Ponder strong in start as FSU whips W. Carolina

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- Christian Ponder threw three touchdowns passes and backup D'Vontrey Richardson ran for two more scores to lead Florida State to a 69-0 win over Western Carolina on Saturday night in a game interrupted more than two hours by lightning.

Ponder, making his first college start after throwing only 18 passes for the Seminoles, completed 11 of 17 passes for 196 yards before giving way to Richardson after the first series of the second half.

Richardson ran for a 52-yard score on his second play and moments later scored on a 7-yard run as Florida State (1-0) took a 48-0 lead early in the third quarter. He also hit Jamon Fortson with a 3-yard TD pass.

Florida State coach Bobby Bowden claimed his 374th career to win to stay abreast of Penn State's Joe Paterno as the winningest major college coach. Penn State beat Oregon State earlier Saturday.

With more than a dozen players, including several starters, sitting out suspensions for either academic or disciplinary reasons, 28 freshmen played for the Seminoles and two scored touchdowns -- Fortson and Jermaine Thomas, who ran for two TDs.

Western Carolina (1-1) trailed by only a touchdown, 7-0, midway through the second quarter before surrendering three quick touchdowns in the final 6:54 of the half.

Tony Carter's 68-yard punt return 1:49 into the game spotted the unranked Seminoles a quick lead, but the game was stopped after the point-after kick for 55 minutes and Ponder and the offense seemed out of sync when the game first resumed.

The 6-foot-2, 218-pound Ponder, who beat out incumbent starter Drew Weatherford for the starting job this fall, shook off a sluggish start and completed seven of 10 passes for 123 yards in the second quarter. In the period, he teamed with Bert Reed on a 41-yard scoring pass and then hit Corey Surrency with a 7-yard TD throw to give the Seminoles a 28-0 at the break.

On Florida State's opening drive of the second half, Ponder hit 6-6 Greg Carr with a 54-yard scoring pass as the Seminoles took a 35-0 lead.

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.

Florida State is 3-0 against the outgunned Catamounts -- a member of the NCAA's Football Championship Subdivision formerly known as I-AA -- outscoring the Southern Conference school by an aggregate 175-20.