NCAA Game Summary - Florida State at North Carolina|
(Thursday, October 22nd)
Final Score: Florida State 30, North Carolina 27
Chapel Hill, NC (Sports Network) - Christian Ponder threw for a career-high
395 yards and three touchdowns, including the go-ahead score to Beau Reliford
in the fourth quarter, as Florida State rallied from an 18-point deficit in
the second half to beat North Carolina, 30-27, at Kenan Stadium.
Florida State coach Bobby Bowden was in danger of matching the worst start in
his history at the school, but the Seminoles (3-4, 1-3 ACC) came back from a
24-6 hole in the third quarter.
Ponder completed 33-of-40 passes and Rod Owens caught nine balls for 199
yards, including a 98-yard TD in the third quarter. Ponder hit his last 16
passes, throwing for 236 yards and three scores during that span.
"He's probably the most underrated in the country," Bowden said of Ponder. "We
talk about the super three (Sam Bradford, Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy) up there,
which they are, but this kid might ought to be sitting up there with them."
Bowden seemed upset by his team's putrid discipline as the Seminoles committed
16 penalties, totaling 121 yards, but FSU snapped a three-game skid.
T.J. Yates connected on 12-of-25 passes for 64 yards with a TD and an
interception for the Tar Heels (4-3, 0-3), who lost for the third time in four
games. They also fell to 1-15-1 all-time against the Seminoles.
Shaun Draughn rushed for 126 yards in defeat.
"It's just a bad feeling," said UNC linebacker Kevin Reddick. "Like I said,
composure. I guess we got too happy when we were up 24-6. We've just got to
hold our composure and stay humble."
In the first Thursday night home game in UNC history and with ex-Tar Heel
Lawrence Taylor on the sidelines rooting for his alma mater, North Carolina
bolted to a big lead, but faltered down the stretch. The Tar Heels gave up 438
Yates scored on a 10-yard run less than four minutes into the third quarter
before the Seminoles began their comeback. Ponder found Taiwan Easterling
over the middle for a six-yard score with over six minutes left in the
quarter for a 24-13 FSU deficit.
Jamie Robinson then intercepted a pass, giving FSU the ball just outside its
own end zone. On the ensuing play, Ponder's 98-yard TD pass to Owens, who
broke free on a fly pattern up the right sideline, tied the longest scoring
pass play in Seminoles history, pulling the visitors within 24-20 with 4:41
Dustin Hopkins split the uprights from 40 yards less than three minutes into
the fourth for the Seminoles.
Casey Barth broke the string of 17 unanswered FSU points with a 26-yard field
goal with nearly 7 1/2 minutes left.
But Ponder drove the Seminoles 63 yards for the winning score, capping the
march with an 18-yard pass to Reliford, who was left all alone on the right
side of the field and walked into the end zone with 6:20 left.
Both teams then traded punts, but the Tar Heels were left with only 47 seconds
left when they got the ball a final time. Yates was sacked in his own
territory on the game's last play.
In recent weeks there has been speculation that this would be Bowden's final
season, and Thursday's comeback was a welcome sight for the FSU program.
Despite the victory, it's still been a terrible start to the season for
Bowden, who was last dealt four consecutive defeats in 1974 when he was the
head coach at West Virginia. The Seminoles, who have a streak of 27 straight
bowl appearances, haven't lost four in a row since 1975, the year before
Bowden took over at FSU.
Greg Little scored on a five-yard run 3 1/2 minutes into the game, but Hopkins
drilled a 48-yard field goal with just over five minutes left in the quarter.
Yates threw a 13-yard TD pass to Ed Barham later in the first quarter. It came
just two plays after Ponder was sacked and fumbled the ball away.
Barth's 34-yard field goal early in the second pushed the lead to 17-3, but
the Seminoles countered with a Hopkins 26-yard boot on the final play of
the half. FSU had a 1st-and-goal at the three, but couldn't punch it in the
"I told the coaches and I also told the players at the half that's the worst
half of football I can ever remember," said Bowden. "I've been coaching 55
years. I couldn't believe how we could play so bad. Mistakes, penalties and
fumbles, that was the two biggest things, but really it was worse. I told the
coaches it was our fault as much as it was the players."
10/23 00:56:29 ET