Seminoles Sidelines - VIII
Auburn Fires the Last Shot


Pat Dye


Pat Washington


Brent Fullwood scores the game's first TD.


Derek Schmidt


Eric Thomas


Louis Berry


Lenny Chavers


Pete Panton


Collis Campbell


Brent Fullwood


Jessie Hester


Darrin Holloman


Hassan Jones


Kyle Collins


Jeff Parks

"Offensive Showcase," "Shootout," "Fireworks Show."
  • These were terms headline writers and reporters used to describe Florida State's clash with Auburn Saturday night, October 13, 1984.
  • Tigers coach Pat Dye labeled it "unbelievable" and "unexpected."
  • Birmingham News writer Charles Hollis called it "the best tennis match in town." You score, I score, you score, I score. And, for the team with the last serve, it was game, set, match.

Two Deep South football teams proud of their defenses combined to score 83 points.

  • 58,671, the largest crowd ever to watch a game in Doak Campbell Stadium, saw 1,063y of offense.
  • The lead changed hands three times in the last 11 minutes.

The Seminoles came into the game undefeated.

  • After rising to #6 in the AP poll with five wins to start the season, FSU dropped to 9th after a 17-17 tie at Memphis State in a game in which the Noles may have been looking past those Tigers toward the next set of Tigers to come to town.
  • Auburn started the season ranked #1 but dropped fast after losing their first two games, 20-18 to defending national champion Miami and 35-27 to Texas. But victories over Southern Miss, Tennessee, and Ole Miss moved the Plainsmen up to #16.
  • In his 1992 autobiography, Dye wrote this: Tallahassee is the toughest place we've been to play. The noise is unbelievable. And you are going to be up against a great team and a great coach.
  • Dye would be without RB Bo Jackson - out for the season following shoulder surgery.
  • Bowden: Auburn is as good as any team in the country. Despite losing Jackson, I think they have adjusted well and are back in the race.

The visitors started the scoring.

  • Q1: Auburn's junior QB Pat Washington, a day after his 21st birthday, picked up a bobbled snap and threw 51y to Freddie Weygand on the Tigers' second play from scrimmage. That placed the ball on the 3. The Nole D made it difficult, but Brent Fullwood leaped into the EZ from the 1 three plays later. Auburn 7 FSU 0 (13:01 left in Q1).

    Freddie Weygand rejoices after catching one over Eric Riley.
    The Seminoles responded with a drive capped by Derek Schmidt's 40y FG. Auburn 7 FSU 3 (7:59)
    Auburn LB Jim Bone recovered Greg Allen's fumble at the Noles' 39 to set up a 36y FG by Robert McGinty. Auburn 10 FSU 3 (2:41)

  • Q2: The Tiger D stopped a potential scoring drive by sacking QB Eric Thomas twice for losses totaling 15y after the Noles had moved to the Auburn 25. Instead of getting points, FSU punted on 4th down from the 40. Louis Berry hit a good one that rolled out on the 6.
    That indirectly led to a TD. Lenny Chavers blocked Lewis Colbert's punt. The ball rolled out of bounds at the 3.
    The Noles scored two plays later on a 7y pass from Thomas to Pete Panton. Auburn 10 FSU 10 (9:24)
    But the tie didn't last long. Following the kickoff, Collis Campbell took a pitchout around the right side, slowed to let the blocking develop, then bolted down the sidelines for a 69y TD. Four Noles got a hand on him but hardly slowed him. McGinty missed the extra point, his first miss of the season after 13 in a row. Auburn 16 FSU 10 (9:04)
    Florida State tried a dipsy-do on the kickoff, but a long run was called back because of an illegal forward pass. That put them in a hole from which they didn't escape. Soon after, Trey Gainous returned Berry's punt 7y to the FSU 39.
    From there, the Tigers rolled into the EZ in seven plays. Washington's passes sparked the drive, and Fullwood did the honors on a 5y run. A pass for the two-point conversion failed. Auburn 22 FSU 10 (5:43)
    The Noles came right back with a 73y TD bomb from Thomas to Jessie Hestor, who had beaten the secondary and was racing in the clear when he caught the perfect throw. Auburn 22 FSU 17 (5:03)
    Shortly before halftime, FSU tried a 57y FG that was blocked.
    Total offense for the first half: FSU 242 Auburn 240

The second half started with a bang.

