TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (Sports Network) - Christian Ponder threw for 167 yards and four touchdowns in just one half of action, as 20th-ranked Florida State began the post-Bobby Bowden era with a 59-6 rout of Samford at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Bowden, who was also the head coach at Samford from 1959-62, spent 34 years with the Seminoles. He reluctantly called it quits after a 7-6 mark in 2009 and Jimbo Fisher, a former Samford quarterback who had been anointed the FSU head coach in waiting after three years as a Bowden assistant, finally took over on the Seminole sideline.
Ty Jones ran for 107 yards and a score for the Seminoles (1-0), who dominated from the start and outgained the Bulldogs 481-300. Jermaine Thomas and Chris Thompson also ran for touchdowns and Lonnie Pryor caught pair of scoring passes from Ponder, who finished 12-of-14 with an interception.
Dustin Taliaferro completed 22-of-32 passes for 174 yards with an interception for Samford (0-1), which plays in the FCS out of the Southern Conference.
Florida State's first offensive series ended with an interception of a tipped Ponder pass inside the Samford 10-yard line, but the Seminoles came right back and marched 47 yards in six plays for a score on their next possession. Ponder keyed the set with a 22-yard pass to Thomas on 3rd-and-2 and finished it with a four-yard toss to Pryor for a 7-0 lead.
Ponder threw a 15-yard scoring pass to Bert Reed early in the second quarter to cap a five-play, 51-yard series and the Seminoles blocked a punt deep in Samford territory soon after, leading to a four-yard touchdown run by Thomas for a 21-0 cushion with 11:21 to play in the opening half.
The Seminoles continued to pile it on in the second quarter, as Greg Reid returned a punt 74 yards for a score and Ponder connected with Pryor for an eight-yard touchdown pass on the first play after an interception to make it 35-0. Ponder then finished Florida State's next offensive series with an 11- yard TD pass to Taiwan Easterling before Samford finally got on the board as the half concluded with a 41-yard field goal from Cameron Yaw.
EJ Manuel took over for Ponder to start the second half and was intercepted on Florida State's first possession. The Bulldogs converted the turnover into a 32-yard field goal from Yaw midway through the third quarter.
The Seminoles needed just two plays to answer, as Manuel threw a 14-yard pass to Reed and Jones found a huge hole in the line on the way to a 57-yard touchdown run.
Thompson's nine-yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter extended the advantage to 56-6 and Dustin Hopkins kicked a 24-yard field goal with just over 6 1/2 minutes left to account for the final margin.