TALLAHASSEE, Fla. — Criticized for conservative play calling after blowing a 16-point lead last week, Florida State went to the air from the get-go Saturday and didn’t let up.
EJ Manuel threw for a career-high 439 yards and four touchdowns and kicker Dustin Hopkins became the Atlantic Coast Conference’s career scoring leader as the 12th-ranked Seminoles rebounded from their first loss of the season with a 51-7 victory over Boston College.
Manuel, who completed 27 of 34 passes before leaving early in the fourth quarter with a 48-7 lead, had little to say afterward, though he was quite happy.
“I was ready to go,” Manuel said. “We made sure everybody came back with a punch.”
Florida State (6-1, 3-1 ACC) didn’t waste any time shaking off last week’s 17-16 loss at North Carolina State, rolling to a 28-0 lead midway through the second quarter before Boston College (1-5, 0-3) scored its touchdown on Chase Rettig’s 18-yard pass to Bobby Swigert.
“Some teams can’t bounce back,” said Florida State running back James Wilder Jr., who caught two of Manuel’s scoring throws. “We just made sure we didn’t have that taste in our mouth anymore.”
“I thought our kids did a great job all week of putting that last game behind them,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “Not letting it drag on. We executed very well.”
And that was exactly what Boston College coach Frank Spaziani had feared coming into the game.
“They got annoyed that they got a little conservative last week and they weren’t about to do that,” Spaziani said. “They were going to attack and they were in an attack mode right from the beginning.”
Manuel threw six straight passes on the opening 99-yard drive without once going to the run. He passed for 295 yards and three touchdowns in the first half alone.
Boston College drove to the Florida State 1-yard line one on the opening drive of the game, but couldn’t score, stopped twice only inches from the goal line.
“I don’t know if that’s going to be a difference in the game, but it certainly sets a little different tone,” Spaziani said.
It didn’t take the Seminoles long to get to the other end.
Kenny Shaw raced 77 yards with a Manuel pass to cap Florida State’s drive. Shaw caught the pass near midfield and outran two BC defenders down the left sideline for the touchdown. He had two catches for 125 yards and teammate Rodney Smith had nine receptions for 108 yards and has now caught at least one pass in 32 straight games.
Kelvin Benjamin also caught a scoring pass and Lonnie Pryor had two touchdowns on short runs.
Florida State added 201 yards rushing. Devonta Freeman had 70 and Chris Thompson ran for 68.
Hopkins passed the previous league scoring record of 393 points with a 51-yard field goal that gave the Seminoles a 31-7 halftime lead.
“I didn’t know until after it happened,” Hopkins said. “I’m just humbled by the whole thing.”
Hopkins boosted his career total to 402 points and now stands fifth on the NCAA scoring list. He also erased a pair of Florida State career marks that stood for 25 years, both previously held by Derrick Schmidt. Hopkins’ 75 field goals are five shy of the ACC mark held by former Maryland kicker Nick Novak, who was the league’s previous scoring leader.
Rettig, who came into the game averaging 306.2 yards passing, managed 122 against the ACC’s top defense.
“It wasn’t what we wanted, but we were just trying to stay in it,” Rettig said. “They made plays and we didn’t make enough.”
Andre Williams ran for 104 yards on 20 carries for the Eagles, who are at Georgia Tech next Saturday.
Florida State visits longtime nemesis Miami next weekend.
And the Seminoles players have no plans to take the Hurricanes the least bit lightly.
“You’re always seven days away from being humbled,” Florida State’s Lamarcus Joyner said. “Each game is going to be a one game season.”