Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lightning Strikes Early, 'Noles Often; QB Ponder Throws for Three Touchdowns in His Debut for Florida State

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Lightning Strikes Early, 'Noles Often; QB Ponder Throws for Three Touchdowns in His Debut for Florida State

Article excerpt

Byline: BOB THOMAS

TALLAHASSEE -- The weather was foul, the crowd was sparse, but it's been a long time since Florida State's offense has looked any better in a season opener.

Christian Ponder passed for 196 yards and three touchdowns in his first career start, leading the Seminoles to a season-opening 69-0 rout of Western Carolina Saturday at Doak Campbell Stadium.

More than two hours worth of lightning delays proved to be the best defense against the Seminoles, who rolled up 561 yards of total offense en route to the most lopsided victory in the program's 62-year history.

The 69-point margin of victory was the widest in school history. It also marked the most points scored by the Seminoles (1-0) since a 72-13 victory over Wake Forest in 1995.

Tony Carter, a former Mandarin High School standout, scored on a 68-yard punt return for a touchdown to give the Seminoles all the points they would need, and for the first 23 minutes, all they would score.

The start of the game was delayed by 1 hour, 21 minutes because of lightning and then for another 55 minutes right after Carter's touchdown.

It went downhill for the visitors, who yielded three touchdowns in the final 6:54 of the first half for a 28-0 Seminoles lead at halftime that seemed to grow exponentially.

Florida State's defense did its part, limiting the Catamounts (1-1) to 176 total yards while pitching their first shutout since a 33-0 whitewash of Virginia in 2006. Western Carolina's lone score threat ended when Blake Bostic was wide right on a 37-yard field goal attempt with 6:40 left.

But this was a night for the offense to celebrate coordinator Jimbo Fisher's decision to move in a new direction.

Ponder rewarded Fisher's decision to give him the starting nod by completing 11 of 17 pass attempts, and chipping in 39 rushing yards on three carries. Directing FSU to touchdowns on the final three possessions of the first half and the opening drive of the second, the redshirt sophomore put the Seminoles comfortably in front before giving way to fellow sophomore D'Vontrey Richardson. …

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