  • Q3: Fullwood took the kickoff at the goal line and roared out to the 25 where he was hit by two Seminoles and fumbled forward. Three Garnet-shirted defenders and two white-shirted War Eagles converged on the ball but succeeded only in popping it up to Auburn's Ed Graham who ran 60y untouched to the EZ. Auburn 29 FSU 17 (14:43)
    FSU embarked on a 66y drive that culminated in a 10y run by Darrin Holloman on a reverse. Auburn 29 FSU 24 (11:22)
    Later in the period, Thomas passed 13y to Hassan Jones to put the Seminoles ahead for the first time all evening. A pass from Thomas to Jones added two points. FSU 32 Auburn 29 (5:51)
    Coach Dye cost his team a chance for at least three points. After completing a long pass to Weygand to the FSU 18, Washington ran into the EZ, but the War Eagles were nailed for clipping. When Dye argued the call, the officials flagged him not once but twice for unsportsmanlike conduct.
    Dye in his autobiography: We used a split officiating crew, half SEC, half All-South independents ... There were always problems between the two crews. ... Anyway, the score is raging back and forth and, finally, we get in the third quarter. They run a reverse. The Florida State QB clips our defensive end. The official on our sideline was standing right on top of the play. And I'm close enough to talk to him. He said he saw the hit was a clip, but it wasn't his call to make. It was the referee's. And the referee - both these two officials were Independent officials - the referee said it was a clean block. I mean the QB hit our end, dead center, right in the back. They scored, and they went ahead.
    So we took the ball, and we came right back down the field and scored. But the last 12 yards, Pat Washington ran a bootleg, or waggle, where we fake one way and pull both guards the other way, and Pat got outside. The strong safety came up and played the run, and our guard actually hit him right in the numbers on his chest, knocking him out of bounds; as he fell, the kid turned his back and might have ended up being pushed from behind.
    Now the same official who wouldn't call clipping on the other side of the ball, throws his flag: 15 yards. No touchdown.
    I'm trying to get this official to explain to me why he could call clipping on our run and couldn't call it on Florida State's run. I get a 15-yard penalty. Well, that's 15 yards for the clip, and 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct on me. I'm still trying to get him to explain, and he calls the referee over there, and I'm trying to get
    him to explain, and he drops his flag, so that's another 15 yards. I look up at the scoreboard, and it reads: first down and 55 yards to go. I turned to (offensive coordinator) Jack Crowe, and I said: "You got a good first-and-55 call?"
    The Tigers' possession ended with a punt from their own 41.
  • Q4: Early in the quarter, Florida State extended its lead on a 34y FG by Schmidt. FSU 35 Auburn 29 (13:43)
    The Tigers put together a 77y, nine-play drive to go ahead again. Kyle Collins ran the final 10y around LE, diving at the pylon. Auburn 36 FSU 35 (
    10:47)
    Undaunted, the Seminoles responded with a 76y march of their own in eight plays. A 15y pass from Thomas to Jones regained the lead. Bowden ordered a two-point conversion, a move that proved costly when Thomas was sacked. FSU 41 Auburn 36 (7:44)
    The defenses finally restored some order to the proceedings, each side forcing a punt.
    Finally, Auburn took over at its 24 with 3:20 remaining. Washington completed clutch passes for a total of 53y to Weygand to the 29 and TE Jeff Parks to the 13. In between, Pat ran 6y on a bootleg on 4th-and-3 from the 30 to keep the drive alive. Fullwood then got loose around RE from the 13 to the 5. From there, Brent took a quick pitch and, finding no room at RT, broke it outside and, with two Seminoles converging, hurled his body at the flag. An errant pass kept Auburn one-point up. Auburn 42 FSU 41 (0:48)
    Dye: The Independent officials made one too many rulings, and it ... might have cost FSU the game. We got the ball, behind, with two minutes to go. ... We completed a 35-yard pass, but the officials didn't stop the clock while they moved the chains, the way they are supposed to. I called the referee over. I said, "You need to put about 10 or 12 seconds back on the clock." I was wanting all the time we could have to get the ball in the end zone. The referee shook his head; he wouldn't do it ... We scored with 48 seconds left to play.
    We kicked off. Gerald Robinson sacked their quarterback, Eric Thomas, two times for minus 27 yards. ... And the last play of the game, he completed a long pass to about our 25 or 30 yard lne. It put them in field goal range, and they were only one point behind, 42-41. But they had
    no time left. If the referee had put those 12 seconds back on the clock in the last two minutes, like he was supposed to, FSU might have beaten us.
    I don't know if I could live through another game like it.

