Saturday, December 16, 2017
Colleges

EJ Manuel leads Florida State Seminoles to rout of Boston College Eagles

TALLAHASSEE — Any lingering effects from No. 12 Florida State's first loss of the season quickly disappeared Saturday night against an overmatched Boston College.

The Seminoles defense rebounded from the previous week's second-half collapse with a dominant four quarters, and the offense turned from conservative to aggressive with a career night from quarterback EJ Manuel in a 51-7 rout in front of an announced 81,075 at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"They were locked from the get-go," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "You could sense it. They had a chip on their shoulder."

That chip appeared early as the Seminoles (6-1, 3-1 ACC) fixed the problems that led to a deflating 17-16 defeat at North Carolina State. The Wolfpack converted on three fourth downs in its winning drive, but FSU's defense made sure it didn't happen again against Boston College (1-5, 0-3).

The Eagles drove to the Seminole 1 before the defense began its dominance. Defensive end Bjoern Werner batted down one pass and stuffed a second-down run. The 'Noles stopped the next rush at the goal line, and Werner pressured Boston College quarterback Chase Rettig into an incomplete pass to end the threat.

FSU quickly capitalized with its first 99-yard scoring drive since 2006. Manuel hit receiver Kenny Shaw with a streaking 77-yard touchdown pass — the longest of the quarterback's career and the longest for FSU since 2007.

"I was ready to go," Manuel said.

The score gave the Seminoles the lead for good and marked a turn from the conservative, run-heavy play-calling that fans questioned against the Wolfpack. FSU opened with nine consecutive passes, including six deep balls, and threw on 20 of its 33 first-half plays against the nation's No. 104-ranked defense.

The result: Manuel passed for 295 yards and three touchdowns in the first two quarters, and the Seminoles scored on five of their first seven possessions to run away with the game.

"We had to get over last week's loss," Shaw said.

Manuel finished with four touchdown passes and a career-high 439 passing yards — the first 400-yard performance by an FSU quarterback since Chris Weinke in 2000 — while helping the Seminoles score more than 49 points for the fifth time this season.

Running back James Wilder scored the first two touchdown receptions of his career with highlight-reel plays.

The former Plant High star dived just past the goal line in the second quarter for a 7-yard score, and he hurdled an Eagle defender on his way into the end zone on a 12-yard touchdown two minutes into the fourth quarter.

The FSU defense also rebounded from allowing N.C. State 17 consecutive second-half points last week, shutting out the Eagles in the second half.

"We proved ourselves on that tonight," safety Lamarcus Joyner said.

The Seminoles held the ACC's second-ranked passing offense to 129 passing yards, allowing the Eagles to score a season-low seven points. BC, which has not beaten a Division I-A team this season, converted on only 3-of-16 third- or fourth-down attempts.

FSU's convincing victory followed a familiar script after disappointing upsets. Since 2005, a ranked FSU team has lost nine of its past 11 road games to unranked opponents. The Seminoles have rebounded with wins after seven of those nine defeats.

"It'll be a great challenge to never look back," Fisher said, "and see if we can keep doing it."

Matt Baker can be reached at [email protected]

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