TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Bobby Bowden and Florida State played in front of the smallest crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium in 16 years.
The 67,712 fans who did show up saw another wild victory for the Seminoles.
Receiver Bert Reed’s 3-yard touchdown run on an inside reverse with 1:36 left and lifted Florida State to a 45-42 win over North Carolina State that produced 1,100 yards of offense.
“You know Bert, he doesn’t like to punch it in like that,” quarterback Christian Ponder said. “And for him to lower his shoulder and go straight up the middle and punch it in was awesome.”
The Seminoles have won two straight after a three-game losing streak gave Florida State its worst start to a season since 1976, Bowden’s first year as coach in Tallahassee.
The poor start brought criticism on Bowden and deflated Florida State fans, but the Seminoles (4-4, 2-3 Atlantic Coast Conference) are now back to .500.
They rallied last week for a 30-27 win at North Carolina after trailing by 18 points in the third quarter.
Ponder wasn’t surprised by the worst crowd at Doak Campbell since 1993 — about 20,000 empty seats.
“We’ve had a disappointing season,” he said. “We had a lot of high expectations going into the season and so did the fans. I can understand why they are upset.”
The 170-pound Reed, Florida State’s leading receiver this season, had 44 yards on four runs and caught six passes for 66 yards.
“I’m running pretty fast. So I try to use that as my advantage (so) when they hit my I won’t go flying back so far,” Reed said. “I just go in there.”
NC State took its first lead at 42-38 with 3:50 left when Russell Wilson found Jarvis Williams for his third touchdown catch of the game.
The Seminoles answered with a game-winning eight-play, 66-yard drive.
Wilson, the ACC’s all-conference quarterback last season as a freshman, hit on 20 of 30 throws and was also intercepted twice — the last pick by Florida State’s Jamie Robinson at the goal line ending the game.
“I got hit when I threw it, but saw it go in the end zone and said, ‘come on, come on,’ don’t fall short,” Wilson said. “We had a chance.”
Wilson threw for 349 yards and a career-best five TDs for the Wolfpack (3-5, 0-4).
“He was spectacular,” NC State coach Tom O’Brien said. “We were one play away.”
Jermaine Thomas ran for a career high 186 yards and a pair of touchdowns and freshman Chris Thompson scored twice on short runs for the Seminoles.
The Seminoles took a 38-28 lead on Thompson’s second touchdown, a 4-yard run, with 11:52 left in the game, but NC State answered with a pair of quick touchdowns.
Florida State was balanced on offense, rushing for 278 yards while Christian Ponder added another 277 through the air. He completed 26 of 40, including a 6-yard touchdown pass to Rod Owens.
He was also picked off twice, the first ending a string of 254 passes without an interception.
Despite producing 42 points and 538 yards, NC State remained winless in the ACC as its defense has now allowed an average of 44 points a game in league play.
Wilson passed for 228 yards in the first half, hooking up with Owen Spencer on an 80-yard scoring play and Williams on a 7-yard TD that tied the game at 21 with 1:29 left in the half.
Spencer finished the day with 165 yards on five catches.