“Overtime II” was a smash hit for Florida State, which made sure the sequel to its memorable regular-season tie with Florida didn’t begin or end like the original.
The Seminoles beat their arch rivals 23-17 Monday night in the Sugar Bowl with a ballcontrol offense and stingy defense that held the high-scoring Gators to a season-low point total.
FSU won the highly anticipated rematch that game officials promoted as a fourquarter overtime by building on confidence restored during a 28-point comeback for a 31-31 standoff with the Gators on Nov. 26.
“It seemed like we dominated a little more than I thought we would,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. “It was closer than it should have been - if we had capitalized on all our opportunities.”
Florida State took its NCAA-record 10th consecutive bowl victory. The Seminoles haven’t lost a postseason game since the 1981 Orange Bowl, and the only non-victory during the team’s streak of 13 consecutive postseason appearances was a 17-17 tie against Georgia in the 1984 Citrus Bowl.
Danny Kanell, who engineered the improbable rally from a 31-3 deficit in the earlier meeting, threw for 252 yards and one touchdown. Halfback Warrick Dunn threw a 73-yard scoring pass to ‘OMar Ellison, and Dan Mowrey kicked three field goals for the No. 7 Seminoles (10-1-1).
Florida (10-2-1) scored on Judd Davis’ field goal and Ike Hilliard’s Sugar Bowl-record 82-yard pass reception in the first half. But it was shut out after that until Danny Wuerffel scored on a controversial quarterback sneak to trim a 13-point deficit to six with 3:47 to go.
The fifth-ranked Gators averaged 43.4 points per game during the regular season and their victory over Alabama in the Southeastern Conference championship game. However, Florida State forced three turnovers and stopped the high-powered attack twice on downs inside the Seminoles’ 30.
Wuerffel was 28 of 39 for a Sugar Bowl-record 394 yards and one TD before throwing an interception that killed any hopes for a comeback with little more than a minute left.
Kanell was 23 of 40 for Florida State as the teams combined for 774 yards passing. Dunn had 182 all-purpose yards, rushing for 58 on 14 carries and catching nine passes for 51, in addition to his TD pass to Ellison.
“Warrick Dunn was our ace in the hole, like he has been all season,” Bowden said of the sophomore, who grew up in nearby Baton Rouge, La.
Two missed field goals by Mowrey - one from 26 yards and the other from 36 - prevented Florida State from putting the game away until the final 2 minutes.
“They outplayed us and deserved to win,” said Florida coach Steve Spurrier.
Florida St. 23, Florida 17 Florida St. 3 17 3 0 - 23 Florida 3 7 0 7 - 17
First quarter FSUFG Mowrey 21, 7:40.
Fla-FG J.Davis 22, 11:03.
Second quarter FSUEllison 73 pass from Dunn (Mowrey kick), :35.
FSUMcCorvey 16 pass from Kanell (Mowrey kick), 7:13.
Fla-Hilliard 82 pass from Wuerffel (J.Davis kick), 8:53.
FSUFG Mowrey 24, 14:24.
Third quarter FSUFG Mowrey 45, 1:03.
Fla-Wuerffel 1 run (J.Davis kick), 11:13.
FSU Fla First downs 21 23 Rushes-yards 30-76 29-5 Passing 325 449 Return Yards 15 9 Comp-Att-Int 24-41-0 30-43-1 Punts 4-39 3-46 Fumbles-Lost 0-0 2-2 Penalties-Yards 7-62 8-57 Time of Possession 27:56 32:04
RUSHINGFlorida St., Dunn 14-58, Z.Crockett 5-19, Preston 4-4, McMillon 1-1, Kanell 6-(minus 6). Florida, Williams 10-27, Taylor 8-18, Kresser 1-(minus 7), Anthony 1-(minus 10), Wuerffel 9-(minus 23).
PASSINGFlorida St., Kanell 23-40-0-252, Dunn 1-1-0-73. Florida, Wuerffel 28-39-1-394, Kresser 1-2-0-3, Williams 0-1-0-0, Anthony 1-1-0-52.
RECEIVINGFlorida St., Dunn 9-51, Ellison 4-102, McCorvey 4-84, E.G.Green 4-74, Messam 1-12, Preston 1-4, Z.Crockett 1-(minus 2). Florida, Anthony 8-57, J.Jackson 6-128, Hilliard 3-119, Doering 3-47, Hill 3-34, Taylor 3-33, Williams 3-14, Bilkie 1-17.
MISSED FIELD GOALSFSU, Mowrey 26, 36. Fla., J.Davis 47.
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