Nov. 15, 1997
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Thad Busby completed 27-of-35 passes for 390 yards and four
touchdowns as top-ranked Florida State had a school-record 11
sacks and five interceptions to roll over Wake Forest, 58-7, in
the Atlantic Coast Conference.
The Seminoles (10-0, 8-0 ACC) concluded yet another perfect
conference season in their final tuneup for next weekend’s game
at archrival Florida, pushing their all-time ACC record to 47-1.
“There was a lot of elements that led us to play this way
today,” said Florida State linebacker Daryl Bush. “It’s our
fifth straight ACC championship for us seniors. I’m not going
to take it for granted. I find it very special. It’s been
special to play here and be part of this tradition.”
A win in that game would assure Florida State, which has won the
conference championship in each of its six ACC season, of
playing in the Orange Bowl for at least a portion of the
“Our seniors never lost a home game,” said FSU coach Bobby
Bowden. “This senior class has a maturity, they know what is
important. I let them handle the psyching this week. I’m not
surprised at how focused we were, but we might not have been,
given the situation.
“I never expected to be 10-0 this year. We lost so many great
players and all those suspensions; I just did not think we had
the depth to go undefeated. Now, anything they do does not
Busby, who sat down with just over five minutes left in the
third quarter in his last home game, was not intercepted and
helped Florida State gain 532 yards of total offense, all but 26
through the air. The Seminoles also had their best scoring
output of the season.
“We played a good game on both offense and defense today,” Busby
said. “It was a good win for us, we were sharp in the passing
game. We wanted to make sure that we didn’t come in playing
lackadasical after the North Carolina win. We just need to
continue doing the things that we’re doing and limit the mental
mistakes. We still need to clean up some things this week in
practice and be ready to play next Saturday against Florida.
The defense was led by defensive end Andre Wadsworth, who had 3
1/2 sacks and cornerback Samari Rolle, who had a pair of
interceptions. Wake Forest (5-6, 3-5) posted 250 yards of total
offense, including minus-one on the ground, marking the fourth
time this season Florida State has held the opposition to
negative rushing yardage.
“Our goal was not to get complacent and let this team embarrass
us,” Wadsworth said. “That was definitely our main goal. We
did very well keeping the intensity up and the emotions high.
The game wasn’t on ABC or ESPN, so it was important for us
seniors to keep the spirits high on defense.”
Florida State is 6-0 against the Demon Deacons since joing the
ACC, holding a 319-48 advantage on the scoreboard. All-time,
Wake Forest is just 2-13-1 against FSU, with wins in 1973 and
1959 — its only victory in Tallahassee.
“There is something about this team (Florida State) that we all
can learn from,” said Wake Forest coach Jim Caldwell. “We
certainly did not want to end the season like this, especially
since we’ve been playing well. Today, though, this team took a
licking and I’m sure it’s hard on our seniors. Our goal was to
have a winning season. We are not taking a day off. We’ll lick
our wounds and get back to work.”
The Seminoles got on top 1:54 into the game when fullback Khalid
Abdullah scored on a one-yard plunge. After a sack and a fumble
recovery, Busby hit E.G. Green for a 23-yard touchdown with 5:32
left in the first quarter to double the lead and threw a 45-yard
scoring pass to tight end Melvin Pearsall just over four minutes
later to make it 21-0.
Busby, who is second in school history with eight 300-yard
games, is 27 yards shy of setting the single-season FSU record
for passing yardage. Peter Tom Willis set the record of 3,125
“It’s hard to win respect here at Florida State, but I think
I’ve won some,” Busby said. “I think I’ve won a lot of fans
here. It mneant a lot to hear those people cheering for me. I
wouldn’t say it’s important (going over 3,000 yards), but it
feels good to produce in that way. Everybody has come together
and have done their part. I feel that I have done my part.”
One play after Pearsall’s touchdown, defensive end Tony Bryant
picked off a pass by Ben Sankey and returned it 19 yards for a
score to make it 28-0.
On Florida State’s next drive, Busby completed passes of 19 and
20 yards to Peter Warrick, setting up a 12-yard scoring throw to
Green 2:46 into the second quarter. Green caught seven passes
for 120 yards, Pearsall had four catches for 114 and Warrick
caught seven for 93.
Pearsall became just the fourth tight end in school history to
break 100 receiving yards in a single game and the first since
Lonnie Johnson had 154 against Tulane in 1991. He is tied for
the FSU career record with 10 TD catches.
Sebastian Janikowski’s 21-yard field goal helped Florida State
take a 38-0 lead into the half, and Busby connected with Warrick
on a three-yard scoring pass 6:46 into the third quarter to make
it a 45-point game. Florida State once again ran from the
shotgun formation for the balance of the game.
Janikowski slammed a school-record 56-yarder to make it 48-0
with 4:51 left in the third quarter, but Sankey spoiled the
shutout bid with two minutes remaining in the period when he
threw a 25-yard scoring pass to Desmond Clark. Derek Schmidt
held the previous FSU record with a 54-yarder against Miami in
Janikowski added a 20-yarder and Chris Wienke, the third-string
quarterback, threw a nine-yard scoring pass to Germaine Stringer
in the fourth quarter to make the final margin for Florida
State. The final touchdown was set up on an interception by
free safety Dexter Jackson.