Nov. 20, 1999
By DOUG FERGUSON
AP Sports Writer
GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) – No one should doubt Chris Weinke any more.
The 27-year-old quarterback for Florida State could have gone in the tank
when he watched Bennie Alexander return his interception 43 yards for a
touchdown midway through the third quarter, giving Florida its only lead of the
But instead of caving into the pressure, Weinke responded as though he had
something to prove. On Saturday night in the Swamp, he made his point.
Weinke led the Seminoles to 17 points on their next four possessions, giving
them a 30-23 victory and another chance to win the national championship.
“Any time you win down here, that’s how your judged,” Weinke said. “You
can win 10 straight games and lose this one, and people may consider you a
loser. I think some people will judge me differently now.”
He finished 24-of-36 for 263 yards and one interception – but what a big
interception that was.
Momentum was slowly shifting to Florida, trailing 13-9, when Weinke lofted a
pass toward Marvin Minnis. Alexander settled under it, that ran untouched down
the right sideline for a touchdown that caused Florida Field to shake with
Weinke wasn’t rattled, though.
“If I didn’t rebound then, I knew we were going to be in for a long
night,” Weinke said. “I said, `If I give away seven points, I’m going to lead
my offense to victory.’ At no time did I let it bother me and not think we
couldn’t come back.”
His next four passes were crisp and between the numbers as Florida State
quickly moved down the field and quieted the Florida fans. The drive stalled
only when Peter Warrick was inserted at quarterback and thrown for a 7-yard
Sebastian Janikowski connected on a 54-yard field goal, then Tommy Polley
blocked a punt to give the Seminoles the ball on the 21. A third-and-5 scramble
by Weinke gave Florida State a key first down, and Jeff Chaney punched it in
two plays later for a 23-16 lead.
After a three-and-out at its own goal line, Florida State got the ball back
at its own 22. Weinke threw a perfect strike to Warrick for 38 yards and, two
plays later, found Minnis in the right corner of the end zone for a 30-16 lead.
“Chris Weinke played well,” Warrick said. “That’s what we need from
Weinke, the junior who signed with the Toronto Blue Jays out of high school,
didn’t play against Florida last year because of a ruptured disc in his neck
that required surgery. He also wasn’t around when the Seminoles were beaten,
23-16, in the national championship game against Tennessee.
All that changed with a solid performance Saturday night, that featured one
bad throw but enough determination to atone for that.
“We haven’t been beaten yet,” he said. “To come down here and win …
that should prove to people that we are the best team in the country.”
And Weinke proved that he may be just the guy to give Florida State what it
needs to finish the season undefeated.