Postgame

Florida State

  • Bowden recalled the previous year's 27-24 loss. This was a tough loss to take. We had our chances, but I'll tell you, this Auburn football team never quit. Just like last year, they just came back and snatched that victory. It was not a broken play this year or broken coverages, they just did it. ... I hated to lose this game, especially for our kids. They played their everlasting hearts out.
    Bowden three years later: The thing I remember most about that game was their quarterback had not been an effective passer anytime before. But he was against us. On the first play he threw that ball way downfield and we had perfect position, but Freddy Weygand took the ball away from our guy ... I had felt we would beat Auburn in Tallahassee.

Auburn

  • Dye: This game was unbelievable. We've never ever been in one like this one. Florida State's probably used to these ... we're not. I didn't expect it at all ... Lord, have mercy. This was the all-timer. ... This game tonight, considering how our players fought back, may be as satisfying as any game I've ever been associated with. I don't know enough words to describe how happy I am for this football team. I saw this team come up with big play after big play in the second half to win this game.
    Dye recalled: Collis Campbell played the game of his life at halfback. And Pat Washington played good, I mean, good. You got to picture it down there at night: the crowd's on top of you in that steel stadium. A wild Indian, painted all over, rares up on a horse and throws a flaming spear in the ground. Drums are beatin'. That damn chant is goin' in the stands. They got a huge flaming feather on the scoreboard that measures the noise level, and it's lit up like a world war. Now all you go to do is go out there and whip one of the best football teams in America.
  • Fullwood on the game winner: That's probably the biggest touchdown I've ever scored in my life. This is the greatest feeling in the world. We beat a damn good football team tonight. But then we're a damn good football team too.
  • Washington completed only 8 of 23 passes but for 199y without an INT. We really needed it bad on that last drive. We united as an offense, and there was no way they were going to stop us.

Watch Auburn highlights of the game


Auburn fans celebrate victory.
References: In the Arena, Pat Dye with John Logue (1992)
Seminoles!: The First Forty Years, Bill McGrotha
Where Tradition Began: The Centennial History of Auburn Football, Wayne Hester (1991)
Profile: Warrick Dunn - I
Future Seminole RB Warrick Dunn was born in New Orleans in 1975 but grew up in Baton Rouge from infancy.
  • He was the oldest child of Betty Smothers, who would have six children by three different fathers, none of whom were involved in the rearing of the children.
  • Warrick wrote in his autobiography, Mom met the man who would become my father while running track at Scotlandville (High School). Apparently he was also an incredible athlete ... Mom was just eighteen when she had me, and obviously that put an end to her athletic career.
  • He also recalled his mother's dedication to her family. It wasn't uncommon for my mother ... to work fourteen- to sixteen-hour days. As a Baton Rouge police officer, Mom often took on off-hours security work at department stores, convenience stores, and football games to make ends meet ...
  • As the oldest child, Warrick took on much of the responsibility of looking after his siblings while his mother worked long hours.
  • Because he was the "man of the house," Warrick became his mother's best friend and vice-versa.

Warrick showed exceptional athletic ability from an early age.

  • Whether it was foot races, bicycle races, baseball, football, or basketball, Dunn excelled.
  • His career in organized football started at age nine. His coach didn't want to give Warrick a uniform because he thought he was too small. Naturally, I was the smallest player on the football field and weighed all of fifty pounds soaking wet ...This marked the first time in a journey that has continued until today, where I had to prove myself because of my size.
  • Size was no problem with the K-Y Track Club at Southern University.
  • Warrick attended various public and private schools in Baton Rouge through eighth grade.

Dunn's life changed dramatically when he moved to Catholic High School as a freshman in 1989.

