January 5, 2000 - by
Sugar Bowl Notebook

Jan. 5, 2000






Recap | Game Photo Gallery | Post-Game Audio | Notebook | Box Score

























































Courtesy Matt Rehm

FANSonly.com

  • Player of the Game
  • Quotables
  • Notebook
  • By the Numbers
  • Injuries

  • Courtesy Associated Press


  • Seminoles’ special teams make a difference.
  • Moore is Less
  • How do you beat that guy?
  • Clinton Calling

  • Halftime Payoff

  • That Number

  • Playing Hurt




  • PLAYER OF THE GAME: PETER WARRICK
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    With just under eight minutes remaining in the Sugar Bowl, the FSU faithful began a “Pe-ter Warr-ick” chant. The Seminoles were about to take the field with a 39-29 lead, and the fans had the same thought which was running through Warrick’s mind — it was time for the most exciting player in college football to wrap up the Seminoles’ national championship.


    As the chant went on, Warrick was busy chatting with the FSU offense.


    “I asked the offense, ‘Hey, do you want me to finish them?’,” said Warrick. “They said, ‘Yeah!'”


    Warrick was true to his word. On the very next play, he sealed the Seminoles’ victory with a spectacular 43-yard touchdown reception. Despite cornerback Roynell Whitaker’s pass interference, Warrick made a juggling catch in the end zone, putting FSU ahead 46-29 with 7:42 remaining.


    “It was just a takeoff,” said Warrick. “I knew it was coming to me. It was a one-man route. It was just a matter of who wanted it more.”


    It was a spectactular finish for a dazzling finale to an outstanding career, and it brought closure to a mission which began a year ago in Tempe, Ariz., when Warrick was stifled in the Fiesta Bowl.


    That night, he had only one catch. On Tuesday, he had six receptions for 163 yards and two TDs, and set a Sugar Bowl record by scoring 20 points (two TD receptions, one punt return TD and a two-point conversion).


    A year ago, Warrick nearly broke the game open with a punt return for a touchdown, but was tackled by the punter. This time around, Warrick brought a kick back 59 yards for a touchdown — the longest ever allowed by the Hokies in the Frank Beamer era, and the first one they’ve allowed since Sept. 17, 1988.


    However, Warrick said last year’s experience wasn’t in his mind on Tuesday.


    “I wasn’t really focused on last year, because that’s all behind me,” said Warrick. “I was just going to go into this game to do what I’ve done all season — go out and make plays.”


    Time and time again, that’s exactly what he did.


    “It would’ve been hard to hard to (win) without Pete,” said head coach Bobby Bowden. “He gave us a lot more firepower.”


    QUOTABLES:
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    “I never knew championships tasted like sugar. It’s sweet. It tastes like sugar, baby.” — FSU cornerback Mario Edwards


    “Cinderella’s gotta leave at 12.” — FSU guard Jason Whitaker, on Virginia Tech’s role as the underdog.


    “I’ve really got to thank God for that (forced fumble), because I actually had a bad read. I came out and Vick didn’t see me. I just came around and slapped right under his arm, and lucky enough the ball came out.” — FSU linebacker Bobby Rhodes


    “It’s a great feeling to win a national championship, especially for Coach Bowden. We’re proud to be the first team under him to have a perfect season.” — FSU cornerback Tay Cody


    “It was only fitting that to win a national championship, we did it the way we did, coming from behind. Our kids showed national championship character.” — FSU head coach Bobby Bowden


    “We’ve been behind before, and today was no different. I think we’ve got to get punched in the mouth first before we start playing again. We got punched, but we came back and won.” — FSU linebacker Tommy Polley


    “We didn’t panic. I think that was the key to tonight’s game. We stayed composed and went out and won the game.” — FSU nose guard Corey Simon


    “We did some things that were uncharacteristic of our football team in the kicking game and with they long plays in the first half. We made a great comeback in the third quarter, (but) I think you have to give (FSU) credit. They keep popping you.” — Virginia Tech head coach Frank Beamer


    “Florida State is Florida State. They’re a die-hard football team. We get up one point on them, they’re not going to give up. Just because you come back from a 28-7 deficit, we still have to put more points on the board.” — Virginia Tech quarterback Michael Vick


    Peter Warrick is a great receiver. He is everything he is advertised to be.” — Virginia Tech cornerback Anthony Midget


    “Everyone saw that they could not stop our offense. The offensive line played great. Michael Vick played great. Our receivers played good. The fullbacks played good. We just went out there and were just dominating the game. We just let it slip away.” — Virginia Tech running back Andre Kendrick


    NOTEBOOK:
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  • Florida State will host its National Championship Celebration on Saturday, Jan. 22 at Doak Campbell Stadium, where Bobby Bowden, his staff and the 1999 Seminoles will be presented with the Sears National Championship Trophy. The event, carried live on Sunshine Network, will begin at noon and gates will open at 11 a.m. Admission is free. Also on Saturday, Jan. 22: the annual FSU football awards banquet will begin at 5 p.m. Tickets may be purchased by calling the Seminole Boosters at (800) 644-3484.

