Oct. 13, 2012
By: Brandon Mellor (@BrandonMellor), Seminoles.com Managing Editor
EJ Manuel had a career night against Boston College, throwing for a career-best 439 yards with four touchdowns to become the first FSU signal-caller since Chris Weinke in 2000 to throw for at least 400 yards.
Rodney Smith and Kenny Shaw both registered at least 100 yards receiving Saturday night — the first time 2 FSU players have hit that total in the same game since last year’s Wake Forest loss (Rashad Greene and Christian Green).
EJ Manuel tossed four touchdowns against the Eagles — the second time in his career he has thrown that many in a game.
Florida State has now forced 43 three-and-outs as a defense this year.
Dustin Hopkins’ 51-yard field goal pushed him to 394 career points at the time to officially become FSU’s and the ACC’s all-time leading scorer.
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — After what happened a week ago, No. 11/12 Florida State needed this 51-7victory over Boston College Saturday night.
The Seminoles (6-1, 3-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) needed to blow out the Eagles (1-5, 0-3) in front of a home crowd of 81,075, they needed to show improvement and they needed to do whatever necessary to properly put that 17-16 loss at NC State to bed.
On a night that saw quarterback EJ Manuel set a career high for passing yardage and Dustin Hopkins break both the FSU and ACC all-time scoring records, FSU looked more like the team that raced to a 5-0 record and No. 3 national ranking to start the season than the one in Raleigh, N.C. seven days ago.
“Overall I’m very proud of our kids and our coaches doing a great job of putting that game behind them,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “They prepared them well and the kids did a tremendous job of focus and concentration and staying together.”
The Seminoles were held scoreless in the second half of that loss but had no such issues against the overmatched Eagles. With Manuel leading the charge, the ‘Noles scored at least 49 points for the fifth time this season and were never tested after jumping out to a 7-0 lead on Manuel’s 77-yard touchdown pass to Kenny Shaw less than six minutes into the ballgame.
The bomb was a sign of good things to come for FSU’s redshirt senior under center as Manuel finished with a career-best 439 yards on 27-of-34 passing with four touchdowns and two interceptions. It was the first 400-yard game by a Seminoles quarterback since Chris Weinke torched Clemson for 521 yards in 2000.
FSU wound up registering 649 total yards of offense, with 448 of those coming through the air after throwing for a combined 460 yards against NC State and USF.
“We saw what we wanted to do as far as attacking their defense during the week,” Manuel said,
“and it was with some passing plays so that’s why we came out like that.”
Shaw’s 125 yards led the way but Rodney Smith was Manuel’s favorite target as the senior receiver hauled in a career-best nine catches for 108 yards.
Kelvin Benjamin added five catches for 68 yards and running back James Wilder, Jr. had two touchdown grabs and 27 yards rushing. In his first significant action since the death of a family member, sophomore Devonta Freeman added a team-high 70 yards rushing on eight carries and starter Chris Thompson ran for 68 yards of his own. Lonnie Pryor had two short touchdown runs.
The Seminoles averaged 9.1 yards per play and eclipsed 600 yards for the fourth time this year.
“A lot of teams have goals of winning a national championship and they lose a game, some teams can’t bounce back,” Wilder, Jr. said. “We just made sure we didn’t have that taste in our mouth any more. We just came out there and had a great game and made sure we didn’t make the same mistakes.”
Defensively, FSU allowed Boston College to generate just 225 yards of offense. Eagles quarterback Chase Rettig, who came into the game second in the ACC and 11th in the nation in passing yardage per game with an average of 306.2, was held to a season-low 122 yards.
Christian Jones posted a team-high eight tackles and Lamarcus Joyner had a second-half interception. The Seminoles also had a key goal-line stand on the first drive of the game that help set the tone the rest of the evening from a morale standpoint was critical.
As for Hopkins, FSU’s senior kicker booted a 51-yard field goal as time expired in the first half that won’t soon be forgotten. He would later add two more field goals butt hat particular one turned him into the all-time leading scorer at FSU and in the ACC by huddling former ‘Nole Derek Schmidt’s 393 points and former Maryland Terrapin Nick Novak, who also had 393 career points as the league’s former leader.
“Tremendous award, tremendous job,” Fisher said about the feat.
Boston College benefitted from a Terrence Brooks personal foul penalty and a 25-yard Andre Williams run to get down to FSU’s one yard-line for a first-and-goal on the game’s opening drive. But a Bjoern Werner batted pass was followed but a trio of no-gain stops to give the Seminoles a much-needed goal-line stand.
It wasn’t Weinke to Snoop Minnis against Clemson in 2000 but starting out on the goal line would lead to a quick FSU touchdown. After Manuel’s heady play to grab a Pryor fumble in mid-air and run for a first down, he connected with Shaw for the 77-yard touchdown toss to put FSU up 7-0 early in the first quarter.
Manuel followed his long scoring throw with a 42-yard gain to Jarred Haggins on the next drive to help set up a five-yard Pryor touchdown rush to push the Seminoles’ lead to 14-0.
A 46-yard completion to Benjamin on the next ‘Noles drive set up a seven-yard toss for Wilder, Jr.’s first career touchdown catch and a 48-yard throw to Shaw on the drive after that one set up a six-yard Benjamin scoring catch for 28-0 FSU lead midway through the second quarter.
“We were able to run it and we were able to protect,” Fisher said. “Menelik [Watson] and those guys did a great job … when you can hold up and give yourself some time you can get the ball down the field.”
FSU’s shut-out bid wouldn’t last much longer after that, though. Combined with some timely Eagles play-calls and three defensive pass interference calls, Rettig orchestrated a 12-play, 87-yard drive that ended with an 18-yard Bobby Swigert touchdown reception.
On the ensuing drive, Manuel’s pass to Rashad Greene was bobbled right into the hands of Eagles defender Jim Noel, who returned it to the FSU 38 yard-line. But four plays later Lamarcus Joyner took it right back with his own interception.
“It was a great play for us,” defensive tackle Everett Dawkins said.
The takeaway put the Seminoles on their own 44 yard-line and was followed by back-to-back Manuel-to-Smith passes of 10 and 13 yards, respectively, to set up Hopkins’ record-breaking 51-yard field goal and consequent 31-7 Florida State lead at halftime.
FSU hadn’t scored on a second-half opening drive since the Savannah State game Sept. 8 but that streak ended Saturday night. The ‘Noles emerged from the break firing with a 28-yard reception by Smith on the first play and a three-yard plunge by Pryor on the eighth play of the drive to extend Florida State’s advantage to 38-7.
Hopkins then added a 26-yard field goal with 3:43 left in the third quarter to make it a 41-7 ballgame.
After Wilder, Jr. jumped Superman-style to his second scoring reception of the night with 13:06 to go in the game, Hopkins’ 38-yarder went through the uprights for the game’s final score with 6:53 on the clock.
The final outcome was the most lopsided loss for Boston College since the Eagles lost to Notre Dame, 54-7, in 1992.
Florida State now turns its attention to rival Miami. The Seminoles and Hurricanes will clash Oct. 20 at Sun Life Stadium at 8 p.m. on ABC.