8:00 PM ET, August 30, 2003
Kenan Stadium, Chapel Hill, NC
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) -- Florida State returned to the scene of its worst regular-season loss in 16 years and had little trouble this time.
Chris Rix ran for a pair of short touchdowns and threw for another score as the 13th-ranked Seminoles built a 27-point halftime lead and cruised to a season-opening 37-0 victory over North Carolina on Saturday night.
The Florida State offense, dominated by its defense in spring and fall scrimmages, rolled up 301 yards and 18 first downs in the opening 30 minutes to build a nice working margin.
Rix had four turnovers in an embarrassing 41-9 loss to the Tar Heels here in 2001 -- his third career start and the program's most lopsided regular-season loss since Auburn beat the Seminoles 59-27 in 1985.
But two years later, Rix secured his spot as FSU's starting quarterback by playing a near flawless game in jam-packed Kenan Stadium. He completed 11 of his first 12 passes with a pair of 1-yard scoring runs in the opening half and a 7-yard TD pass late in the third quarter.
The junior finished 17-of-26 for 232 yards as Bobby Bowden won his 333rd game while improving to 26-2 in openers at FSU.
North Carolina showed its fans little improvement on defense -- the team's sore spot during last year's 3-9 record.
The Seminoles' game plan was to spread out the Tar Heels and use their speed. It worked from the start as Rix was able to hit receivers or running backs with early swing passes or short routes that turned into big gains.
Florida State averaged 10.4 yards a play in the first quarter as Greg Jones, coming off knee surgery, scored on a 5-yard run to open the scoring. Less than two minutes later, a 43-yard pass by Rix set up his first short keeper.
Freshman Lorenzo Booker, a nice complement to the powerful Jones, showed off his speed and cutback ability on the first play of the second quarter, racing 21 yards for his first career TD and a 21-0 lead.
Rix then capped a 79-yard drive 1:08 before halftime with a 1-yard sneak.
Florida State's new offensive line looked impressive as the Seminoles rushed for 236 yards.
"Even though this was our first game we felt it was a statement game,'' Jones said.
The highlight of the ground attack came late in the first quarter when Jones bulled over all-ACC defensive back Dexter Reid when he lowered his shoulder, knocking off Reid's helmet at the tail end of a 21-yard rush.
North Carolina's only scoring chance of the first half came on field goal attempts, but Dan Orner was wide right from 51 and 37 yards.
The loss was the Tar Heels' seventh straight at Kenan Stadium, tying a school record for consecutive home defeats set in 1987-88.
Florida State's deep running back corps was dealt a blow when Leon Washington was lost with a right elbow injury while returning a punt in the first quarter.