CLEMSON, SC - Tommy Bowden nearly upset the Bowden family reunion Saturday night at Death Valley.
With nearly every Bowden pulling for his father Bobby Bowden, No. 1 Florida State rallied to defeat Clemson, 17-14, and keep the elder Bowden's shot at a second national championship alive.
Down by 11 at the half, Florida State shut down Clemson's offense the rest of the game. The Seminoles scored in the second half on a field goal by Sebastian Janikowski and a run by Travis Minor to tie the game 14-14.
Janikowski then kicked the winning field goal with 5:26 left in the game.
"You ran out of tricks," Bobby Bowden told his son as they met at midfield.
Clemson had a 14-3 lead at the end of the first half. With some trickery and some slick running by quarterback Woody Dantzler, the Tigers energized a record crowd of 86,200 at Death Valley.
Clemson scored two touchdowns against a stiff breeze that Florida State had trouble against in the first quarter.
However, Florida State stopped Clemson's offense cold in the second half.
Clemson still had a chance to tie the game on a 41-yard field goal attempt by Tony Lazzara. Florida State's Tay Cody came in untouched from the left side and got a piece of the ball and it fluttered harmlessly toward the endzone, short of the goal posts.
"I came off the end free," Cody said. "Nobody got a hand on me. I was fortunate enough to get a hand on the ball. Our season depended on it."
Tommy Bowden said he thought about going for the first down but wasn't convinced that his offense could have moved the ball any further, anyway.
"We had only been across the 50 one time in the second half," he said. "I don't think we could have scored for that reason because they have so many guns to come at you with. I at least wanted a chance to kick a field goal, but Florida State was playing too good and too hard and I think that next time I would probably go for the first down."
In the first quarter, Florida State struggled against the wind. Chris Weinke's passes struggled to fly into the wind and Florida State tried to mix in a reverse. Peter Warrick was caught ten yards behind the line of scrimmage on Florida State's second drive.
After a bad punt against the wind by Florida State gave Clemson the ball at the FSU 46, Clemson couldn't convert.
On fourth-and-9 at the Florida State 29, Dantzler attempted a pass toward Travis Zachary. Zachary was well short of the first down and the pass sailed over his head.
The Seminoles adjusted to the wind on their third drive. Weinke completed passes of 11 and 13 yards to Warrick on an 10-play, 55-yard drive that ended with a 33-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski with 3:43 left in the first quarter.
Woody Dantzler hit Rod Gardner with a 7-yard touchdown pass with 6:17 left in the first half to give Clemson a 7-3 lead with 6:17 left in the first half.
The drive covered 72 yards in 16 plays. On fourth-and-13 at the FSU 46, punter Ryan Romano ran to his right then threw back across the field to Braxton Williams, who was wide open. Williams took the ball to the FSU 23. Six plays later, Dantzler hit Gardner with the touchdown pass.
Clemson struck again on its next drive. Dantzler dove over from 1 yard out to give Clemson a 14-3 lead with 2:09 let in the half.
Dantzler completed a 49-yard pass to Mal Lawyer on the first play of the drive. Dantzler completed another pass to Gardner, a 15-yarder on third-and-6, that gave Clemson a first down at the FSU 12. Four plays later Dantzler dove over the line for the touchdown.
Dantzler was intercepted with 58 seconds left in the half and it appeared that the Seminoles would be able to cut into the lead late in the half. Florida State took over the ball at the Clemson 46 and drove to the Clemson 37 with seven seconds left. Instead of taking a shot at a field goal, Wienke threw a pass toward the end zone that was intercepted by Dextra Polite to end the half.