By Bob Thomas
Associate Sports Information Director
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Florida State quarterback Sean Maguire was quick to thank the fans who were chanting his name during pre-game warmups for putting him at ease before making his first start against No. 22 Clemson Saturday night.
“I was nervous in the hotel and once I got out there during warmups and heard the fans – it was hard not to hear them chanting my name – once I knew that they supported me, I was, ‘Good, I feel good now.’”
Maguire was solid in his starting debut, passing for 305 yards and the game-tying touchdown – a 74-yard strike to Rashad Greene with 6:04 to play – in the Seminoles 23-17 overtime victory.
A pair of interceptions aside, the redshirt sophomore handled his moment in the spotlight deftly, from his 15 of 22 second half performance to his postgame interview. He thanked his coaches, the Seminole defense, his teammates and the guy he replaced – suspended starter Jameis Winston – for getting him through the final stages of a wild 72-hour stretch.
“Football is probably the greatest team sport,” Maguire said. “Coach [Jimbo Fisher] always prepares us if one man goes down – it just happened to be our best player this time. I can’t thank the coaches and this team enough. It was awesome.”
And he was especially appreciative of the defense, which came to his rescue after a late interception that set the Tigers up deep in Seminole territory, then came through with a fourth down stop in overtime.
“They were phenomenal in the second half,” Maguire said of the defense. “The fumble down in the red zone and fourth-and-one stop in overtime – I don’t think you could get two bigger plays from the defense. They were awesome. I give them all the credit in the world.”
But give Maguire a little credit as well. He didn’t wilt despite being sacked three times and hurried three more in the first half by a hell-bent Clemson defense. In the process, he became the first Seminole back-up quarterback to start – and win – in the last four tries.
His teammates were clearly appreciative.
“I saw a guy who was determined to lead his team to victory; to give all he had to us, our team and organization,” Greene said. “I tip my hat to that guy for the way he stepped up and most of all the way he prepared in two days. It was tremendous.”
So was his coach.
“Sean had a chance to step up, be ready when his number was called, just like EJ Manuel did when Christian [Ponder] went down; just like Clint [Trickett] did when EJ went down,” Fisher said. “I can’t be prouder of Sean Maguire tonight and all he did for our team; the resolve he had.”
Greene the Tiger-killer
Senior wide receiver Rashad Greene continued his climb up the Florida State at Clemson’s expense, much as he has throughout his career. With his six-yard reception in the third quarter was the 190th of his career, moving him past Kez McCorvey and into sole possession of third place on FSU’s career receptions list.
He finished the night with nine receptions for 135 yards, including the 74-yard, game-tying touchdown reception that eventually forced overtime. In four career games against the Tigers, Greene has amassed 27 receptions for 415 yards and five touchdowns.
His ninth 100-yard receiving game also ties him for fifth in school history with his position coach Lawrence Dawsey and Jessie Hester.
Overtime is a rare occurrence
For just the fifth time in school history the Seminoles were involved in an overtime. FSU last played an overtime game against Penn State in the 2006 Orange Bowl, which ended in a 26-23 triple-overtime defeat.
In fact, Saturday night’s victory was just the second in five overtime contests and the first since Leon Washington’s touchdown run lifted the Seminoles to a 50-44 double-overtime win at home against NC State on Nov. 15, 2003.
The ‘Noles are now 2-0 at home in overtime. In addition to the Orange Bowl loss, FSU was also on the short end of a 26-20 Thursday night overtime loss at Louisville in 2002 and a 16-10 overtime loss at Miami in 2004.
Florida State’s five overtime game appearances are the fewest among 10 other ACC teams. Only the league’s newest additions – Syracuse, Pitt and Louisville – have played fewer as conference members.
Beatty rises to the occasion
Junior punter Cason Beatty quieted his critics with one of the best performances of his career, which came at a most opportune time for the Seminoles.
Beatty nailed a season-long 50-yarder in the second quarter, besting his previous long of 40, and finished the night with a 40.4 average on a career-high eight punts to help the Seminoles swing the field position game.
“Couldn’t be prouder of Cason Beatty tonight,” FSU coach Jimbo Fisher said. “When we struggled on offense, that guy hit big punts in big-time situations when everybody is riding him.”
Quote of the night
Senior wide receiver Rashad Greene on the difference in the Seminoles in the second half:
“We just had to man-up and realize that this is going to be tough game. We’ve got to suck it up and make it work, regardless of what’s going on. We had to make it work.”