1. Archive

THE BIG ONE: GAME 11: FLORIDA STATE 24, FLORIDA 21 // Florida State proves it's the 1

Published Jul. 6, 2006

@@. When it was over, thousands of fans poured over the walls. They leapt onto both goal posts. They tore up so many patches of grass that the field resembled a baseball infield.

They celebrated as if their Seminoles had never beaten the Florida Gators before. Well, they never had. At least, not when so much was at stake.

FSU's 24-21 win before a record crowd of 80,932 at Doak Campbell Stadium against No. 1-ranked Florida Nov. 30 propelled the No. 2 Seminoles to the top spot in the polls and into the Sugar Bowl.

"It will be a fairy-tale ending to my career to play in the national championship in the Sugar Bowl," said Warrick Dunn, who rushed for a career-high 185 yards. "That was one of my goals when I decided to stay for my senior year."

"Warrick was sensational," UF coach Steve Spurrier said. "He won the game for them, probably."

Well, not by himself. The FSU defense helped.

"If we didn't have the best defense in the country, we would not have won that game," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.

The Seminoles stymied the Gators by pressuring and punishing quarterback Danny Wuerffel on every play, risking _ and receiving _ penalties for late hits. They sacked him six times, taking advantage of an inexperienced offensive line, and had three interceptions. Penalties nullified two other picks.

"The only way to be sure to stop Danny Wuerffel is to make sure he's on his back with the ball," said defensive end Peter Boulware, who like fellow end Reinard Wilson, was double-teamed most of the time, which allowed interior linemen Andre Wadsworth, Connell Spain and Greg Spires to draw single coverage. That trio combined for four sacks.

"He took a beating," said Spurrier, subtly accusing the Seminoles of dirty tactics.

"They came, came hard and came often," Wuerffel said. "They got back there a bunch. My shoulders are both real sore, and my neck is sore. That's part of football, though."

Sparked by the running of Dunn and a blocked punt by Boulware, FSU jumped out to a 17-0 lead in the first quarter. But Wuerffel threw two touchdowns to Jacquez Green to bring his team to within 17-14 at the half.

"I was very surprised," Boulware said of Wuerffel's resiliency. "I was thinking, "This guy can't get up again. I'm thinking about not getting up.' But he popped up and threw another completion."

Early in the third quarter, a holding call nullified a Wuerffel-to-Anthony score. After defensive back Dexter Jackson blitzed and sacked Wuerffel on third down, the Gators were forced to settle for a field-goal attempt. But Bart Edmiston, who missed a 53-yard try in the waning seconds of the half, missed the 41-yarder wide right. In disgust, he kicked the ground and injured his leg.

Busby and Dunn then led FSU, held to a mere 33 yards of offense in the third quarter, to the decisive score. Busby completed three passes for 47 yards, including a 15-yarder to Dunn who also ran three times for 27 yards.

Aided by two pass-interference calls, the second wiping out an interception, Wuerffel hit Anthony for a score with 1:19 left. Anthony would finish with 11 catches for 193 yards. But the onside kick skipped out of bounds at midfield, and on first down Dunn zipped off right tackle for 14 yards, ensuring that the Seminoles could run out the clock. As he paused on the sideline after that run, he quietly uttered two words:

"Sugar Bowl."