Sept 22, 2001
By DAVID DROSCHAK
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) – Florida State has handed out its share of beatings
since joining the ACC in 1992. North Carolina returned the favor Saturday in
one of the biggest wins in its 111 years of football.
“I haven’t even got a speech for this,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden
said as his No. 6 Seminoles turned the ball over five times in a stunning 41-9
“They got what they deserved – a win – and we got what we deserved – a
loss. We’re not good enough to play like this.”
The defeat was a major jolt to Bowden’s program, which had been to the
national title game each of the last three years.
“This team has to decide what it wants to do,” Bowden said. “I didn’t see
anything that resembled poise, I didn’t see any execution. I think it was a
The Tar Heels, 0-3 and a 17-point underdog, used a 34-point second half to
stun Bowden’s Seminoles (2-1, 1-1).
“I jumped around with everybody else,” North Carolina senior quarterback
Ronald Curry said when asked what he did after the game. “I’m still a kid –
especially at heart.”
North Carolina also limited Florida State to just 11 first downs and 34
“We felt like we could dominate their offense from the first play of the
game,” linebacker David Thornton said. “Their offense wasn’t too complicated
and we felt like we had the speed and the talent up front to go out and be
aggressive and attack all game.”
It took UNC coach John Bunting, a former NFL assistant who replaced Carl
Torbush this season, about 15 minutes to weave his way through a mob of fans
who stormed the field and eventually took one of the goal posts to the ground.
“I didn’t anticipate everybody being on the field after the game, that’s
for sure,” Bunting said after his victorious home debut. “I guess if you win
that’s going to happen, isn’t it?
“I’m too old. I needed to be evacuated. But we need to do that some more
and I’ll get in better shape.”
Backup quarterback Darian Durant threw a pair of touchdown passes for the
Tar Heels (1-3, 1-1) and Jeff Reed had two field goals as North Carolina took
command in the third period to hand Florida State its third ACC loss in
nine-plus seasons – a span of 74 games.
The Seminoles did lose in the second game of the 1998 season at N.C. State
and made it to the Fiesta Bowl. However, Florida State still has No. 1 Miami,
No. 2 Florida, No. 10 Georgia Tech and No. 19 Clemson left on its 2001
“There are question marks, but they’re questions that have to be
answered,” Florida State running back Nick Maddox said. “I don’t think this
is a game that’s going to break our backs.
“We need to take this as a lesson. If we take it as a loss it’s going to be
a long season.”
North Carolina, which had already lost at No. 3 Oklahoma and No. 5 Texas,
beat its highest-ranked team since a 7-6 victory over No. 6 Duke in 1960. The
Tar Heels have never beaten a top 5 team.
The loss matched Florida State’s worst since a 52-20 drubbing by Florida in
the 1997 Sugar Bowl, and worst in the regular season since Auburn beat the
Seminoles 59-27 in 1985.
Florida State didn’t turn the ball over in season-opening wins against Duke
and Alabama-Birmingham, but freshman Chris Rix fumbled twice and threw an
By early in the fourth quarter, North Carolina fans were mocking the
Seminoles with their version of the tomahawk chop chant, a scene not seen too
often in ACC football circles.
“We let them get encouraged, we let them get their confidence up and they
took advantage of it,” Bowden said. “That didn’t look like the North Carolina
team I’ve seen the last three games.”
Curry, benched in favor of Durant to start the second half, capped off the
stunner when he found Kory Bailey on a 53-yard scoring pass with 13:12 left
that put the Tar Heels up by 18.
Curry had re-entered the game after Durant hurt his leg trying to pooch
North Carolina limited the Seminoles to just 11 yards in the pivotal third
Florida State never seemed to recover after an 85-yard touchdown pass from
Rix to Javon Walker was called back because of a holding penalty with 6:23 left
in the third.
A series later, Rix’s pass was picked off by Julius Peppers, and Reed’s
39-yard field goal gave the Tar Heels a 20-9 lead.
After running the ball on its first eight plays of the game, Florida State
got its initial first down 10 minutes in near midfield, but Rix fumbled after
scrambling for an 11-yard run on the next play and North Carolina took over.
After Florida State’s first turnover of the season, the Tar Heels drove 61
yards to take the lead late in the first, getting a 20-yard scoring pass from
Durant to Sam Aiken.
The Seminoles had yet to score midway through the second quarter and
appeared to be going nowhere when Rix was sacked for an 11-yard loss at his own
33. But a 38-yard pass over the middle to Walker and a 21-yard TD pass to
Taiman Gardner tied the score moments later.
Less than two minutes later, North Carolina had some confusion with
personnel on its punting unit and deep snapper Greg Warren hiked the ball well
over the head of John Lafferty and out of the end zone for a safety.
Players from both teams wore American flags on the back of their helmets in
tribute to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks.