CLEMSON - For the first time in over a decade Florida State did not beat
Clemson in Tallahasse. Thursday night, the Tigers beat themselves.
Clemson's special teams play, seemingly getting better after the
season-opening mistake-fest at Georgia, outright imploded Thursday in the
48-31 defeat. Special teams gaffes led directly to 31 Seminole points,
offsetting a night in which the Tigers' offense exorcised many a demon at
Doak Campbell Stadium.
"We were fortunate to win the doggone ball game," said FSU head coach Bobby
Bowden, now 4-0 against son Tommy. "We keep talking about family, but this
game really hurt. I had to win the stinking game, and I had to whip him to do
"He needs to win it, too...I'm glad that I won, and I gave everything I had
to do it, but it's no fun to whip your son."
There was no one facet of the special teams play that broke down. Clemson was
able to spread the misery evenly by:
- Fumbling away a punt snap, a punt and a kickoff, which lead to two
touchdowns and a field goal;
- Allowing a 97-yard kickoff return to Leon Washington;
- Giving up a 50-yard kickoff return to Talman Gardner which set up another
short FSU touchdown drive.
By the time it was over, Clemson's (3-2, 1-1 Atlantic Coast Conference)
defense had been on the field for so long in the second half that FSU
tailback Greg Jones (22 carries, 165 yards, 3 TDs) made a mockery of its
tackling on a 21-yard touchdown run that punctuated the Seminoles' victory.
That score was set up when Jackie Robinson fumbled a kickoff following a
22-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia with 9:21 to go, which put FSU (5-1, 4-0
ACC) on top 41-31.
Jones' score made it 48-31 with 7:26 remaining, and Clemson could get no
Earlier in the half, Beitia kicked another 22-yard field goal made possible
when an FSU punt deflected off the foot of Travis Pugh, bounced to Derrick
Hamilton, who then fumbled the ball away in traffic.
"There is just no excuse," Tommy Bowden said. "A fumbled kickoff return, we
let them return a kickoff. Yes, we thought we solved our problems, because
those things hadn't happened since the first game."
The special teams carnage started on the game's first possession.
Punter Wynn Kopp dropped the snap on Clemson's punt attempt and was tackled
for a loss at his own 18. Florida State immediately capitalized on the
mistake, running three straight times to cover the 18 yards. Rix capped off
the short drive with a 1-yard plunge for the game's first score.
Later, trailing 14-7, Gardner returned a Clemson kickoff 50 yards to the
Tigers' 44, and would have scored had it not been for a touchdown-saving
tackle by kicker Stephen Furr.
Furr's tackle only served to momentarily stop the Seminoles, who drove the 44
yards in five plays and scored on Greg Jones' 20-yard run to tie the game at
After Aaron Hunt's field goal put the Tigers ahead 17-14 with 6:20 left in
the half, Washington returned the ensuing kickoff 97 yards for a go-ahead
"Special teams, missed tackles and defense," Tommy Bowden said. "We couldn't
tackle (Jones). We didn't have anybody to tackle him."
Clemson, which had been outscored by an average of 42-2 in its last five
games in Tallahassee, exploited Florida State's secondary in an impressive
Quarterback Willie Simmons completed 13-of-20 passes in the half for two
a 28-yarder to Airese Currie in the first quarter and a nine-yard strike off
a nice scramble to Derrick Hamilton in the second.
Simmons, in his first start in the shadow of his Quincy, Fla. hometown,
finished the night 17-of-27 for a career-high 293 yards with the two
touchdowns and two interceptions. One of the picks came off a pass dropped by
receiver Kevin Youngblood. He also rushed for 50 yards on 13 carries.
"(Simmons) did a really good job," Tommy Bowden said. "He made some deep
throws where he gave them the opportunity to catch the ball. The receivers
made some great catches, but he at least gave them a chance to do it. He was
very accurate with his throws and made some critical throws."
Hamilton also played a starring role for the Tigers, finishing the night with
248 all-purpose yards and the touchdown pass.
"Ya'll seen a better player than (Hamilton)?," Bobby Bowden said. "He's
amazing. And if we don't straighten out those long passes, it's over. Playing
Miami and Notre Dame (next), we need to get things together."
Yusef Kelly scored on a pair of short touchdown runs (2, 9) for Clemson's
FSU 7, CU 0
Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 18 yards in 1:08.
Scoring Play: Rix's 1-yard run at 11:37.
Key Play: Dropped punt snap by CU's Wynn Kopp, giving FSU ball at CU 18.
CU 7, FSU 7
Scoring Drive: 2 plays, 39 yards in :26.
Scoring Play: Simmons' 28-yard pass to Currie at 5:29.
Key Play: Hamilton's 46-yard punt return to the FSU 39.
CU 14, FSU 7
Scoring Drive: 5 plays, 49 yards in 2:11.
Scoring Play: Kelly's 2-yard run at 3:13.
Key Play: Simmons' 41-yard pass to Hall to the FSU 3-yard line.
CU 14, FSU 14
Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 44 yards in 3:07.
Scoring Play: Jones' 20-yard run at 14:52.
Key Play: Rix's 19-yard pass to Gardner to the CU 27 on third-and-12.
CU 17, FSU 14
Scoring Drive: 8 plays, 62 yards in 2:45.
Scoring Play: Hunt's 20-yard field goal at 6:20.
Key Play: Elliott's 41-yard reverse pass to McKelvey to the FSU 3-yard line.
FSU 21, CU 17
Leon Washington returns kickoff 97 yards for TD (6:02).
CU 24, FSU 21
Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 86 yards in 1:25.
Scoring Play: Simmons' 9-yard pass to Hamilton at :27.
Key Play: Simmons' 59-yard completion to McKelvey to the FSU 9.
FSU 28, CU 24
Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 69 yards in :17.
Scoring Play: Rix's 5-yard pass to Gardner at :06.
Key Play: Jones' 64-yard run to the CU 5.
FSU 35, CU 24
Scoring Drive: 6 plays, 45 yards in 2:15.
Scoring Play: Jones' 1-yard run at 8:57.
Key Play: Rix's 18-yard pass to Thorpe to the CU 3.
FSU 35, CU 31
Scoring Drive: 2 plays, 51 yards in :28.
Scoring Play: Kelly's 9-yard run at 4:03.
Key Play: Simmons' 42-yard pass to Hamilton to the FSU 9.
FSU 38, CU 31
Scoring Drive: 4 plays, 7 yards in 1:32.
Scoring Play: Beitia's 22-yard field goal at 1:20.
Key Play: Fumbled punt by Hamilton gives FSU ball first-and-10 at CU 11.
FSU 41, CU 31
Scoring Drive: 14 plays, 65 yards in 5:39.
Scoring Play: Beitia's 22-yard field goal at 9:21.
Key Play: Rix's pass to Boldin for 24 yards to the CU 5 on third-and-15.
FSU 48, CU 31
Scoring Drive: 3 plays, 31 yards in 1:42.
Scoring Play: Jones' 21-yard run at 7:26.
Key Play: Robinson's fumble on kickoff giving FSU possession at CU 31.