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 loss.
"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 complete breakdown."
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 second-half yards.
"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 schedule.
"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 interception.
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 punt.
North Carolina limited the Seminoles to just 11 yards in the pivotal third quarter.
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.