No. 16 Florida State needed just a little bit of trickery to overcome its own mistakes and avoid being upset by Boston College. Bert Reed’s 42 yard touchdown run on a reverse lifted the Seminoles to a 24-19 win Saturday as they survived four turnovers by quarterback Christian Ponder to win their fifth straight.
“We knew we had to do something drastic,” Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said. “We made one more play than they did. It wasn’t pretty.”
Boston College (2-4, 0-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) took a 19-17 lead early in the fourth quarter on Nate Freese’s fourth field goal of the game. That followed a Ponder fumble at the Eagles’ 44.
Montel Harris rushed for 191 yards and safety Jim Noel had two of three BC interceptions, including one he returned 43 yards for a third quarter touchdown that pulled the Eagles to within 17-16.
But the Eagles’ offense couldn’t get into the end zone, and the Seminoles took advantage.
“We’ve got to get touchdowns,” Boston College coach Frank Spaziani said. “We weren’t able to pound it and get it in.”
Boston College freshman Chase Rettig completed 9 of 24 apses for 95 yards in his second career start.
“He did some nice things and he did some freshman things,” Spaziani said.
For that matter, so did Florida State’s Ponder.
“Dumb mental mistakes,” said Ponder, who suffered through one of his poorest performances in three years as a starter. “I’ve got to thank my teammates. They pulled me out of it. I didn’t give us a chance to win.”
Ponder completed 19 of 31 passes for 170 yards and a pair of touchdowns — 3 yards to fullback Lonnie Pryor and 10 yards to tight end Beau Reliford.
But his mistakes kept Boston College in the game.
The heavily favored Seminoles (6-1, 4-0 ACC) couldn’t shake the pesky Eagles all day, holding their largest leads — 14-6 at halftime and 17-9 in the third quarter after a 26-yard Dustin Hopkins field goal.
Boston College closed to within 14-9 a minute into the second half on Freese’s third field goal of the game. That score was set up by Noel’s first interception of a Ponder pass, which he returned 20 yards to the Florida State 13.
“I feel very relieved,” Fisher said. “Boston College plays us well. They always have.”
The Eagles had won three of the last four games in this series, including the last two. In those games Harris torched the Seminole defense for a combined 300 yards and three touchdowns rushing. He now has 491 yards rushing in three games against Florida State — with another game waiting next year back in the more familiar confines at Chestnut Hill.
But Saturday the Seminoles managed to slow down the junior BC tailback in the second half, holding him to only 23 yards after he ran for 168 in the first half, including a 72-yard gallop on the game’s first play from scrimmage.
“It’s always in the back of my mind every time I get to come back home to the school that didn’t recruit me and I wanted to go to,” said Harris, who is from Jacksonville. “It was fun, but we didn’t come out with a win.”
Florida State’s trio of tailbacks — Thomas, Ty Jones and Chris Thompson — combined for 104 yards on 25 carries. Besides his game-winning run, Reed caught four passes for 35 yards.
Florida State’s defense which came into the game leading the nation in sacks with 26 added four more Saturday, including two by sophomore defensive end Brandon Jenkins who now has seven on the season.
Ponder and Easterling teamed up on a pair of 23-yard pass plays that keyed a 96-yard drive culminated by Ponder’s 10-yard scoring throw to Reliford that gave the Seminoles a 14-6 lead with 1:03 left in the second quarter.
Until that final drive late in the half, Florida State had managed only 51 yards offense and only 20 running the ball. The Seminoles came into the game averaging 223.5 yards rushing a game.