Nov 10, 2001
By BRENT KALLESTAD
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - Homecoming at Florida State was just like Chuck Amato remembered. A full stadium and a win.
"There is no way you can fathom something like this," Amato said after his North Carolina State squad upset 10th-ranked Florida State 34-28 Saturday, ending the Seminoles' 39-0 run at home against Atlantic Coast Conference competition.
"We talked about David and Goliath and all that stuff and being believers and doing the things nobody thought we could do."
And Amato did it in his first visit back since spending 18 years as a Florida State assistant, ending Bobby Bowden's perfect 25-0 homecoming record and possibly the Seminoles' nine-year ACC title reign.
"I'm still undefeated in homecoming games here in this stadium," the raspy-voiced Amato said.
Florida State (6-3, 5-2) went into the game tied for the ACC lead with Maryland, which played Saturday night against Clemson.
Aside from a brief time in first quarter, the Wolfpack (6-3, 4-3) dominated the game. They accumulated 463 yards of total offense and 26 first downs while holding the ball for 34:58, keeping Florida State's explosive offense on the sideline.
"Chuck knew us like a book and knew how to take advantage of us," Bowden said. "He knew how to confuse us. They had us so off balance."
Ray Robinson ran for 106 yards and two touchdowns, including a decisive fourth-quarter scoring run when he spun out of the grasp of Florida State middle linebacker Bradley Jennings and raced 24 yards to the end zone to give the Wolfpack a 31-21 lead with 11:37 left.
Chris Rix, who had already thrown three touchdown passes, ran for another on a 3-yard dive with 10:05 to pull the Seminoles to 31-28, but North Carolina State then used nearly 8 minutes on a 17-play drive that ended with Adam Kiker's 32-yard field goal with 2:11 left, forcing the Seminoles to score a touchdown.
"We didn't try to do too much, we didn't get in a hurry," said Wolfpack quarterback Philip Rivers, who completed 26 of 33 passes for 245 yards. "You've got to have patience. That's our offense."
The game ended with Florida State at the Wolfpack 14 and quarterback Chris Rix throwing into the end zone twice, but the Wolfpack's Brian Williams tipped the ball away from Florida State's Talman Gardner in the corner of the end zone on the final play.
"All we needed was one of them and we win," Bowden said. "They made one more catch than we did. We had a chance."
Rix drove Florida State from its own 22 in the final 2:04, but there were no miracles.
"We just didn't score," said Florida State's Javon Walker, who caught eight passes for 121 yards and a touchdown. "Not much more you can say than that."
The Wolfpack also became the first team to beat Florida State twice in ACC games. The Seminoles are 75-4 since joining the league. Their other losses were to Virginia in 1995 and North Carolina earlier this season.
North Carolina State had control of the game early, rolling up 314 yards in the first half and scoring 17 straight points to take a 24-14 halftime lead.
Florida State led 14-7 after the first quarter on Rix's 33-yard scoring pass to Gardner and 63-yarder to Walker. Gardner also caught a 22-yard touchdown pass - his 11th of the season - in the third quarter.
The Wolfpack scored first when Cotra Jackson's fumble was recovered by teammate Derek Green. The 17 straight points in the second quarter came on Jerricho Cotchery's 12-yard run, Robinson's 3-yarder and Kiker's 25-yard field goal with 12 seconds left in the half.
Rix, Florida State's redshirt freshman, completed 20 of 35 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns, but continued to suffer turnovers - losing a fumble and throwing his 12th interception.
"We have to learn from the mistakes we made," Rix said. "Give credit to Chuck Amato and NC State. They outplayed us."