  • I was zoned for Istrouma Senior High School, but the best education and best athletic teams were at Catholic High. It was an easy decision for Mom. She wanted me to be a Catholic High School Bear.
  • But attending CHS brought a culture shock - dress code, nightly homework, requirements for community service, a yearly retreat.
  • The yearly tuition was just under $6,000, which my mom couldn't afford, but she paid as much as she could when she could.
  • It took him some time to adjust academically. To be eligible to play sports, each student needed at least a C average. My average hovered around a D, if not below, my first nine weeks as a freshman. Now, D wasn't for dummy in my case. D was for doggone lazy with a capital D.
  • He started at QB for the JV team and the team was undefeated until Dunn was ruled ineligible for the final few football games because of poor grades. Also, he didn't run track that spring.
  • Betty challenged her son: Was he going to show everyone at Catholic High that he could make good grades or did he want to return to public school and save her the tuition money?
  • Warrick buckled down and slowly dug himself out of trouble. By the end of his freshman year, he had pulled his GPA up to 2.4.

Warrick played varsity football for three years starting in tenth grade.

  • As a sophomore, he was beaten out for the TB position by his good friend Kevin Franklin.
  • Warrick: I admit that didn't sit too well with me. I was a jack-of-all-trades my sophomore and junior years and played primarily QB my senior year. Coach (Dale) Weiner wanted my versatility at QB because we ran the option offense ... I didn't have a great arm, but I guess I had enough overall talent to make the offense work and throw the football when I needed to. But I wasn't a happy camper. My first love was to play at tailback ...
  • Dunn started at CB his junior year before switching to QB as a senior. He also put in time at FB and receiver and even returned kicks his final year.
  • The Bears reached the 1990 Class 4A state championship game but were clobbered by Ruston High 52-10 in the Superdome. Warrick ended the year with 1,541 rushing yards on 155 carries and 21 TDs. He also passed for 701y and four TDs. He averaged 27.7y per kickoff return and had 27 tackles and three INTs on defense. He made All-State in the highest classification (5A). He also earned a Honorable Mention All-USA by USA Today. However, Kevin was named to the first Parade All-American team.
  • He also helped CHS win state track titles his sophomore year (indoor and outdoor) and senior year (outdoor). Legendary coach Pete Boudreaux used Warrick for the lead leg on the 4 x 100 relay team that set a school record. Individually, he finished third in state as a junior with a 10.5 in the 100m and second in the 55 m indoor (6.40).

Recruiting analyst Tom Lemming rated Dunn the ninth-best TB and the third-best "athlete" in the nation.

  • Plenty of college coaches visited the school to recruit Kevin and Warrick. That number included LSU, Texas, Alabama, Florida State, Southern Cal, and Tennessee.
  • He and his mother planned his recruiting visits to determine where he would fulfill his childhood dream. They scheduled a drive to Tuscaloosa for the first Saturday in the new year.

But a catastrophe January 7, 1993, two days after Warrick's 18th birthday, changed his life forever.

  • 36-year-old Betty Smothers, acting as an off-duty officer escorting a businesswoman to a bank to make a night deposit, was killed by three armed robbers. Suddenly, Warrick became the head of his family.
  • He told a family friend, Greg Brown, that I planned to stay home and take care of my family, that college football was no longer an option. Greg told me my mother wouldn't be happy with that decision.
  • The Catholic High community rallied around him. Coach Weiner was struck by Warrick's maturity. He called it remarkable, saying he would have though I was a forty-five-year-old man in charge. I was businesslike, absorbed in the details that needed to be done for our family.
  • Pete Boudreaux encouraged Warrick to go to college and play football. Betty's mother would look after his sisters and brothers.

Dunn decided to continue with the plan he and his mother had crafted.

  • Greg Brown accompanied him on his official visit to Florida State two weeks after Betty's death.
  • I had a genuine connection with Coach Bowden when we met in his office, and I immediately knew I wanted to be a Seminole. Coach said he would try to take care of me, and I believed him. I also knew Mom wanted me to be a Seminole, too. There were many people who believed I needed to stay at home and attend Louisiana State, and I admit the thought crossesd my mind, too. But as I sat in Coach Bowden's office and looked around, I knew. FSU felt like the perfect fit.
  • On National Signing Day, less than a month after his mother's murder, Dunn became part of Florida State's recruiting class that was voted #1 in the country.
  • Warrick was criticized by some in Louisiana who said he owed the community for the help and support it showed following his mother's death. The implication was that he should have taken LSU's offer as Kevin Franklin did.

