TALLAHASSEE — Florida State senior QB Christian Ponder had a ready-made excuse for his turnover-marred performance on Saturday if he chose to use it.
Late in the first quarter against Boston College, he scrambled, was tripped and fell directly on his right (throwing) elbow and "busted" his bursa sac.
"It swelled up pretty good and it was hurting a little bit, but it wasn't too bad," he said after the 24-19 win. "What affected me the most was making dumb mental mistakes."
He threw three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown, and lost one fumble. That was the most turnovers he had since last year's loss at Clemson, the game he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury when he tried to make a tackle after throwing his fourth interception. Saturday, his miscues led to 13 Boston College points.
He arm was in a sling, keeping the elbow elevated.
"I'll probably get it drained and after that it'll be fine," he said.
Coach Jimbo Fisher knew about the injury but never wavered in sticking with his star throughout the game.
"He was banged and bruised, he didn't play his normal game," he said, "but the kid's a winner. He's a champion. I know what's in his heart and I know what's in his mind and I looked him in the eye. I don't ever doubt on him. I don't. I believe in him and you measure players on their bad days. When you're able to scrounge around and find a win on your bad day, it says a lot about you."
Welcome back: Junior TB Ty Jones, a former Middleton High standout who sprained an ankle late in the win against Wake Forest and missed the games at Virginia and Miami, returned Saturday in a big way.
Jones converted on third and 1 with a 1-yard run, then a 1-yard gain on fourth and 1 on the final drive that ran out the last 8:04. In all, he had 35 yards on 10 carries, though he lost yardage on a run for the first time this season.
"We had some crucial short-yardage plays and he's a big back and is able to lower his shoulder and get those few yards," Ponder said. "He's still battling an ankle injury but that was huge for him to go out there and do what he did."
Follow the ball: FSU sophomore WR Rodney Smith proved at a pivotal time in the first half why you don't give up on a play. With his team down 6-0 late in the first quarter, he had a high pass go off his hands on a third-and-5 play.
Boston College LB Kevin Pierre-Louis looked like he might intercept the ball, but he managed to keep it airborne as if a volleyball setter and Smith dived forward to grab it for a 7-yard gain and a first down.
"I just tried to concentrate on the ball and kept my eye on it," he said. "I saw it coming back down so I wanted to go get it."
FSU scored its first touchdown three plays later.
Record watch: With 170 yards, Ponder has 6,015 passing yards to pass Thad Busby (5,916 yards) for sixth place as the school's all-time leader. Danny Kanell (6,372) is fifth. Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke (9,839) tops the list.
Odds and ends: With two sacks, sophomore DE Brandon Jenkins has seven on the season. Last year's team leader, Bucs rookie LB Dekoda Watson, had 6.5 … Freshman WR Greg Dent made his first career catch in the first half, a 12-yarder that helped fuel FSU's second scoring drive. … Redshirt sophomore DT Everett Dawkins injured his right hand.