Oct 11, 2003
By JOSH DUBOW
AP Football Writer
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Jarrett Payton put on his dad’s No. 34 Chicago Bears jersey before going to bed on the eve of his first college start.
He waited four years for this moment and it couldn’t have been any sweeter.
Payton caught a 14-yard touchdown pass and ran for a career-high 97 yards, and No. 2 Miami forced five turnovers in a 22-14 win Saturday over No. 5 Florida State.
“I showed people today I can play in those big games,” Payton said. “This is the most exciting day. I can’t wait to get on the bus and call my mommy.”
Payton’s performance would have made his father, Walter, proud. The Hall of Fame running back died in 1999, his son’s freshman year.
“He’s with me all the time,” Payton said. “I think he was very excited, too.”
All signs pointed toward Florida State heading into its annual showdown with Miami.
The Seminoles (5-1) had four blowout wins, a dominating defense and the home-field advantage. The Hurricanes (6-0) were missing leading rusher Frank Gore and an underdog for just the second time in 38 games.
But the Hurricanes won behind an opportunistic defense. Sean Taylor intercepted two passes, returning one 50 yards for a score, and Miami built a 22-0 lead to win for the 40th time in 41 games.
“Our motto was, ‘We’re going to come in here and punch them in the mouth,”‘ Taylor said. “And we weren’t going to stop punching them in the mouth.”
Miami didn’t need to rely on a missed field goal by Florida State this year; the Seminoles have lost four times since 1991 on a missed kick.
They made plenty of other mistakes. Florida State had a punt blocked, lost an accidental onside kick and turned the ball over five times in a stretch of seven possessions.
Instead of re-establishing itself as a national power, the Seminoles lost for the fourth straight time against the Hurricanes.
“I told the kids all week was that what will win this game are turnovers and the kicking game,” coach Bobby Bowden said. “We turned the ball over five times and had a punt blocked. That’s your story right there.”
Bowden also missed a chance to tie Penn State’s Joe Paterno with the most wins ever in Division I-A at 338.
Miami proved once again to be the best team in the state – having beaten Florida 38-33 last month – and showed it remains a major player for the national title.
The winner of this rivalry has played for the national championship 10 times since 1987, with Miami winning four titles and the Seminoles two.
“Not a lot of people actually gave us much of a chance,” Miami coach Larry Coker said. “It just says a lot about our character.”
Jon Peattie kicked three field goals, Kellen Winslow caught seven passes for 106 yards and the defense held Florida State to 61 yards rushing.
Payton gave Miami a potent running game after Gore’s season ended with a knee injury last week.
Payton’s career got off to a promising start when he ran for 262 yards as a freshman despite being distracted by the cancer that killed his father. Then a variety of injuries held him back until this year.
“Jarrett believes in himself,” Coker said. “When he’s had opportunities he’s done well with it. For him to have a day like he had today was huge for his confidence and huge for our football team.”
This year’s meeting was sloppy despite being the first matchup with both teams in the Top 5 since 1993.
Each team turned the ball over five times in the rain – even Payton fumbled once – and the offenses struggled to move the ball on a field full of puddles that Bowden called the worst his team has ever played on.
“They have the confidence and the swagger,” said Florida State quarterback Chris Rix, who threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles. “That’s something that obviously we haven’t accomplished.”
Miami’s Brock Berlin threw three interceptions, including one that set up Willie Reid’s 18-yard touchdown grab in the third quarter to make it 22-7.
On the next possession, Winslow fumbled at the end of a 39-yard reception. The Seminoles then mounted an 18-play drive that ended on Rix’s incompletion on fourth down from the 5.
Florida State’s Chris Davis had a 17-yard touchdown catch on the last play in the final meeting between the schools before Miami joins the Seminoles in the ACC next season.
The game started with a good omen for Florida State when Peattie missed a 22-yard field goal – wide left, just as Xavier Beitia did at the end of last year’s 28-27 Seminoles loss.
Nothing else went right for Florida State in the half.
“I told the kids all week was that what will win this game are turnovers and the kicking game; we turned the ball over five times and had a punt blocked. That’s your story right there.”
– Coach Bobby Bowden
On the next possession, Joel Stein got off a clean punt that was waved off because of a whistle that blew from the Miami section. Jarrell Weaver blocked the second try, setting up Peattie’s 27-yard field goal.
Brian Monroe shanked the ensuing kickoff but even that worked for Miami. Darnell Jenkins raced down the sideline and caught the pop-up kick at the 33 for a most unusual onside kick recovery. Peattie then kicked a 22-yard field goal to make it 6-0.
After Taylor’s first interception, Miami drove 75 yards, capped by Berlin’s screen pass to Payton that made it 12-0.
Late in the half, Taylor intercepted a floater from Rix, ran down the sideline and hurdled a tackler on his way into the end zone for a 19-0 lead. It was Miami’s eighth touchdown return this year.
After Rix fumbled to open the second half, Peattie kicked his third field goal.