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Oct. 10, 2010
MIAMI (AP) - Jermaine Thomas had the best game of his career at the best possible time for Florida State. For good measure, Chris Thompson had the longest run ever allowed in Miami's illustrious history.
Add it all up, and Florida State looks like the best team in the Atlantic Coast Conference once again.
Thomas had the first three-touchdown game of his career, all coming in the first 21 minutes, and the 23rd-ranked Seminoles remained perfect in the ACC with a surprisingly one-sided 45-17 win over No. 13 Miami on Saturday night.
Thompson sealed it with a 90-yard touchdown run with 4:24 remaining, part of a 298-yard rushing effort by the Seminoles. Never in Miami's history had the Hurricanes allowed more than an 83-yard run, that one coming in 1948 by Kentucky's Carl Genito.
A night to forget for Miami, by any measure.
Christian Ponder threw for 173 yards and two touchdowns for Florida State (5-1, 3-0), which hasn't gotten off to a start this good in conference play since 2005. Thompson had 158 yards on 14 carries, Thomas rushed 16 times for 78 yards and two touchdowns, plus had a 17-yard catch to open the scoring for Florida State, which ran out to a 21-0 lead and never looked back.
Damien Berry ran 20 times for 101 yards for Miami (3-2, 1-1). Jacory Harris completed 19 of 47 passes for 225 yards, with a rushing touchdown and an interception. He was limping throughout the night.
"I knew there were going to be ups and downs this game," Ponder said on the field afterward.
Indeed there were - ups for Florida State, downs for Miami. It was the second-most points Florida State scored in the series, and just the fifth time in 55 games that a team enjoyed as big a win.
Countless Florida State-Miami games during this Sunshine State rivalry series have been classics, with six being decided by a field goal or less in the previous 10 years alone.
This one could only be considered classic by those clad in garnet and gold.
Miami drove to the Florida State 10 on the game's opening drive, coming away empty when Matt Bosher missed a 32-yard field goal wide left.
And that was a harbinger of what awaited the Hurricanes. Mistakes, they came in bunches for Miami.
Berry fumbled the ball away early in the second quarter, the turnover forced by Mike Harris - a South Florida native, playing his first game in the region since the death of his mother on the day of Florida State's opener - and Nick Moody took the recovery 36 yards to the Miami 1.
Thomas went in one play later, and after Miami went three-and-out on its ensuing possession, Thomas scored from six yards out to cap a six-play, 68-yard drive that gave the Seminoles a 21-0 lead.
It was the largest crowd for the Hurricanes since they moved from the Orange Bowl to Sun Life Stadium: 75,115.
Oddly, it was the Seminoles feeling right at home.
When the teams last met at Miami in 2008, Florida State ran out to a 24-3 halftime lead in a downpour before pulling out a 41-39 win. This time, the Seminoles led by 17 at the break, and the only thing raining down were boos upon the Hurricanes.
And neither the 'Noles nor the boos let up, either.
Florida State took the second-half kickoff and went 69 yards in five plays, most of them on a 44-yard rush by Chris Thompson (on a play where Miami's defense was in mass-confusion mode, one player scrambling off the field just before the snap), and the final 16 yards coming when Lonnie Pryor went up the middle, barely got hit and then scooted out to the right for a 31-7 lead.
Berry's 26-yard touchdown run helped Miami get within 31-17 entering the fourth, before Ponder threw a perfect pass to Smith for an 18-yard touchdown - followed three minutes later by the exclamation point, Thompson going untouched for the romp that sent the Florida State sideline into an absolute frenzy.