TALLAHASSEE — Florida State sophomore TB Jermaine Thomas has been pushed hard by the coaches to run with more authority and run through adversity.
He sure did that against North Carolina State on Saturday.
Thomas rushed 20 times for a career-high 186 yards, most for an FSU back since Leon Washington had 195 against West Virginia in the 2005 Gator Bowl.
"In practice, all week, we stressed, 'Just hit it,' " he said. "I took heed of that."
Case in point: On the Seminoles' first touchdown drive, Thomas burst off right tackle but was stripped of the ball. He wheeled around, scooped it up and reversed field for a 20-yard gain. He later scored the first of two touchdowns on a 4-yard run.
"Some of my teammates were looking for it, I picked it up and just ran," he said.
Big play for Fortson … on d? Sophomore WR Jarmon Fortson turned in a defensive gem midway through the third quarter. That's right, defensive.
On first down, QB Christian Ponder saw his pass intended for Fortson get tipped at the line and picked off by DT Natanu Mageo.
Fortson not only went for the tackle but the ball.
"He doesn't know what he's doing with the ball, so I just basically tried to get my hand in there and rip it out. I had my hand in there for about five or 10 seconds, and fortunately it came out," he said.
Fortson recovered the ball at the FSU 18.
"I just want to show the coaches and the team that I'm here to play," he said, "and I really want to win."
End of a streak: Ponder's streak of passes without an interception ended at 254. N.C. State LB Terrell Manning picked off a fluttering pass in the final minute of the first half, his first career interception.
Better late than never: Ponder, who was left off the list of 15 players for the Davey O'Brien National Quarterback Award, was a late addition to the watch list for the Maxwell Award, which goes to the nation's top player. The semifinalists will be announced Wednesday.
good seats available: FSU officials announced that 67,712 tickets were distributed for the homecoming game. That's nearly 14,600 below a sellout at Doak Campbell, and there seemed to be far more empty seats than that. Ponder wasn't surprised by the worst crowd at Doak Campbell since 1993. "We've had a disappointing season," he said. "We had a lot of high expectations going into the season and so did the fans. I can understand why they are upset."
HOMECOMING for 'Pack: N.C. State has long mined Florida for players, so it's not surprising that it has 17 players — six starters — from the state. That includes redshirt junior WR Darrell Davis (Pasco High), redshirt junior WR Donald Bowens (St. Petersburg High), senior S Bobby Floyd (Countryside) and graduate student Ted Larsen (Palm Harbor University), the starting center. Davis had two catches for 53 yards, Bowens two for 35 and Floyd two tackles.
Familiar foe: FSU played N.C. State for the 30th time, a series that dates to 1952. The only teams the Seminoles have played more: Miami (54 times), Florida (51) and Virginia Tech (33).