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No. 4 Florida State uses big second half to top Clemson

Sep 23, 2012 - 5:27 AM Tallahassee, FL (Sports Network) - EJ Manuel threw for 380 yards and two touchdowns as No. 4 Florida State used a dominant second half to take a 49-37 victory over 10th-ranked Clemson.

Manuel completed 27-of-35 pass attempts and added 102 yards on 12 carries, while Chris Thompson carried the ball 15 times for 103 yards and two scores for Florida State (4-0, 2-0 ACC).

James Wilder Jr. also rushed for a pair of touchdowns in the victory.

Tajh Boyd threw for 237 yards, three touchdowns and an interception on 20- of-36 efficiency for Clemson (3-1, 0-1). He also had 44 yards on 18 rushes.

Andre Ellington had 87 yards and a touchdown on four receptions, while adding 55 yards and a score on 14 carries for the Tigers, who fell to 2-6 against Florida State in games when both teams are ranked.

DeAndre Hopkins led all Clemson receivers with five catches for 88 yards and a touchdown.

"We just didn't play four quarters," Clemson coach Dabo Swinney said. "It's a great game for us to grow and learn from. There is a lot of football left. Certainly we've got a lot of improving to do."

Clemson held a 21-14 lead entering the third quarter and quickly added to its edge following a Florida State punt with a 52-yard touchdown reception by Ellington.

FSU, though, quickly answered when Kelvin Benjamin raced down the left sideline for a 64-yard gain on a screen pass to set up Thompson's 9-yard TD scamper.

A 50-yard field goal by Chandler Catanzaro then put Clemson on top 31-21, but Florida State scored the game's next 28 points to take control.

Lamarcus Joyner kickstarted the comeback with a 90-yard return on the ensuing kickoff and Greene hauled in a 9-yard score two plays later.

Clemson was held to a pair of three-and-outs over its next two possessions and the Seminoles capitalized with Rodney Smith's 29-yard touchdown reception in the right side of the end zone and a 5-yard rumble across the goal line by Wilder to run out to a 42-31 lead less than two minutes into the fourth quarter.

The Tigers seemed to catch a break later in the fourth when a Manuel fumble was recovered by Clemson's Tavaris Barnes at the Tigers' 22-yard line, but Nick Waisome stepped in front of a Boyd pass two plays later and returned it 19 yards to the Clemson 27.

Thompson rushed into the end zone off the left side on the next play to extend FSU's lead to 49-31.

A 3-yard touchdown grab by Brandon Ford with 2:11 left in the game put an end to Florida State's scoring run.

After a failed two-point conversion attempt, Clemson could not convert an on- side kick attempt and the Seminoles were able to run out the remainder of the clock.

"That was a great ballgame. I think that was two very good football teams throwing haymakers at each other right from the opening bell and just kept answering each other's calls," Seminoles coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We were very fortunate to come out on top and win. It's a good win."

Clemson wasted no time getting on the board as Boyd hit Hopkins for a 60-yard touchdown strike on the fifth play of the game to give the Tigers a quick 7-0 lead.

But Florida State answered with a 6-play, 85-yard march highlighted by a 19- yard reception by Smith and a 28-yard rush by Manuel before Lonnie Pryor capped the drive with a 13-yard run into the end zone.

Ellington caught a screen pass on the Tigers' ensuing possession and turned it into a 39-yard gain to move the ball deep into FSU territory. Clemson then converted a 4th-and-1 at the Seminoles' 16-yard line with a fake field goal for a fresh set of downs before Ellington finished off the 10-play, 79-yard drive with a 6-yard TD run.

The back-and-forth affair ended on FSU's next touch as Dustin Hopkins missed a 44-yard field goal wide right to keep it a 14-7 game with 2:41 left in the first quarter.

The Tigers, though, were held to a punt, and a 41-yard rush by Thompson and a 28-yard reception by Nick O'Leary set up Wilder's 5-yard touchdown run to knot the game at 14 within the first minute of the second quarter.

Clemson was forced to punt on its next possession, but FSU's Rashad Greene had the ball knocked out of his hands and the Tigers' Phillip Fajgenbaum recovered at the Seminoles' 31-yard line.

Four plays later, Boyd found Ford for a 17-yard touchdown to give Clemson back the lead.

Florida State later started a drive at its own 31 with just over two minutes left in the half and marched down to the Clemson 13 with the help of a 31-yard gain on a screen pass by Thompson, but Hopkins' 37-yard field goal attempt as time expired missed wide left to keep it a 21-14 game at the break.

Game Notes

Florida State is 2-0 in the ACC for the third time in the last nine seasons (2005 and 2010) ... The Seminoles lead the all-time series between the teams, 18-8 ... Thompson caught eight balls for 79 yards ... Wilder finished with 65 yards on nine carries ... FSU had 667 yards of total offense, while Clemson finished with 426.