  • FSU quarterback Chris Weinke will hold a press conference on Friday to announce whether or not he will forego his senior season and enter the NFL Draft. Weinke, who is now 21-1 as FSU’s starting quarterback, said he has not made up his mind. He said Saturday that an FSU win in the Sugar Bowl would make leaving easier but would not be the only factor in his decision. He reiterated those comments after the game, drawing applause from Coach Bowden when he said, “What a great way to go out: 12-0 and national champions. But on the other hand, there’s something special about being a senior on a football team, and I don’t remember the last time a team went undefeated two straight seasons.”

  • Weinke said the offensive line played “easily its best game of the season.” For evidence, look no further than this one simple fact: All-America defensive end Corey More, regarded by many as the best defensive player in college football, made one tackle in the entire game.

  • Think time of possession isn’t an overrated stat? When Peter Warrick’s punt return for a touchdown gave FSU a 28-7 lead with 11:40 remaining in the first half, the Seminoles had possessed the ball for a total of 3:14, compared to Tech’s 15:06.

  • A great deal of media attention is given to Virginia Tech’s special teams, and rightfully so. But the Hokies weren’t very special on Tuesday, as running back Andre Kendrick noted. “We might be the best special teams in the country, and we gave up two touchdowns… That’s crazy. That doesn’t happen.”

  • FSU freshman cornerback Malcolm Tatum had two key plays on special teams, delivering the block on Dan Wilkinson which sprung Warrick for his punt return TD and later downing a punt on the Virginia Tech 2-yard line.

  • Coach Bowden said he thought turnovers were the key to the game. “If (Michael Vick) hadn’t turned the ball over, you don’t know what might have happened,” he said. Entering the game, Vick had fumbled only five times all season. He fumbled twice on Tuesday, both of which were recovered by FSU, including one in the end zone on the game’s opening drive.

  • All-BIG EAST punt returner Ricky Hall, who fractured a bone in his left foot last week in practice, did see action Tuesday in a handful of plays at wide receiver. He didn’t make any receptions, though.

  • A total of 35 Bowdens invaded the Superdome on Tuesday night: Bobby, his wife, Ann, their six children and their spouses, and 21 grandchildren.

  • An array of former FSU player also attended the game, including NFL stars Derrick Alexander, Peter Boulware, Derrick Brooks, Sam Cowart, Henri Crockett, Warrick Dunn, Dan Footman, Corey Fuller, Marvin Jones, Carl Simpson, Demetro Stephens, Andre Wadsworth and Reinard Wilson.

  • Contest winner Bob Moderhak of Holmes Beach, Fla., won $500,000 at halftime by throwing a football through a target in NOKIA’s annual football toss contest. Moderhak could have won up to $2 million, but former NFL star Joe Theismann completed only one of four passes to build up the ante. Moderhak said he plans to buy a boat and name it “Thanks Joe T.”


    BY THE NUMBERS:
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  • Attendance was 79,280, the largest crowd ever to see a football game in the Superdome and the third-largest crowd overall in Superdome history. The largest crowd ever to see and event in the Superdome was 87,500 for a Rolling Stones concert.

  • Florida State became the first team ever to go all the way from the preseason to the end of the year as No. 1 in the Associated Press poll.

  • This was the 11th time in the past 12 years in which the Sugar Bowl involved a team from either Florida or Virginia. The lone exception was last year’s Ohio State – Texas A&M matchup.

  • FSU is now 4-1 all-time in the Sugar Bowl, all under Bobby Bowden. Only Alabama (8) and Ole Miss (5) have won more. Bowden and Florida’s Steve Spurrier are the only active coaches with more than one Sugar Bowl win.

  • FSU became the 17th team to claim the national championship by winning the Sugar Bowl.

  • The two teams broke the previous Sugar Bowl combined scoring record set in 1997, when Florida defeated FSU, 52-20.

  • Virginia Tech broke the record for most points scored by a losing team in the Sugar Bowl, previously help by Florida in its 39-28 loss to Notre Dame in 1992.

  • Virginia Tech set a Sugar Bowl record with 15 points in the third quarter. The previous Sugar Bowl record for third-quarter scoring was 14 points.

  • Peter Warrick’s 64-yard touchdown catch in the second quarter was his longest of the season, bettering his 59-yard reception against Georgia Tech. His career-long was an 80-yarder against Clemson in 1997.

  • Warrick’s 59-yard punt return for a TD was his second this season and third of his career. It was also the longest ever allowed by the Hokies in the Frank Beamer era, although Southern Miss returned a blocked punt 60 yards for a touchdown on Sept. 17, 1988. That same game was also the last time the Hokies allowed a punt return for a touchdown, as James Henry brought one back 44 yards.

