TALLAHASSEE (CBS4/AP)—Florida State fans were reveling as their team took on North Carolina State Saturday.
North Carolina State coach Tom O’Brien hadn’t seen much of EJ Manuel. Now he’s seen enough of the Florida State quarterback.
And Florida State’s defense too for that matter.
Manuel threw for 321 yards and two touchdowns Saturday to lead Florida State to a 34-0 win over North Carolina State.
“He’s been the difference in their team,” O’Brien said. “When he went down they had problems. He’s back and in the last couple of weeks they look like they’re back to being the top 10 team they were.”
Florida State (5-3, 3-2 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 24-0 at halftime and intercepted N.C. State quarterback Mike Glennon twice en route to its first shutout of the season..
Manuel completed 25 of 34 passes and connected on scoring plays of 20 yards to Kenny Shaw and 26 yards to Greg Dent.
But it was Manuel’s ability to escape defenders that completely sold O’Brien.
“That one second down and forever and we have the guy stopped?” O’Brien said. “I don’t know how he gets out of three or four tackles and he makes the first down. He’s a special player.”
Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said it may have been Manuel’s best performance overall since taking over as the team’s fulltime starter this season.
“He makes you play better. He opens up your offense,” Fisher said. “I’m not saying he’s doing everything himself, but they’re all playing better. He has that effect on those guys.”
Lonnie Pryor and Devonta Freeman scored on short runs and Dustin Hopkins chipped in with two field goals for the Seminoles, who have bounced back from an early-season, three-game losing streak with three straight wins.
N.C. State (4-4, 1-3) managed only 166 yards on offense, while suffering its first shutout since the 2008 season opener. The `Pack had just 36 rushing yards, committed three turnovers and allowed four sacks.
“It’s amazing when yo can get a shutout,” said Florida State linebacker Vince Williams, who had one of the Seminoles’ interceptions. “It’s really what y ou stive for, but when you can actually have a shutout it’s amazing.”
The Seminoles, who rolled up 444 yards and 23 first downs in the game, dominated from the opening kickoff.
Florida State’s offense produced 249 yards before halftime while its defense limited N.C. State to 106 yards as Glennon managed only 71 passing yards and suffered one of his two interceptions.
Manuel sizzled in the first half, completing 17 of 22 for 212 yards and the touchdown throw to Shaw that gave Florida State its 24-0 halftime lead. His lone interception came when Rodney Smith bobbled the ball and had it swiped away by N.C. State’s Terrell Manning.
But there were few highlights for the Wolfpack.
“We didn’t play very well,” O’Brien said. “When you don’t play well against a team of this caliber, it ends up the way it ended up today.”
N.C. State was bullied for most of the game by Florida State’s stronger and quicker defense and improving offensive line.
Lonnie Pryor dragged a handful of N.C. State defenders into the end zone midway through the second quarter to give the Seminoles a 17-0 lead.
Devonta Freeman scored on a 7-yard run for the game’s first touchdown and Dustin Hopkins added a 43-yard field goal. A 32-yard Manuel pass to Christian Green preceded Freeman’s scoring run. The two-play scoring drive was set up by Greg Reid’s 28-yard punt return.
Senior tailback Jermaine Thomas didn’t score, but continued his resurgence with a game-high 48 yards rushing and another 53 yards receiving on five catches.
“We’ve been trying to get ou t of our slump,” said Thomas, whose 48 yards rushing put him at 2,008 for his career.
Manuel’s 25 completions was a career high. The 6-5, 240-pound junior has now thrown for 1,776 yards and 13 touchdowns.
It was Florida State’s first win of the season over a team that had a winning record.
N.C. State came into the game averaging 31.4 points and 370.6 yards offense, but struggled all day to slow down Florida State’s speedy defense. The Wolfpack’s deepest penetration of the game was at Florida State’s 28 and that was the benefit of a penalty.
Glennon, who had thrown for 1,717 yards and 19 TD’s coming into the game, completed 19 of 34 passes for 130 yards while James Washington was held to 35 yards on 13 carries. .
The Wolfpack’s T.J. Graham, who came into the game leading the nation in all-purpose yards, picked up 76 of his 116 yards on kickoff returns.
It was the first time since a 34-0 loss to South Carolina in the 2008 opener that the Wolfpack was kept off the scoreboard.
Florida State, which had been ranked as high as fifth nationally earlier in the season, goes on the road for a Thursday night game at Boston College while N.C. State hosts intrastate rival North Carolina next Saturday.
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