Continued below ...

References: Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond, Warrick Dunn and Don Yaeger (2008)

Young Warrick Dunn


Betty Smothers and her son,
Warrick Dunn


Dunn at Catholic High


Dale Weiner


Pete Boudreaux


Warrick's grandmother


Kevin Franklin

Profile: Warrick Dunn - II


Warrick Dunn


Bobby Bowden and Charlie Ward


Doug Williams in Super Bowl


Sean Jackson


Derrick Brooks


Dunn vs Georgia Tech


Ward throws vs Miami


Ward tries to fend off Notre Dame tackler



Dunn scores clinching TD vs Florida


Ward Under Duress in Orange Bowl


Drenched Bowden after Orange Bowl win

When Warrick Dunn arrived at Florida State for his freshman year in 1993, the football staff assigned him to room with senior QB Charlie Ward in the athletic dorm.
  • Warrick recalled: It's amazing that a forty-minute telephone call can forge an immediate bond between two guys who had never met face to face. But that's what happened when Charlie Ward and I talked to each other for the first time on the telephone. I had signed with Florida State a few months earlier, in February, and I was headed to Tallahassee from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, to take the first step of my freshman season with the Seminoles.
    A mutual acquaintance of Dunn and Ward facilitated their friendship. Doug Williams, the Grambling graduate who became the first black starting QB in a Super Bowl, had known Warrick's mother since they were teenagers growing up outside Baton Rouge. Williams had met Charlie two years earlier in an airport and struck up a friendship. When Doug learned that Warrick had signed with FSU, he called Charlie and asked him to keep an eye on Dunn. What better way to keep an eye on him than to have him as your roommate?
  • Dunn on his special relationship with Ward: We had that connection between us. I really can't explain it other than to say it was special. We were a lot alike. We were more interested in hanging around our place in Burt Reynolds Hall than going out and socializing. That first telephone call between us would have stunned people who thought we were two reserved, soft-spoken guys who didn't say peep to anyone. We had grown so close so quickly that we knew each other's thoughts and actions on and off the field.

Although recruited as a cornerback, Dunn had been promised by Coach Bobby Bowden that he would get a look at TB despite the fact that the Seminoles were loaded at that position..

  • Senior Sean Jackson from New Orleans was the returning starter, although junior Tiger McMillon had led the team in rushing in 1992 with 579y to Jackson's 489.
  • Also in the mix was Marquette Smith, a prep All-American from Winter Park FL who was named the 1990 High School Football Player of the Year by Gatorade and Offensive Player of the Year by USA Today after averaging 8.4 ypc and gaining 7,629 all-purpose yards in his high school career with 62 TDs in his last two seasons. After carrying the ball just 22 times as a freshman, Smith had redshirted his second year.
  • Joining Warrick in the freshman class was Rock Preston, who was Dunn's twin sizewise. Warrick: 5-8 172; Rock 5-8 176. Rock and I had to learn the offense as quickly as possible if we wanted to contribute. And I wanted to contribute.
  • Dunn caught a break because of his competitors' bad fortunes. Jackson and Smith were sidelined with sprained ankles while McMillon suffered a kneecap injury leaping to catch a pass in a receiving drill and was ruled out for the season. So only a week into preseason practice, Warrick ran with the first team offense. Jackson would resume that spot by the time the season started.
  • In the first scrimmage, he demonstrated he would be a weapon in the passing game when he took a screen pass and zipped into the EZ past All-American LB Derrick Brooks, who ripped off his helmet and took a knee in frustration.
  • That ended any thoughts that Bowden had of moving Dunn to the secondary even though that unit had lost two potential starters to season-ending knee injuries.
    Warrick: I wasn't intimidated on the field or by the surroundings. I just wanted to contribute.

The Seminoles began the 1993 season ranked #1 in the country.

