Oct. 9, 2004
By JOHN KEKIS
AP Sports Writer
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) – Leon Washington rushed for a career-high 164 yards and
scored on runs of 21 and 45 yards in the second half, and No. 8 Florida State
survived a major scare, rallying past Syracuse 17-13 on Saturday night.
It was the third game against a ranked team for Syracuse (3-3), and unlike
the previous two – a 51-0 loss at No. 9 Purdue and a 31-10 loss at No. 10
Virginia – the Orange made it difficult for the Seminoles (4-1) and quarterback
Wyatt Sexton, who was making his first road start.
Syracuse wasted two brilliant plays by safety Diamond Ferri. He put the
Orange in terrific scoring position twice – with a fumble return and an
interception – and they failed to score both times.
Against Florida State, that is a recipe for disaster, and the tide began to
turn late in the third quarter with Syracuse clinging to a 10-3 lead.
Last week Sexton was 20-for-31 for 193 yards and three TDs in a win over
North Carolina in his first career start. Against the Orange, he was 15-for-26
for 169 yards and maintained his poise in the face of a raucous Carrier Dome
Sexton kept his passes short for most of the game. But he opened up with
time winding down in the third, putting Syracuse on its heels with a 24-yard
completion to Craphonso Thorpe and a 12-yarder to Chauncey Stovall.
Facing a third-and-2 at the Syracuse 21, Washington scored on a run around
the right side to tie it 10 with 2:41 left. It was the only third-down
conversion of the game for the Seminoles.
The Orange went nowhere after the ensuing kickoff and the Seminoles struck
again in only 34 seconds. Sexton hit Thorpe with a 15-yard sideline pass and on
the next play Washington made a nifty cut between two blocks and scored
untouched on a 45-yard run down the left side with 13:29 left in the game to
make it 17-10.
Syracuse closed to 17-13 on a 39-yard field goal by Collin Barber with 10
minutes left and drove to the Florida State 30 in the final minute. But
linebacker Sam McGrew intercepted Perry Patterson’s pass with 5 seconds left to
Patterson, who was brilliant in the first half, sputtered in the second and
finished 19-for-28 for a career-high 207 yards. And with his passes not
connecting, the Orange couldn’t come back against the Seminoles defense.
Florida State held Syracuse to only 58 yards rushing a week after the Orange
ran for 360 yards against Rutgers. Walter Reyes, who rushed for 237 yards last
week, was held to 27 on 14 carries.
Syracuse took the opening kickoff and drove to the Florida State 30 before
the drive stalled, and Barber kicked a 44-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead. Wide
receiver Landel Bembo, who grew up in the shadow of Doak Campbell Stadium in
Tallahassee and always wanted to be a Seminole, keyed the drive with a 32-yard
run off a reverse.
The Seminoles tied it on Xavier Beitia’s 28-yard field goal with 1:04 left
in the first. The fired-up Orange defense, which limited the Seminoles to 75
yards passing and 76 rushing in the first half, held after Florida State moved
to a first-and-10 at the Syracuse 11-yard line.
After the ensuing kickoff, a roughing-the-passer penalty against the
Seminoles gave Syracuse a first down just past midfield, and Patterson quickly
took advantage, hitting Jared Jones with a 44-yard touchdown pass.
Unlike last week, when he overthrew several wide-open receivers before
rallying Syracuse past Rutgers, Patterson was nearly flawless in the first
half, going 10-for-12 for 145 yards and his third career TD pass.
Syracuse led 10-3 at halftime, and the lead could have been larger. Ferri
ripped the ball out of Lorenzo Booker’s hands at the Syracuse 25 and returned
it 30 yards, but Barber missed wide right on a 42-yard field goal try with 4:53
left in the second.
After Florida State went three and out, Patterson hit Andre Fontenette for
33 yards and Reyes gained another 24 on a screen pass. But three plays later
Reyes fumbled on a first-and-goal play from the 5 and Bryant McFadden recovered
for Florida State.
Syracuse missed another great opportunity at the start of the second half.
The Seminoles drove to midfield, but Ferri intercepted a pass over the middle
and returned it 45 yards to the Florida State 23. When the Orange offense
faltered, Barber missed wide left on a 37-yard field goal, this one from 37
yards. Barber was 7-for-9 entering the game, and both misses had come from
beyond 40 yards.
Beitia also missed a 38-yard field goal try on the Seminoles’ next