It’s all about the experience.
For Jimbo Fisher’s young Florida State football team, grinding out a tough conference victory like the one they achieved in Saturday’s 24-19 win at home over Boston College is just another way to gain the knowledge and know-how needed to compete for championships.
The Seminoles (6-1, 4-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) didn’t steamroll the Eagles (2-4, 03) quite like many thought they would after dominating rival Miami.
Instead, FSU trailed early and then again late against Boston College and had to dip into the bag of tricks for what would prove to be the winning score: a 42-yard end-around to junior wide receiver Bert Reed.
And at game’s end – after quarterback Christian Ponder took one last knee to drain the clock – the ’Noles emerged victorious against a Boston College team that had won two straight in the series and had been a thorn in the collective side of FSU the last several years.
"We have not arrived," said Fisher, whose team has now experienced a big loss (see Oklahoma), a big win (see that Hurricane dismantling) and now a get-it-done-any-way-possible type of win. "We have a long way to go but I saw a football team today that stayed together and never gave up. Great seasons are made on games that you have to scratch and claw to win."
With the triumph, Florida State is now off to its best start to ACC play since 2004 and is enjoying its first five-game winning streak since 2005.
Quarterback Christian Ponder didn’t have his best day against a disciplined Boston College defense. FSU’s redshirt senior signal caller finished the contest with 170 yards and two touchdowns but also had three interceptions and a fumble.
"You measure players on their bad days," Fisher said about Ponder. "The ones that find the ways to win and do what it takes to still be successful are the special ones and that’s what he is."
The Eagles jammed the box and limited the high-powered Seminole rushing attack to just 141 yards. Starting tailback Jermaine Thomas led the team with 44 yards on five carries.
In the passing game, wide receiver Rodney Smith led the pass-catchers with a career-high six grabs for 49 yards. In addition to his 42 yard scoring scamper, Reed caught four passes for 35 yards and Taiwan Easterling caught three balls for 42 yards.
Defensively, the Seminoles got gashed early by Boston College’s Montel Harris but made the appropriate adjustments to limit his damages. Harris, who has always performed well against Florida State, had 26 rushes for 191 yards – the most by any opposing running back all season.
Most importantly, however, was the fact that nearly all of those 191 yards occurred in the first quarter as the Seminole defenders made the necessary adjustments and corralled him the rest of the game.
FSU held Boston College to just a meager 95 yards passing.
Florida State found itself in an unfamiliar place to start the ballgame because of some unfamiliar play on defense. The Seminoles allowed Harris to generate nearly 150 rushing yards on just nine carries and Boston College built a 6-0 lead on back-to-back field goals.
The early deficit marked the first time since the Oklahoma game that FSU trailed on the scoreboard.
Fortunately for the ’Noles, Smith had a trick up his sleeve and FSU quickly dissolved that deficit. FSU’s lanky 6-foot-6 wide receiver grabbed a pass while lying on his back after multiple BC defenders bobbled it. The reception was only good for seven yards but it ignited the crowd and the offense and Thomas dashed to a 23-yard gain on the very next play.
Two snaps later, Pryor plowed his way over the goal line for a three-yard score and a 7-6 Seminoles’ lead before the first quarter ended.
It looked as though that 7-6 score might be the only points of the opening half. But Ponder’s passing game changed that. FSU methodically moved down the field and after starting at their own four yard-line, Reliford grabbed a quick 10-yard scoring pass from Ponder to make it 14-6.
On the season-long 96-yard drive, Easterling, Reed and freshman Greg Dent all caught passes. For Dent, his 12-yard grab was the first of his career and Reliford’s touchdown meant he became the 12th FSU player to register a score this season.
After both teams emerged from the locker room, Boston College promptly cut into the FSU lead with a 28-yard field goal on the heels of a Ponder interception.
The Seminoles got the three points back less than 10 minutes later thanks to a 26-yard field goal by Dustin Hopkins. A quick Eagles three-and-out and 23-yard Greg Reid punt return made it look like FSU would further pad the lead but Boston College’s Jim Noel intercepted another Ponder pass and sprinted to the endzone for a 43-yard return.
The turnover bug bit the ’Noles once again just before the end of the third quarter when Ponder fumbled on the attempted exchange with his running back. The Eagles used that momentum to officially retake the lead 19-17 on a 38-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.
So, what’s the cure for the pesky turnover bug? A little "trickeration" of course.
Well, that may not be typical football logic but that is exactly what the Seminoles did to recapture the lead. Reed took a well-designed end-around from Ponder and dashed 42 yards before diving over the pylon for the go-ahead score.
The nifty little play put FSU on top 24-19 with 10:50 left to play.
Florida State had four turnovers compared to zero by Boston College.
The Seminoles will now get some much needed rest with a bye this coming week. The team then goes on the road to face NC State in a pivotal Thursday-night contest in Raleigh, NC on Oct. 28.
Courtesy of FSU SID