Orange Crushed

Florida State took full advantage of miscues that Syracuse could ill afford to make as the Seminoles glided to a 38-14 conquest of the Orange Saturday afternoon.

Four Syracuse turnovers set up two ready-made scoring opportunities and helped to stake the Seminoles to a 17-0 halftime lead.

FSU's defense did the rest, assuring that the margin would be insurmountable with another stifling performance.

"We did everything we wanted to do in this game," linebacker A.J. Nicholson. "I'll take a performance like this any day. We're proud that we won this game and won it in convincing r>fashion."

FSU quarterbacks Drew Weatherford and Xavier Lee combined to throw for 396 yards and connected with ten different receivers as the Seminoles (4-0) lit up the scoreboard with their aerial attack following an uneventful trio of drives to open the contest.

Weatherford tossed three touchdown passes, none more important than a confidence-building 43-yarder to Willie Reid at the 1:10 mark in the first.

Give the assist to good fortune - an underthrown pass by Weatherford caromed off a pair of Syracuse defenders before the streaking Reid corralled it and raced to the end zone.

"Just like we drew it up," joked Weatherford. "That was a huge play that changed the momentum and complexion of this game. It seemed like we rolled from there."

Lawrence Timmons recovered when the Orange fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Minutes later, the Seminoles had another touchdown - this time on a Weatherford 1-yard sneak - and the rout was on from there.

Timmons, a sophomore reserve linebacker, also forced a fumble later in the contest that led to another FSU score.

"We came out and achieved what we wanted to today," Timmons said. "We kept our noses close to the ball and were able to create some opportunities with our defense and special teams."

Chris Davis and Lorenzo Booker piled on touchdown receptions after halftime and Lamar Lewis scored on an 11-yard touchdown run in mop-up duty.

The multifaceted Booker contributed 113 total yards, the majority of which came via a 71-yard catch-and-run on a screen pass that energized the Doak Campbell Stadium crowd of 83, 717.

The FSU passing game turned in gains of 56, 71 and 75 yards (in that order) Saturday, each setting successive benchmarks for the longest gain of the season. The Seminoles didn't have an individual gain of over 50 yards all of last season.

"The scary thing is that we have so much more potential offensively," Weatherford said. "I was excited about the way we moved the ball today."

SU quarterback Perry Patterson paced the Orange, running for its initial score and throwing for another in the closing minutes. The pair of touchdowns represented the first points surrounded by FSU defense in the second half this season.

"We never quit fighting," SU coach Greg Robinson said. "Our guys were fighting, clawing and scratching to the end and I thought we did some encouraging things late against a pretty good defense."

Players and coaches admitted to some scoreboard watching throughout the contest as No. 5 Florida and No.1 Southern California tangled with ranked opponents at the same time.

A loss by the Gators on Saturday and fourth-ranked LSU's collapse against Tennessee on Monday should move the Seminoles - No. 14 to begin the season - into the top five of the Associated Press poll for the first time in nearly eleven months.

FSU hasn't finished a season in the top five since 2000.

"It's tough not to sneak a peek at the scoreboard when the game is in hand," Booker said. "We're excited about the direction things are going but were a going to have to make an effort to stay focused at the same time."

The Seminoles host Wake Forest next Saturday.

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