Seminoles Turn Back Tigers, 41-27
Nov. 8, 2008
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Christian Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another Saturday and Antone Smith ran for two scores as No. 24 Florida State defeated Clemson 41-27 Saturday on coach Bobby Bowden's 79th birthday.
Clemson (4-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had won the last three games in the series under Bowden's son, Tommy Bowden, who was fired last month after a 3-3 start. Interim Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is 1-2 since taking over.
A crowd of nearly 80,000 sang "Happy Birthday" to Bowden in the final moments of the game. The victory was the 380th for Bowden, which is second all-time among major college coaches. He is now 5-1 in games coached on his birthday and just one game behind Penn State's Joe Paterno, whose team lost Saturday at Iowa.
Florida State (7-2, 4-2) overcame an early 10-0 deficit to lead 20-17 at halftime after both teams converted turnovers into touchdowns.
It was the fourth straight week the Seminoles have spotted an opponent at least 10 points--rallying for wins in three of those, losing the other on a last-minute fumble.
The win makes Florida State bowl eligible for the 27th consecutive season-- now the longest streak in the country--and keeps them tied with Wake Forest for first place in the ACC's Atlantic Division.
Clemson started fast with C.J. Spiller going 44 yards on a short pass from Cullen Harper to finish off a quick 80-yard opening drive. The Tigers went ahead 10-0 five minutes later Mark Buchholz's 41-yard field goal.
Harper threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his costly interception that got Florida State started.
Defensive end Neefy Moffett scored on an 18-yard interception of an ill-advised throw by Harper to get the Seminoles a 10-10 tie, a minute and 40 seconds after Florida State's Graham Gano stretched his school mark to 16 straight field goals with a 52-yard kick.
After Gano put Florida State up 13-10 with his 17th consecutive made field goal, this from 37 yards, Clemson took its last lead at 17-13 on Harper's 8-yard touchdown pass to Michael Palmer. The Tigers were set up when they recovered a fumbled punt by Florida State's Tony Carter at the Seminoles 9.
Ponder's 1-yard TD run put Florida State the lead for keeps at 20-17 with 1:25 left in the half and he hit Corey Surrency on a 14-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half as the Seminoles stretched their advantage to 27-17.
Smith scored his 12th and 13th rushing touchdowns of the season on runs of 1 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter around Spiller's 2-yard TD that got Clemson to within a touchdown with 2:20 left.