October 24, 1998
ATLANTA, Ga. (AP) – No. 6 Florida State staked its claim to a seventh straight
Atlantic Coast Conference championship, using Peter Warrick and a dominating
defense to pull away from No. 20 Georgia Tech 34-7 Saturday night.
The Seminoles (7-1, 4-1 ACC) already had the nation’s top-ranked defense,
allowing only 214 yards per game, and actually improved their average against a
team that had scored 40 points in five straight games.
Warrick caught two touchdown passes from Chris Weinke and added a 16-yard
scoring run on a reverse. Florida State turned a close game into a rout with a
24-point fourth quarter, which included a 60-yard touchdown run by Laveranues
The Yellow Jackets (5-2, 4-1) could have taken the inside track to their
first ACC title since 1990 with a victory. Instead, they are now in a three-way
tie with Florida State and Virginia, which meet on Nov. 7 in Tallahassee.
Tech, seventh nationally with an average of 40.8 points per game, put
together an 18-play, 80-yard drive on its first possession, capped by Phillip
Rogers’ 2-yard touchdown dive.
That only seemed to fire up the Seminoles’ defense, which allowed Tech to
cross midfield only twice more the rest of the game. The Yellow Jackets,
averaging 415 yards per game, managed only 199 Saturday night.
The Seminoles are 51-2 in the ACC since joining the league in 1992,
including seven straight victories over Tech. The Yellow Jackets have been
outscored 255-30 by Florida State in the last six meetings.
Tech, trailing only 10-7, saw its hopes for an upset end with a two-play
sequence late in the third quarter. First, quarterback Joe Hamilton completed
an 11-yard pass to Mike Sheridan, giving the Yellow Jackets a first down at the
Florida State 47.
But Hamilton suffered a bruised left hip when hit after delivering the pass
and had to leave the game, replaced by redshirt freshman George Godsey. Phillip
Rogers fumbled on the next play and the Seminoles ran away from the outmanned
Yellow Jackets in the final quarter.
Warrick was one of nine Seminoles who traveled to Atlanta by bus after
Florida State’s charter flight suffered engine problems before taking off
Friday from Tallahassee. He didn’t seem bothered by the 5 1/2-hour trip, catching
six passes for 82 yards and running three times for 21.
Warrick caught his first touchdown on the final play of the first quarter,
when the Seminoles faced third-and-26 at the Tech 44. Weinke stepped away from
pressure, hooked up with his receiver cutting across the middle and Warrick
went the rest of the way down the right sideline.
Tech’s maligned defense, ranked 92nd nationally, allowed nothing else in the
half. The Seminoles helped by committing 75 yards in penalties and fumbling
three times – although they recovered all three – and Rodney Williams kept
Florida State backed up by averaging 56 yards on three punts.
The Seminoles went ahead for good on the opening possession of the second
half, driving into position for a 43-yard field goal by Sebastian Janikowski.
In the final period, Warrick caught an 8-yard touchdown pass from Weinke,
Janikowski kicked a 32-yard field goal and Warrick sealed the victory on his
touchdown run with 5:31 remaining. Coles’ long run simply made the score more
Georgia Tech lost receiver-running back Charlie Rogers to a shoulder injury
in the first quarter, and the offense was doomed when Hamilton was hurt.
However, it probably wouldn’t have mattered who was at quarterback against the
Hamilton completed only 8-of-14 passes for 56 yards, with one interception,
and he never did hook up with Dez White, who had caught six passes for a
school-record 243 yards against Virginia the previous week.
White finally caught his only pass, a 9-yarder from Godsey, with 8:39
remaining in the game.
Weinke was 17-of-26 for 208 yards and stretched his streak without an
interception to 175 passes.
By PAUL NEWBERRY
AP Sports Writer