Early swarm leads No. 3 Florida State past NC State 49-17

jgiglio@newsobserver.comOctober 26, 2013 

— There was no letdown or looking ahead for Florida State and there was no looking back for N.C. State.

The Wolfpack derailed Florida State’s national title hopes a year ago in Raleigh. The third-ranked Seminoles squashed any notion of another surprise loss early and often Saturday in a 49-17 home win over N.C. State.

The Noles scored the first five times they touched the ball and led 42-0 at the half. It was more of a statement about this year’s FSU team rather than retribution for last year’s 17-16 loss in Raleigh.

“That’s what a championship team looks like,” first-year N.C. State coach Dave Doeren said. “They played well in all phases of the game and we need to aspire to play better and play like that.”

N.C. State (3-4, 0-4 ACC) got quarterback Brandon Mitchell back from injury, but it wasn’t enough to compete with FSU (7-0, 4-0), which steamrolled through the first quarter. Freshman quarterback Jameis Winston threw all three of his touchdowns and 229 of his 292 yards in the first quarter to post the Seminoles to a 35-0 lead.

FSU’s defense picked off Mitchell’s first pass attempt since August and forced a fumble to set up the offense for scoring drives of four plays, one, seven, two and five.

“It was crazy because it seemed like as fast as we got them off the field, we had to go right back on,” FSU defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan said. “I was like, ‘Dang, Jameis, man just incomplete one pass.’

“But it was just fun when the offense is scoring like that and the defense is playing at a high level.”

It was the opposite of fun for the Wolfpack, which has dropped its first four ACC games for the second time since 1959.

“The first quarter just killed us,” senior safety Dontae Johnson said.

The Wolfpack, with 173 rushing yards and a pair of touchdowns from sophomore Shadrach Thornton, salvaged some dignity over the final three quarters, albeit mostly against FSU’s reserves.

Mitchell, who missed the previous five games with a broken bone in his left foot, finished with 128 passing yards and a pair of interceptions.

“Our defense only gave up two touchdowns after the first quarter,” said Mitchell, who completed 17 of 33 passes. “We just have to do better on offense controlling the game and not putting our defense in bad situations.”

N.C. State had hoped to catch FSU in a tricky spot in the schedule. The Noles racked up a 51-14 win over Clemson, a top-10 team, last week and have Miami, a top-10 team, at home next week. But with legendary coach Bobby Bowden back to Doak Campbell Stadium for the first time since retiring after the 2009 season, FSU put on a vintage dominant performance.

Winston turned a Terrence Brooks interception into a four-play, 65-yard touchdown drive that took 85 seconds for a 7-0 lead. The Noles needed only one play, a 39-yard touchdown pass from Winston to Kelvin Benjamin, to go up 14-0 at 11:12 in the first quarter.

By the time N.C. State picked up a first down, there was 5:15 left in the first quarter and the Noles were up 28-0.

“They’re a very good football team,” Doeren said. “We made it easier than we needed to early on.”

A fake punt in the second quarter set up FSU’s sixth touchdown, a 4-yard run by Devonta Freeman to make it 42-0 at the half.

Thornton out-scored FSU by himself in the second half with a pair of touchdown runs. He had a 72-yarder at :59 in the third quarter and a 1-yarder at 7:16 in the fourth.

It wasn’t too little, too late to make a difference against an FSU juggernaut.

Giglio: 919-829-8938

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