Nov. 20, 2004
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – This one was for The Zooker.
Chris Leak threw a touchdown, Ciatrick Fason ran for a score and Florida
upset No. 10 Florida State 20-13 Saturday night to win in Tallahassee for the
first time since 1986.
It also gave fired coach Ron Zook a victory in his final regular-season
Condemned since the day he replaced Steve Spurrier, Zook finally did
something the ol’ ball coach didn’t in his 12 glorious seasons with the Gators
– he won at Florida State.
The players carried Zook off the field, and the coach flashed a big smile
that had been missing for much of his three seasons.
The Gators (7-4) ended any legitimate chance the Seminoles had of earning a
third straight Bowl Championship Series berth. Florida State (8-3) still could
finish tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference title but would likely lose all
tiebreaker scenarios because of their BCS ranking, which is expected to drop
Florida also spoiled a special night for longtime Seminoles coach Bobby
Bowden. Before the game, the school named its playing surface “Bobby Bowden
Field” and unveiled a 20-by-30 foot stained glass window at the stadium
featuring Bowden’s likeness.
Spurrier – who was 0-5-1 in six trips to Tallahassee – must have loved the
The Gators threw with relative ease against Florida State’s vaunted defense.
Leak finished 19-for-39 with an interception.
Fason’s 8-yard touchdown run with 4:59 remaining put the Gators ahead for
It was almost a redemption story, though.
Embattled Florida State quarterback Chris Rix came off the bench and threw a
touchdown pass with 8:30 to play that cut the lead to 13-10.
He rolled right and heaved a pass into the end zone that Chauncey Stovall
caught over Vernell Brown. The pass was reminiscent of Rix’s 52-yard touchdown
pass to P.K. Sam with 55 seconds remaining last season that gave the Seminoles
a 38-34 win.
Rix also drove the Seminoles to the 18-yard line in the waning seconds, but
his last pass was intercepted by Jarvis Harris with 8 seconds to play.
Florida players then grabbed a bucket of water and drenched Zook. They
quickly surrounded him and started jumping up and down as they hoisted him into
the air and carried him toward midfield. After he shook hands with Bowden and
did a few interviews, the players raised him up again and carried him off.
Zook pumped his right fist and then held the game ball up high as he excited
into a tunnel.
He hasn’t said whether he’s going to coach the bowl game.
Rix, who entered Saturday’s game late in the third quarter, drove the
Seminoles into field goal range on his first possession. But Gary Cismesia
missed a 32-yarder. Cismesia, who had been perfect in seven tries since
replacing senior Xavier Beitia midway through the season, also missed from 39
yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.
Beitia got the call after the second miss and nailed a career-high 52-yard
field goal with 3:48 remaining that made it a seven-point game.
Zook – with nothing to lose since he was fired last month – made a gutsy
call with 2:35 to play and gambled on fourth-and-inches from the Florida 26.
Had the play failed, the Seminoles would have been in great position to tie the
But Leak got the first down on a quarterback keeper. They eventually were
forced to punt, but the time taken off the clock left little left for the
Seminoles to score.