Raleigh, NC – Raleigh, NC (SportsNetwork.com) - Top-ranked Florida State survived a scare last week without its reigning Heisman Trophy winner.
The Seminoles' unblemished record, which includes the nation's longest active winning streak, was in doubt again on Saturday.
This time, however, Jameis Winston made sure it stayed intact.
Winston threw for 365 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions to lead Florida State to a 56-41 win over upset-minded North Carolina State at Carter-Finley Stadium.
The signal caller was suspended for last week's 23-17 overtime victory against then-No. 22 Clemson due to an inappropriate comment made in the student union. Backup Sean McGuire, making his first collegiate start, took over in Winston's absence and led the 'Noles to the tense home victory.
Florida State has now won 20 straight dating back to its last setback against then-No. 6 Florida on Nov. 24, 2012.
Karlos Williams had 126 yards on 21 carries with three touchdowns and Rashad Greene hauled in 11 passes for 125 yards and a score for the Seminoles (4-0, 2-0 ACC), who have won 16 straight games in conference.
"We made enough mistakes in all three phases tonight," FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. "We're still not playing the football that we're capable of, which at times is frustrating, but is also very encouraging. We're finding ways to win games and we are getting better."
Jesus Wilson had six receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns in the win.
Jacoby Brissett converted 32-of-48 passes for 359 yards and three touchdowns for the Wolfpack (4-1, 0-1), while Shadrach Thornton accounted for 85 yards rushing and two touchdowns.
"I'm proud of Jacoby Brissett. He played his heart out and made some great plays out there tonight. It was a great effort. We just didn't make some plays in the fourth that we needed to. I'm proud of our guys though. Now, we have to get back to work and get ready for Clemson," NC State coach Dave Doeren said.
For the first time in program history, in their 769th game, the Seminoles allowed 24 points in a first quarter and trailed 24-21 at halftime.
Florida State opened the second half with the ball and following a roughing the passer penalty, Winston threw behind tightend Nick O'Leary, who tipped the pass right into the arms of Jerod Fernandez. Brissett made the turnover count as he tossed a 10-yard touchdown across the middle to Matt Dayes for a 31-21 lead.
Winston then led a 9-play, 81-yard drive that spanned nearly 4 1/2 minutes. Greene hauled in passes of 12 and 17 yards during the march, then Dalvin Cook followed a pair of solid runs from Williams by racing up the middle for a 19- yard touchdown to trim the deficit back to three.
Florida State's defense held stout, but another costly turnover on the ensuing punt led to more points for the Wolfpack. Greene muffed the punt at the Seminoles 27 and Malcolm Means recovered. Three plays later, Thornton extended the lead to 38-28 by busting up the middle for a 10-yard score.
On the following Seminoles drive, Travis Rudolph took a swing pass on the far sideline for his first career reception, broke a couple of tackles and sprinted into NC State territory on a 40-yard gain. Winston's next pass to Rudolph in the end zone fell incomplete, but Wilson caught a Winston offering on the next play and dove into the end zone for a 15-yard TD.
It was then Florida State's turn to force a turnover, and it led to its first lead of the game. Brissett was sacked by Derrick Nnadi and the ball came loose, rolling 17 yards back to the Wolfpack 6. Jacob Pugh recovered and it took two plays for Greene to push the visitors in front, 42-38, with a 4-yard TD reception wiht 3:24 left in the third.
After another NC State punt, Cook took a handoff for 35 yards up to midfield. Greene then made two receptions, one of 11 yards and another of 13, which set up Williams' 1-yard plunge into the end zone to extend the margin to 49-38 with 12:23 remaining in the fourth.
As momentum clearly shifted across to the visiting sideline, Brissett led a drive deep into FSU territory until the Seminoles defense was opportunistic once again. On the 14th play of the drive at the Seminoles 13, Jalen Ramsey stormed in from the blindside and forced a fumble that Giorgio Newberry recovered.
Following the turnover, Winston threw into traffic and Fernandez came up with his second interception of the game, returning it to the Florida State 11. NC State couldn't punch it in, though, as Niklas Sade connected on a 26-yard field goal to trim the deficit to 49-41 with just over six minutes left.
Winston bolted for 20 yards on 3rd-and-11 on the Seminoles' next touch, and Williams followed with a 28-yard run. The tailback capped the drive and the game with his 12-yard scoring run with 2:07 remaining.
Both teams got out to a fast start offensively, as NC State opened the scoring in just 18 seconds. Brissett hit David Grinnage for 21 yards on the first play from scrimmage, then Bo Hines caught a wide-open pass right up the seam before bolting into the end zone for a 54-yard score.
Florida State answered with a swift drive of its own. Winston opened with a swing pass to Williams for 19 yards and converted a 9-yard pass to Christian Green on 3rd-and-5 to reach the Wolfpack 22. An illegal block penalty put Florida State in a tough 3rd-and-20 attempt, but Winston came through with a 32-yard TD strike to Wilson.
The Wolfpack figured to use a more methodical approach on their second touch, driving 75 yards over 13 plays with Thornton rushing for a 3-yard touchdown to cap the jaunt.
NC State parlayed the momentum from its offense to the defensive side of the ball, as Winston was stripped on a sack by T.Y. McGill and Monty Nelson was there to recover at the FSU 21. The turnover resulted in a 36-yard field goal by Sade for a 17-7 lead.
The Seminoles went backward on their ensuing possession, and Brissett made an unbelievable play to push the hosts in front by three scores. Brissett hit Grinnage along the near sideline and the tight end lumbered for 45 yards to the Florida State 12. Three plays later, Brissett was originally hit by Ramsey in the pocket, bounced outside only to be grabbed by DeMarcus Walker. The Wolfpack signal caller then wiggled out of Walker's grasp, continued to roll toward the far sideline and hit Johnathan Alston for an 8-yard TD.
Winston and Florida State quelled the surge with a 10-play, 82-yard march that Williams capped with a 4-yard TD run early in the second quarter.
After a three-and-out, Greene returned a short punt 20 yards to the NC State 22. The Seminoles didn't wait long to score as Winston hooked up with Green on a 22-yard score to cut the deficit to 24-21.
NC State fell to 0-4 against AP No.1 teams ... It was the first time the Wolfpack hosted a team ranked at No. 1 ... FSU leads the all-time series 24-11 ... The Seminoles hadn't allowed a point in the first quarter in any of their first three games until Saturday ... Florida State went 8-for-11 on third down, while NC State converted 7-of-16 ... Hines finished with eight receptions for 103 yards.