Nov 3, 2001
By PETE IACOBELLI
AP Sports Writer
CLEMSON, S.C. – It’s getting harder to be the best Bowden in college football.
Bobby Bowden sounded more like a hurting father than a thrilled Florida State coach after his Seminoles blew out son Tommy’s Clemson Tigers 41-27 in front of 85,000 agitated fans at Death Valley.
“Today, I felt like both of us had to have it. Tommy needed momentum. We did, too,” Bobby said. “But it didn’t feel real good.”
“A lot of guys I used to coach with,” he added, pausing between phrases. “Raised even some of them on the other team. Takes a little of the luster out of it.”
Chris Rix threw four touchdown passes as the 14th-ranked Seminoles (6-2, 5-1 ACC) beat Clemson for the 10th straight time and stayed alive for their 10th consecutive Atlantic Coast Conference title.
It also move Bobby to 3-0 against his son.
“It’s wearing on him?” Tommy said. “He won all three times, how about it wearing on me?”
There was little of the ballyhoo of 1999, the first time in major college history that father faced son here in Death Valley. Tommy’s Tigers kept that one competitive before falling 17-14 to the top-ranked Seminoles. But it was a parental whipping last year in Tallahassee with Florida State on top 54-7.
The Seminoles picked up this one against the Tigers (5-3, 3-3) where they left off a year ago.
Rix hit Javon Walker with a 47-yard touchdown run to make it 10-0 in the opening quarter. After Woodrow Dantzler ran for a 2-yard score, Rix connected with Talman Gardner for a 28-yard touchdown pass on the next drive.
Two series later, Walker caught a 31-yard pass that increased Florida State’s lead to 27-7.
Rix, a freshman, outshined his senior Clemson counterpart in Dantzler. Rix continually lofted balls over Clemson’s defensive backs, who always seemed two or three steps behind.
When Clemson cornerback Brian Mance tipped the ball away from Walker on one pass in the third quarter, the fans gave a long, sarcastic cheer.
Rix was 19-of-30 for 369 yards and two interceptions.
Dantzler had 336 total yards and two touchdowns, but was ineffective at moving the Tigers.
Rix, shaky in losses to North Carolina and Miami this season, has been rock solid the past three weeks. He’s accounted for 964 yards passing and 10 TDs in Florida State’s three victories over Virginia, Maryland and the Tigers.
“I’m a quarterback, I live to throw,” Rix said. “They tried to gamble with their safeties up and force us into making our young quarterback panic, but our receivers ran great routes and made plays.”
|Chris Rix suffers a big hit, but delivers the touchdown pass to Javon Walker.|
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|Chris Rix connects with Talman Gardner for a 29-yard TD on the play-action pass.|
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|Greg Jones takes the handoff and sprints 52 yards down the sideline for the score.|
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On a sunny day when Clemson honored its 1981 national championship team, Florida State showed the Tigers how far they still have to go if they want a return to glory.
Walker had six catches for 162 yards. Gardner had six receptions for 115 yards. Jones rushed for 160 yards,
Papa Bowden got career win 321 to stay four behind Penn State’s Joe Paterno on the career major-college list.
This game changed for good when Clemson’s fake punt – a Bowden family specialty – for a 61-yard touchdown was called back for illegal procedure.
Bernard Rambert took the direct snap as punter Wynn Kopp faked the ball sailing over his head. Rambert was barely touched going the distance as Tommy’s mom, Ann, was tickled in the stands with the successful trick.
But the Death Valley crowd turned sour when the points came off the scoreboard. Replays appeared to show the Tigers had only six players on the line of scrimmage, one less than required.
Tommy Bowden said he knew there were a man short, but thought they had gotten away with it when Rambert scored.
Dominic Robinson, back to return the punt for Florida State, noticed Clemson was without a defender along his right and knew a penalty would be called. “I took a deep breath because that was huge,” Robinson said. “The momentum went to us.”
Instead of Rambert’s run cutting the lead to 17-14, Florida State drove 63 yards for Xavier Beitia’s 39-yard field goal and followed that with Rix and Walker’s second touchdown play.
When told his wife’s reaction, Bobby smiled. “She likes trick plays,” he said. “She usually likes them when we get them.”