FSU Sends Bowden Out a Winner
By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com
January 1, 2010
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida State gave retiring coach Bobby Bowden a big sendoff by defeating 16th-ranked West Virginia 33-21 in the 2010 Konica Minolta Gator Bowl in Jacksonville, Fla.
The Gator Bowl took some criticism for bypassing Miami, Boston College and Clemson and picking the 6-6 Seminoles, but Florida State proved it was a worthy participant and the bowl managed to cash in with a record crowd of 84,192.
By defeating the Mountaineers, 9-4 for the second straight year under Bill Stewart, Florida State was able to avert a second losing season for Bowden in 34 years of coaching at FSU. Bowden, who began his Division I coaching career at West Virginia, also defeated his former team for the third time – all in Gator Bowls.
Manuel completed 17-of-24 passes for 190 yards and Jermaine Thomas scored on touchdown runs of 12 and 19 yards, while adding 125 yards on the ground for the victorious Seminoles.
The loss spoiled an impressive all-around performance by WVU junior Noel Devine, who finished the game with 196 yards from scrimmage - including 168 on the ground.
It was Devine who got things going for West Virginia on the game’s opening possession, taking a Jarrett Brown swing pass for 15 yards to help the Mountaineers cover 72 yards on eight plays.
On first and 10 at the Florida State 32, Brown’s first crack at the end zone missed badly when he overthrew a wide open Bradley Starks at the Florida State 10. The second time Brown called his own number, outrunning the Florida State defense 32 yards to the end zone.
Florida State answered with a Dan Hopkins 26-yard field goal. Florida State went 51 yards to the Mountaineer 8 where Manuel’s third-down pass in the end zone fell incomplete.
It took West Virginia just four plays to return to the end zone.
Devine got beyond the Florida State defense on a second-and-13 run and raced 70 yards down the far sideline to the Seminole 4. Three plays later, Devine went in from the 1 to give West Virginia a 14-3 lead.
Devine’s 70-yard run was a West Virginia record for bowl games, exceeding by five yards his 65-yard touchdown run against Oklahoma in the 2008 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
After Hopkins 37-yard field goal try sailed wide left, Florida State used a Patrick Robinson interception as a catalyst to score the game’s next 10 points to make it a 14-13 ballgame at halftime.
Just before Robinson’s interception, Brown got West Virginia out of the hole with a 27-yard run up the far sideline to the Mountaineer 42. Then Brown under-threw Tavon Austin and Robinson was able to pick off the pass at the Florida State 39.
From there, it took the Seminoles seven plays to drive 61 yards to score their first touchdown of the game. Manuel completed passes of 13 and 12 yards to Jarmon Fortson. Then Manuel hit Rod Owens for 13 yards, setting up Thomas’ 12-yard TD jaunt.
But Devine had West Virginia right back in business with runs of 9, 18 and 20 yards to move the football to the Florida State 22. From there the West Virginia offense went in reverse.
A holding call on Josh Jenkins pushed the football back to the 32. An intentional grounding call on Brown sent West Virginia back to the 46. Brown’s quarterback run to the right got nothing and then he was sacked for a loss of nine yards back to send the ball back to the West Virginia 45.
The Seminoles took over at their own 25 with 7:40 left in the second quarter and they wound up using all but eight seconds of it to get Hopkins in position to kick a 42-yard field goal.
Florida State had its sights set on a touchdown with the ball sitting at the West Virginia 21. But Bert Reed was thrown for a 1-yard loss on a reverse. The Seminoles were called for holding on Manuel’s 5-yard scramble, and Thomas lost 5 on a sweep to the right, giving Florida State a third and 27 at the 38. Manuel’s 14-yard pass to Owens put Hopkins into position to kick the second of his four field goals.
West Virginia ended the first half with backup quarterback Geno Smith taking a knee for Brown, who injured his ankle on the previous possession and did not return.
At the beginning of the third quarter Florida State took its first lead of the game, 16-14, on Hopkins’ third field goal, this one coming from 22 yards. Greg Reid set up the Hopkins kick when he blew by West Virginia’s kickoff coverage unit for 69 yards to the Mountaineer 10.
On its first possession of the third quarter, Tyler Bitancurt missed a 33-yard field goal try that would have given West Virginia a 17-16 lead.
Austin got WVU into scoring territory when he took a Smith screen pass 19 yards to the Florida State 41. Two Florida State personal foul penalties tacked 30 yards on to the end of the run, giving West Virginia a first and 10 at the Florida State 13.
But once again West Virginia went backwards. Smith mishandled a snap that led to a loss of seven. A short pass to Jock Sanders got four yards to the 16, and then Smith’s third-down pass went out of the end zone, setting up Bitancurt’s miss to the right.
After an exchange of possessions, Florida State got great field position at the 45 when Scott Kozlowski’s punt was partially deflected. Manuel hit Fortson for 29 yards to the 26, and two plays later, Thomas outran the WVU defense for his second touchdown, this one from 19 yards.
Smith was able to keep West Virginia in the game, though, by engineering a nine-play, 80-yard drive that ended with Clarke scoring from the 5 to pull the Mountaineers to within two. Devine began the drive with a 34-yard run and Smith hit a pair of third-down passes to Bradley Starks.
Florida State answered West Virginia’s third touchdown with a clock-eating, 12-play, 81-yard drive culminating with Manuel crossing the goal line from the 2. Hopkins then tacked on a late 37-yard field goal with 2:07 left.
Smith finished the game 8-of-15 for 91 yards passing for the Mountaineers.
WVU finished the game with 305 yards of offense, although 149 of those yards came in the first quarter.
The Seminoles had 415 total yards, 225 of them coming on the ground.
At the conclusion of the game, Bowden was carried off the field by his Florida State players and Seminole fans remained in the stands afterward to salute their retiring coach.