Seminoles linebacker has serious knee injury

Published September 24, 2006

TALLAHASSEE - Florida State's victory Saturday against Rice came with a potentially big price.

Linebacker Marcus Ball, who got his first career interception early in the second quarter and returned it 54 yards to set up a field goal, injured his left knee in the second half on kickoff coverage and was taken from the field on a cart.

"I just heard it was bad. It could be a season loss," coach Bobby Bowden said after the 55-7 win.

Ball, a 6-foot, 204-pound freshman from Stone Mountain, Ga., has been a key reserve all season and a mainstay on passing downs. He entered the game with 11 tackles, fifth on the team, and two pass break-ups. He was unofficially credited with two tackles Saturday.

"It definitely is (a big loss)," junior nose guard Andre Fluellen said. "Even as a freshman, he's already a leader on the field. It's tough to see him go down because he's such a team player and he gets everybody pumped up. I hate to see it happen, but he's just got to get on the road to recovery."

A SCARE: The defense held its breath when standout cornerback Tony Carter took a helmet to his left knee on a punt return in the first half and didn't return.

"It shouldn't be anything too serious, just a bad bruise," he said.

NICE DEBUT: Heralded freshman safety Myron Rolle started for the first time with former Tarpon Springs star Anthony Houllis out with a knee injury. He merely had a team-high eight tackles and broke up one pass.

"I felt pretty good," he said. "I had a lot of help out there. Guys made the transition a little easier for me. (Safety) Roger Williams helped me out a lot with some calls and some signals. I just feel more comfortable every time I get out there."

SCORE ONE FOR CAZ: Freshman tight end Caz Piurowski, the former Land O'Lakes standout, not only had a catch for a career-best 13 yards, he picked up a blocked extra point and ran it in for two points to close the scoring.

RETURN BY COMMITTEE: FSU used four players on punt returns with Chris Davis, Carter (one for 19), Preston Parker (one for 10) and Patrick Robinson getting a shot.

ONE FOR THE BOOK: Gary Cismesia hit a career-long 53-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, which tied him for the fourth longest in school history with Sebastian Janikowski (vs. Clemson, 1998), Derek Schmidt (vs. Florida, 1987 and vs. Louisville, 1986) and Grant Guthrie (vs. Miami, 1969).

With his 11 points, Cismesia has 146 to move ahead of Andre Cooper and Dayne Williams (144) into 16th in FSU history. He should have had 12 points, but shortly after his long field goal, he missed an extra point, hitting the left upright.

YOUNG ONES: Defensive tackle Budd Thacker, guard Matt Hardrick, linebacker Ricardo Wright and defensive end Kevin McNeil played, meaning the Seminoles have played 15 true freshmen. McNeil, who signed in February but wasn't cleared by the NCAA until last week and returned to practice Monday, had two tackles and forced a fumble.

"It was hard. That was my first job," he said of having to work to support himself before hearing the good news from the NCAA. "I was working here at the stadium, helping paint the field and taking care of the soccer field and baseball field."