Nov. 12, 2005
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) – Charlie Whitehurst’s shoulder still hurt this week. But the Clemson quarterback was not going to miss senior day and a chance to beat Florida State.
After taking a shot to numb his throwing shoulder, Whitehurst threw for 269 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Tigers (6-4, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) over the No. 17 Seminoles 35-14 Saturday.
Whitehurst went 21-of-32 a week after resting his sore shoulder and Chansi Stuckey had 11 catches for 156 yards and two TDs for Clemson.
The win gave Clemson coach Tommy Bowden his second win over dad Bobby in their last three games.
“Tommy just blew us out today,” Bobby Bowden said. “I’m real proud of him, but that doesn’t help me.”
The Seminoles (7-3, 5-3) gained just 226 yards as they lost for the second game in a row and the third time in their last five. They have lost three games in the ACC for the first time since joining the league in 1992.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve been beaten like this,” the elder Bowden said.
It just wasn’t Whitehurst and the Clemson offense. Florida State’s only touchdown came on a blocked punt.
The Seminoles came into Saturday with the ACC’s top passing offense at 309 yards a contest, but the Tigers put pressure on the Seminoles’ freshmen quarterbacks all game, getting six sacks and leaving little time for receivers to get open. Starter Drew Weatherford was 12-of-27 for 117 yards and two interceptions, while Xavier Lee, who entered the game in the fourth quarter, was 1-of-7 for seven yards.
“We’re supposed to be getting better as the season goes on and we’re not doing that,” said Weatherford, who said injuries to several offensive linemen have really hurt Florida State.
Whitehurst showed no ill effects from taking last week off, completing six of eight passes for 100 yards in Clemson’s first two drives as the Tigers took a 14-0 lead.
“I didn’t feel it then,” Whitehurst said of his injured shoulder. “But I can feel it now. It’s going to hurt.”
A blocked punt recovered for a touchdown and two field goals helped Florida State tie it at 14 at the half, but the Tigers defense took over in the third quarter.
Both Bowdens said the turning point was the first of Weatherford’s two third-quarter interceptions. On the first possession after halftime, Michael Hamlin picked off Weatherford at the Clemson 33, ending one of Florida State’s best drives of the game.
The Tigers marched right back down the field, taking a 21-14 lead on Stuckey’s 32-yard TD catch from Whitehurst.
As Weatherford continued to struggle, Clemson added an 8-yard scoring run by James Davis and a 4-yard touchdown catch by Aaron Kelly to put the game away. The win made the Tigers bowl-eligible for the seventh straight year.
Bobby Bowden changed quarterbacks in the fourth quarter, but Lee couldn’t get his team going either, with his receivers dropping at least two sure catches as the clock wound down.
The Bowden Bowl started in 1999 as a fun family reunion. Now, both coaches say it’s an ordeal that guarantees someone named Bowden is going to leave with fans sniping at him.
Once again, it will be Bobby Bowden. And for the second time in the last three meetings, the Seminoles will have lost a game in which they entered as heavy favorites. Two years ago, some fans grumbled that he lost to Clemson to help save his son’s job. This year they’ll want to know why Florida State has been held under 230 total yards in two straight ACC losses.
“I’m not worried about anything. I’m too old to worry,” said Bowden, who turned 76 this week. “Now, concerned,” he said, smiling and his voice trailing off.
Tommy Bowden didn’t want to talk about beating his dad, instead concentrating on what the win meant for his team and their efforts to join the ACC elite.
“I think maybe this shows a closing of the gap,” he said.
Whitehurst, who before Saturday called his first win over Florida State one of the highlights of his career, said the win in 2003 felt lucky, while this one felt more like one team dominating the other.
“We were more intense,” Whitehurst said. “We came out and hit them right in the mouth.”