By: Brandon Mellor, Seminoles.com
Sept. 19, 2009
PROVO, Utah -- The Cougars never had a chance ... and now the Seminoles will be bringing some turf back to the east coast.
Underdogs to the seventh-ranked team in the nation, the Florida State football team went out to Provo, Utah Saturday night and blasted BYU 54-28 to put an end to the Cougar's 18-game home winning streak.
In doing so, senior team captain Dekoda Watson will bring home a chunk of the turf to bury in the program's storied Sod Cemetery on campus.
"It was really an unexpected win, especially with that kind of score," said FSU head coach Bobby Bowden, whose team generated 511 yards of offense. "I think tonight shows you we are getting back."
FSU starting quarterback Christian Ponder was masterful in the mountains as he completed 21 of his 25 pass attempts for 195 yards, two touchdowns and no turnovers as the Seminoles (2-1, 0-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) moved to a perfect 7-0 when the redshirt junior doesn't throw an interception.
While Ponder was efficiently moving the ball through the air, a stable of tailbacks held it down on the ground after struggling through the first two games of the year. Ty Jones led the way with 109 yards on 13 carries and Lonnie Pryor added 50 yards and two scores on seven rushes.
Even Ponder had success toting the ball as he amassed 79 yards and a score on 11 carries as FSU rushed for a team total of 313 yards.
Through the air, Jarmon Fortson and Rod Owens had four catches each for a combined 90 yards. Bert Reed had 34 yards receiving and Caz Piurowski had 38 of his own for a Seminole offense that scored the second most points ever allowed by BYU (2-1) on its home field.
"Our offense was incredible," Ponder said. "Everyone stepped up and it was amazing to see."
Defensively, the Seminoles had difficulty stopping a talented Cougars offense as quarterback Max Hall's unit posted 475 total yards. Still, FSU made plays when it had to as the team forced five turnovers and scored 17 points off those takeaways.
A week after a sloppy win over Jacksonville State, the Seminoles looked like a completely different offensive team right away against the Cougars.
On the first drive of the evening, FSU marched 80 yards and got on the board first as Jones dove into the endzone from three yards out.
The Cougars were then threatening to score on their first drive but Budd Thacker forced a fumble and last week's hero, Kevin McNeil, scooped it off the turf. The stellar defensive play was followed up by another fantastic drive for FSU.
The 'Noles were methodical as they picked and popped the BYU defense on a commanding 18-play drive. Lining up at fullback in front of Jones, Pryor then scored his first touchdown as a Seminole as he slammed in for a one-yard score to push the FSU lead to 13-0 early in the second quarter.
BYU was able to respond on the ensuing drive with a touchdown but the FSU offense didn't care. After Greg Reid took the kick-off to the 40-yard line, Jones' highlight-reel run of 47 yards put FSU on the BYU nine-yard line.
On the very next play, Pryor danced into the endzone from nine yards away for his second score.
Unfortunately for FSU, it became apparent very early that the defense was going to have trouble stopping a potent Cougar passing attack. Luckily, Ponder and the offense came prepared.
After a BYU score cut the FSU lead to 20-14, Ponder orchestrated another beautiful drive. Playing in his first game for FSU, redshirt junior tailback Tavares Pressley's 12-yard run put the 'Noles on the BYU five-yard line and then two plays later Piurowski snared a five-yard pass in the back of the endzone as FSU jumped out to a 27-14 lead with 24 seconds left in the second quarter.
And they weren't done.
On the following kick-off, true freshman safety Jajuan Harley forced a fumble and kicker Dustin Hopkins was then able to drill a 33-yard field as the first-half clock expired to give Florida State a 30-14 advantage at the break.
Looking to add to the lead, the Seminoles did just that at the start of the third quarter.
With BYU moving down the field at ease, Reid stepped in front of Hall's pass and returned it 63 yards to pay dirt. The interception was Reid's second of his career and the score was his first.
On top 37-14 against a Cougars team that had allowed just an average of eight points per game prior to Saturday's contest, the FSU defense forced the first BYU punt of the night. The offense then scored again when Ponder dove into the endzone a few minutes later to extend the Seminoles' lead to a staggering 44-14.
The Cougars found the endzone again, however, as an 80-yard scoring pass trimmed the lead to 44-21.
A first-career interception by linebacker Nigel Bradham and a Hopkins field goal later, FSU's 47-21 lead then ballooned to 54-21 when Ponder connected with Fortson on a 16-yard touchdown pass for the team's final score.
"This is a statement that we are trying to make for ourselves," Watson said. "We are showing that Florida State is still going to make plays. Don't count us out."
Next up for the Seminoles is a home game against South Florida on Saturday. Fans are encouraged to come to Doak Campbell Stadium sporting white shirts as the team will don all-white uniforms at home for the first time in program history.
That game is slated for a noon kick-off.