TALLAHASSEE -- Less than a year after Wake Forest broke Chris Thompson’s back, he was ready to return the favor.
The Seminoles’ senior tailback, who suffered two broken vertebrae that almost ended his career, admitted during the week leading up to the game that he was still struggling with the mental effects of the hit.
Thompson had already returned to the field, had taken contact and even played meaningful snaps in a game, but the prospect of facing the team that dealt him the injury was admittedly have an effect on him.
“Just facing them after my injury — it’s a pretty emotional time for me,” Thompson admitted on Monday. “[There’s] not too much I can really say about it but honestly I’ve just been thinking about it for a while.”
On Saturday, you couldn’t tell.
Thompson exploded for 197 yards on nine first-half carries, including two 70-plus yard touchdown runs and blew the game wide open for the Seminoles well before halftime, leading them to a 52-0 victory.
“I was sitting up in the hospital bed last year [after his injury] watching him and he was actually consoling me,” coach Jimbo Fisher said. “He told me that everything was going to be alright, let alone not knowing what his future was, he [said] ‘coach, I’ll be back.’ ”
“It’s amazing, it can’t happen to a better young man, very proud for him today, very proud for our team.”
The No. 5 Seminoles, behind Thompson’s 200+ all-purpose yards, manhandled the Demon Deacons. It was the Seminoles’ first 3-0 start since 2005 and the first time they’ve gone three games without allowing a touchdown since 1967.
So far this season Florida State has outscored their opponents 176-3.
“I think there’s some things in the passing game we can clean up,” Fisher said. “But against a good solid football team, a well coached football team, [we played as well as I can remember].”
FSU quarterback E.J. Manuel was a modest 15-24 for 176 yards and two touchdowns, but the real story on offense for Florida State was Thompson and the run game.
The Seminoles racked up 385 yards on the ground as sophomore James Wilder Jr. also carried 19 times for 94 yards while Manuel added 57 yards and a touchdown of his own.
Defensively Florida State yielded next to nothing to Tanner Price and the Deacons. Wake Forest managed just 126 yards of offense, 75 of which came on two plays, and never threatened to score.
“They outplayed us early but we also lost some momentum,” Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said. “With those guys as talented as they are you’ve got to play with some momentum and we certainly didn’t have any.”
The game was 14-0 by the end of the first quarter and 38-0 by the half. Despite being upset by Wake last year, the Seminoles insist this wasn’t about payback, just business.
“They beat us last year, so it felt good to win at home and just have a great game like we did today, but we wanted to make a statement today,” senior fullback Lonnie Pryor said “Our goal is to win the ACC and hopefully win a national championship. [Wake Forest was] in the way.”
Next week, the Seminoles host No. 11 Clemson, who knocked them off last season 35-30 in Death Valley.
“We’ve won three games, we haven’t done anything,” Fisher said. “We won our first conference game, okay, we were supposed to. Now we’ve got a big conference game next week. It’s an ACC game, an interdivisional game and it’s a big time rival opponent.
“Let’s see what we do.”