-yard receiving game against Charleston Southern.

“I can do that every week,” Rudolph said. “When my number is called, make the best of it.

“I feel like that is how some games go. Some games Dalvin has a career high, some games I can have a career high. It depends on the defense. I feel like all the time I can have those games.”

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