September 8, 2001 - by
Rix Shows His Versatility In 29-7 Victory Over Blazers

Sept 8, 2001

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Associated Press Writer

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Florida State coach Bobby Bowden noted that quarterback Chris Rix had better luck in his second collegiate start than Chris Weinke did three years ago.

Rix passed for a touchdown, somersaulted for another and set up three more scores as the sixth-ranked Seminoles beat Alabama-Birmingham 29-7 Saturday night.

“It was not bad for a rookie quarterback,” Bowden said. “Let me say this, it was a lot better than Weinke’s second start.”

Weinke, who makes his debut Sunday as a starter with the Carolina Panthers, was intercepted six times in his second game as Florida State’s quarterback in 1998 when Florida State was upset 24-7 at North Carolina State. However, Weinke went on to lead Florida State to three straight national championship games and won the Heisman Trophy last year.

“Rix really made some plays,” Bowden said.

Rix gave the Seminoles a 13-0 lead with just over six minutes left in the half when he scored on a spectacular 2-yard forward flip. The redshirt freshman quarterback tried to hurdle into the end zone and was hit as he went airborne, doing a 360-degree flip and landing on his feet for the score.

“I think the guy might have hit my knees,” Rix said. “I know I can’t jump in there and flip like that on my own.”

Making just his second collegiate start, Rix completed 15 of 23 passes for 246 yards and added a team-high 52 yards rushing, becoming the first Florida State quarterback to lead the team in rushing since Charlie Ward – Florida State’s first Heisman winner – in 1993 at Notre Dame.

Florida State (2-0), which faces a key Atlantic Coast Conference game against No. 10 Georgia Tech next Saturday, extended its home winning streak to 36 games and upped its unbeaten homefield string to 53 games, dating to a 17-16 loss to Miami on Nov. 16, 1991.

Although leading 13-0 at the half, Florida State changed its offensive plan noticeably during the break, freeing the rangy Rix to use his mobility and roll out to neutralize a pesky UAB defense.

“I felt a little more relaxed when I was able to get out of the pocket a little,” said the 6-4, 205-pound Rix.

“I remember two or three times we had the quarterback sacked and he pulls out and raised up and throws one deep and someone outjumps us for the ball,” UAB coach Watson Brown said. “They made all the plays.”

Rix’ 16-yard run for a first down was the key play on a 61-yard scoring drive capped by William McCray’s 2-yard TD that gave Florida State a 19-0 lead on its first series of the second half.

UAB (1-1) pulled to 19-7 when it scored its lone touchdown with 6:37 left in the third quarter on Jegil Dugger’s 2-yard run, completing a 65-yard, nine-play drive helped by a Florida State roughing-the-passer penalty.

But Florida State answered swiftly, taking a 26-7 lead on Rix’s 32-yard touchdown pass to Talman Gardner.

Rix and Javon Walker teamed up on long passing plays to set up a pair of first-half field goals by Xavier Beitia that gave the Seminoles a 6-0 lead.

Beitia’s 36-yard field goal put Florida State into the lead less than three minutes into the game after a 46-yard pass from Rix to Walker. Beitia added a 21-yard field goal, ending a 64-yard drive highlighted by a Rix-Walker pass that covered 49 yards.

Beitia, a true freshman, completed the scoring with his third field goal of the game and fifth of the season – a 30-yard kick midway through the fourth quarter.

Remarkably, Florida State has not had a turnover in its first two games this season despite having a new quarterback and four starters returning on offense.

“Every game we’ve played, we’ve moved a step up,” said Bowden after his 317th coaching victory. “I really think we’re as far as we can be right now.”

And with their first big test at hand, Florida State’s players were already talking about Georgia Tech’s 70-7 rout of Navy.

“I hope we’re better than Navy,” Florida State safety Chris Hope said. “Hopefully we can shut that 70-point offensive machine down.”

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