TALLAHASSEE – Florida State’s first 7-0 start since 1999 was inevitable from the start as the Seminoles tied a school-record with 35 first quarter points in a 49-17 rout of N.C. State, the only ACC school to top Florida State a season ago, on Saturday. The 35 first quarter points for Florida State eclipsed the number of total yards for the Wolfpack in the first 15 minutes.
“Our offense came out very sharp and I thought our first team defense played very well”, said Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher, who improved to 38-10 as head coach of the Seminoles.
Former head coach and FBS’ all-time wins leader Bobby Bowden was on hand to witness a thumping reminiscent of the glory days when Bowden was roaming the Florida State sideline. Bowden planted the spear at midfield prior to the start of the contest and gave a pregame address to a near capacity crowd of more than 80,000 on the field named after him at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Jameis Winston was solid once again for Florida State passing for 292 yards and three touchdown passes with 229 yards and all three passing scores coming in the first quarter. Winston has now gone over the 200-yard passing mark in the first half in each of Florida State’s five conference contests.
Terrence Brooks intercepted N.C. State quarterback Brandon Mitchell’s first pass of the day. It took Florida State just four plays to find the end zone as running back Karlos Williams scored from 18 yards out and from there, the rout was on.
After each recording an interception, Brooks and cornerback Ronald Darby are now tied for the team-lead with two picks on the season.
Winston threw touchdown passes to Kelvin Benjamin, Nick O’Leary and Rashad Greene in the first quarter. Devonta Freeman’s second rushing touchdown, a four-yard run with 3:06 to play in the first half extended the Florida State lead to 42-0 at the break.
Freeman finished the day with 92 yards rushing on 12 carries while Williams finished with 86 yards on the ground. Rashad Greene moved a step closer to becoming Florida State’s first 1,000-yard receiver since 2002. Greene finished the day with eight receptions for 137 yards and a score giving him 690 receiving yards on the season to go with a team-high eight touchdown receptions.
“Rashad is steady Eddie man”, said Fisher. “He’s so smooth, you don’t realize how fast he is. He’s so consistent, you don’t realize how good he is.”
Niklas Sade’s 36-yard field goal midway through the third quarter broke up the shutout for N.C. State. The scoring drive was set up after Benjamin allowed a Winston pass to slip through his hands and into the arms of N.C. State’s Dontae Johnson deep in Wolfpack territory.
Shadrach Thornton finally found the end zone for N.C. State with a 72-yard run up the left sideline in the final minute of the third quarter. Thornton added a second touchdown midway through the fourth quarter and finished the day with a game-high 173 yards rushing.
North Carolina State would outscore Florida State 17-7 in the second half, but almost all of the damage came against Florida State’s second team defense. “We played a lot of young guys”, said Fisher. “Our young guys have to be held to that same standard and they’ve got to get better.”
Florida State (7-0, 5-0 ACC) will remain home next Saturday to face a top 10 Miami team, who will also come in 7-0 after rallying to beat Wake Forest 24-21 on Saturday. The Wolfpack (3-4, 0-4 ACC) will host North Carolina at Carter-Finley Stadium.