Noles Pound Tar Heels

TALLAHASSEE – Even with quarterback Wyatt Sexton making his first career start, Florida State offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden said his playbook would be "wide open" against North Carolina. Bowden wasn't kidding and Sexton took full advantage, firing three touchdown passes as FSU held off the Tar Heels 38-16 in front of 82,708 at Doak Campbell Stadium Saturday afternoon.

Sexton, called upon because senior starter Chris Rix is nursing a high ankle sprain, completed 20-of-31 passes for 193 yards on the day. He directed a Florida State offense that scored on its first two drives and rolled up 442 yards.

  Statistically speaking, it was the most successful say for an FSU passer since Rix threw for 256 yards and three scores against Florida last November.

 

"I was very comfortable, very at ease with everything I was doing out there," Sexton said. "I think we were close to making some big plays today…we had some dropped balls and I misread some things but (overall) I think we had a good day."

 

 The redshirt sophomore opened strong, completing nine of his first ten passes as the Seminoles marched down the field on their first two drives. In the first quarter alone, Sexton found six different receivers.

  Touchdown runs by tailbacks Leon Washington and Lorenzo Booker gave the Seminoles an early 14-3 advantage.

 

 "He came out gunning," said Booker. "It was like he'd been out there for two or three drives before that. I think the whole offense was able to feed off that."

 

  Safety Pat Watkins made sure UNC's lone turnover was a costly one. After intercepting a tipped Durant pass late in the first half – his third in as many games – Watkins put together an extraordinary return down the UNC 2.

  Though his 28-yard effort was negated by a holding call, the Seminoles found the end zone anyway. A 5-yard touchdown pass from Sexton to Stovall 40 seconds before halftime gave FSU 21-6 advantage at the break.

 

 "Big plays really help in a game like the one today," Watkins said. "That play turned things a little bit. It helped us out a lot."

 

UNC trimmed the lead to 24-13 when Jawarski Pollack scored on a flare pass from Durant at the 10:42 mark in the third but never got any closer.   Sexton capped a clock eating drive with a scoring strike to Craphonso Thorpe to give FSU control for good. After nine straight runs, Thorpe got behind a cheating secondary to find the end zone on third-and-5 from the 11.

 

 "We weren't passing the ball as well as we were early so we decided to go out there and grind it down their throat," Sexton said. "We were able to do that successfully."

 

  Booker and Washington did their part to close the game out. The duo combined for 237 yards against a porous Tar Heel defense that ranks near the bottom of the NCAA in several categories.

 

  "The guys on defense and special teams did their jobs today and I felt good to keep them off the field and get them a little rest," Washington said. "We wanted to help shoulder the load."

 

 Durant powered the UNC offense, piling up 254 yards passing against a Seminoles' defense that struggled with their tackling the entire afternoon. Jacque Lewis paced the ground game with 71 yards on 13 carries.

  North Carolina's 363 yards of total offense was more than FSU had given up in its past two games combined.

 

  "We did move the ball…we made a lot of plays," UNC coach John Bunting said. "When a team gets over 350 yards against the No. 4 defense in the country, they are doing a lot of good things. Unfortunately, there are maybe a few other opportunities that we didn't take advantage of to make bigger plays."

 

 The Seminoles (3-1, 2-1 ACC) travel to Syracuse next weekend. Meanwhile, North Carolina (2-3, 1-2) continues its conference schedule with a home date against rival N.C. State.

 

 

 


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