  • Tommy Polley’s blocked punt in the first quarter was FSU’s fifth of the season. Polley also blocked one in FSU’s regular-season finale at Florida.

  • The last time FSU scored a TD on a blocked punt was in 1997 by Derrick Gibson vs. Duke.

  • Sebastian Janikowski tied a Sugar Bowl record by kicking five extra points.

  • Virginia Tech attempted its first two two-point conversions of the season during the third quarter. Both failed when Michael Vick’s passes were broken up — the first by Bradley Jennings, the second by Derrick Gibson.

    FSU’s 28 first-half points tied its school record for a bowl game. The ‘Noles also scored 28 in the first half of the 1971 Fiesta Bowl, in which they beat Arizona State 45-38. It was also the fifth time this season that FSU scored at least 28 points in the first half. The Sugar Bowl record for points in a half is 31 by Oklahoma against Auburn in 1971.

  • Fifty-four FSU players saw action in the first quarter.

  • Florida State senior co-captain Jason Whitaker made his 38th consecutive start. Overall, the All-American started 40 of 49 games in his college career.


    INJURIES:
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    FSU: Linebacker Tommy Polley sprained his left knee during the second quarter and missed the remainder of the game. He said after the game that FSU’s trainers suspect he has a torn ACL, and he will have an MRI on Thursday. Defensive back Pete Henderson also sprained his left knee in the first half, while Roland Seymour sprained his right knee during the third quarter and missed the rest of the game.


    Virginia Tech: Running back Shyrone Stith sprained his left ankle late in the second quarter. It was announced in the press box that Stith had been cleared to return to the game, but he did not. Cory Bird sprained his left shoulder.


    Seminoles’ special teams make a difference
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    NEW ORLEANS (AP) – Virginia Tech’s special teams have made news all season.
    Florida State’s special teams were big news in the postseason.

    Two special teams touchdowns and a field goal were the difference as the
    top-ranked Seminoles closed out their first perfect season with a 46-29 Sugar
    Bowl victory. They also stopped one fake field goal and one fake punt by
    Virginia Tech, and Tommy Polley blocked a punt late in the first quarter that
    Jeff Chaney recovered and ran in for a touchdown.

    Peter Warrick’s 59-yard punt return for a touchdown was the longest punt
    return given up by Virginia Tech since Frank Beamer became coach in 1987, and
    the first for a touchdown since 1988.

    Virginia Tech came into the game thinking if special teams play made a
    difference, it would be to their advantage.

    The Hokies led the nation with 63 blocked kicks in the 1990s, a style that
    earned the nickname “Beamer Ball.” Their defense and special teams combined
    for 57 touchdowns, including eight this season. Florida State, by comparison,
    had 26 blocked kicks in the decade.

    MOORE IS LESS:
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    Corey Moore, the Virginia Tech defensive star that cursed
    at reporters and walked out on interviews during Media Day, then didn’t show up
    for another session, was not as much a factor in the game.

    Moore, who had a Big East-record 17 sacks this season and won the Bronko
    Nagurski Award as the nation’s top defender and the Lombardi Award as the top
    lineman, had one tackle in the game, and it came on the first play. He also
    forced a fumble by Chris Weinke on Florida State’s first play of the third
    quarter that pushed the Seminoles back to their 6-yard line.

    HOW DO YOU BEAT THAT GUY?
    (click to return to top) Virginia Tech is now 0-13 against Bobby Bowden.

    The Hokies are also one of 55 schools that have never beaten the Florida State
    coach.

    CLINTON CALLING:
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    President Clinton called both Florida State coach Bobby
    Bowden and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer after the game.

    “When he takes time to call the team that lost, it shows that he really
    admired the way this football team played all year, and I appreciate that a
    lot,” Beamer said.

    HALFTIME PAYOFF:
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    Robert Moderhak is going to find retirement a bit cushier
    after picking up $500,000 during a halftime contest at the Sugar Bowl.

    Moderhak, 54, turned out to be as good a passer as former NFL quarterback
    Joe Theismann. Theismann completed one of four passes – each worth $50,000 –
    hitting a 2-foot by 2-foot opening from 15 yards. Then Moderhak stepped up and
    sent his only attempt through the hole, adding a zero to the winnings and
    upping his winnings to a half-million dollars.

    Moderhak, a retired school administrator from Longmont, Colo., who recently
    moved to Holmes Beach, Fla., pumped his fist in the air after hitting the pass,
    then hugged his wife, Sue, and Theismann.

    “Although I still have four years of college eligibility left, I think I
    will stick with my retirement in Florida,” Moderhak said.

    THAT NUMBER:
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    The 79,280 people attending the Sugar Bowl was the largest
    crowd to ever watch a football game in the Superdome. The largest crowd to ever
    attend any event in the dome was 87,500 who watched a Rolling Stones concert
    there in 1981.

    PLAYING HURT:
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    Virginia Tech split end Ricky Hall, despite a broken bone in
    his left foot, was in for two plays in the first half.

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