  • They romped over Kansas 42-0 in the opener as the Baton Rouge sensation went 18y on his first collegiate carry after breaking a tackle in the backfield. He ended with 45y on seven carries.
    Dunn: It was so cool to finally be playing at Florida State. It's something that I always wanted to do, and here I was, fulfilling a dream that my mother and I shared.
  • The defending ACC champion Noles began their second year in the conference with a 45-7 pounding of Duke in rainy Durham NC. Warrick gained nothing on two runs but gathered in two passes for 66y with one a 57-yarder.
  • The home opener brought another rout, 57-0 over Clemson, the Tigers' worst loss in 62 years. Dunn scored the first TD of his college career on a 16y pass from Ward, his only reception of the day. He added 46y on seven carries.
  • The rampage through the conference continued with a 33-7 pasting of North Carolina in Chapel Hill. Warrick scored on another 16y pass from his roommate and added 28 more yards on three rushes and two more catches.
  • The Seminoles had needed a Q4 rally in 1992 to defeat Georgia Tech in Atlanta but had no trouble with the Jackets the following year in Tallahassee, 51-0. Dunn's stat line read: 7 carries for 32y plus two receptions for 28 with three TDs - 14 and 4y runs and a 7y pass completion.

Next came the contest that had become the biggest game on the schedule every year, with bearing on the national championship as well as settling supremacy in the state of Florida.

  • The Miami Hurricanes came to Tallahassee ranked #3 after two straight undefeated regular seasons that included wins over Florida State decided by a made or missed FG in the last minute.
  • Before the record crowd of 77,813 settled into their seats, Jackson swept RE and race 69y to give FSU the lead just 3:43 into the game.
  • The Hurricanes answered with an 9-play, 80y drive to tie the score
  • But the Seminoles unleashed their Fast Break Offense and retook the lead in just three plays. Ward scrambled out of the pocket and lofted a pass over two UM defenders to a streaking Matt Frier, who took the ball in stride for a 72y TD.
  • Charlie put FSU 14 points ahead in Q2 when he scrambled in from the 2. The key play in the drive came on 3rd-and-7 from the FSU 43 when Dunn lined up next to Charlie in the shotgun. Instead of snapping the ball to Ward, C Clay Shiver hiked it straight to Dunn, who raced 27y through the surprised defense for the 1st down.
  • After a scoreless Q3, Miami narrowed the gap to 21-10 with a FG less than a minute into the final period.
  • After the defenses prevailed on the next three possessions, FSU SS Devin Bush, a Miami native, salted the game away with a 40y INT return.
  • The victory was just the Noles' second in the last nine tries against the Canes.

After jumping over the Miami snake, the Seminoles returned to beating up their ACC foes.

  • FSU 40 Virginia 14; Dunn: 5-30 rushing, 1-28 receiving
  • FSU 54 Wake Forest 0; Dunn's biggest game thus far- 8-162 rushing, including TDs of 63 and 5y.
  • FSU 49 Maryland 20; Dunn: 10-46 rushing, 3-14 receiving

That set the stage for the clash the nation had been waiting for since the beginning of the season: #1 Florida State @ #2 Notre Dame

  • The game lived up to its billing. Unfortunately, the Fighting Irish prevailed 31-24, ending FSU's school-record 16-game winning streak.
  • Notre Dame broke a 7-7 tie with 14 Q2 points and a FG early in Q3 to take a 24-7 lead.
  • Warrick scored on a 6y swing pass from Ward to narrow the gap to 10. Then a FG cut it to 7.
  • But the Irish scored what proved to be the winning TD with 6:53 left.
  • That allowed them to survive another Ward TD pass with 2:26 left.
  • The game ended with a defender batting down Charlie's pass into the EZ.
  • Warrick contributed only 18y to the FSU offense.
  • The AP voters reversed the places of the Irish and Noles with undefeated Nebraska lurking at #3. Writers talked about the possibility of a rematch in the Fiesta Bowl for the national championship.

The Noles took out their frustration on North Carolina State.

  • Dunn, one of seven ball carriers and ten receivers who entered the stat column, gained just 31 of the Noles' 553y of offense. He did score a Q4 TD on a 10y pass from third-string QB Jon Stark.
  • But the good news of the day was Notre Dame shocking loss to Boston College at home. That opened the door for FSU to move back to #1 with undefeated Nebraska #2 and Notre Dame third..
    Dunn: We made easy work of North Carolina State ... but who would have thunk it? Boston College upset Notre Dame, which put us back in the driver's seat in the national-title race. But we knew we couldn't really celebrate, not with rival Florida up next in our regular-season finale ...

Warrick made his biggest play of the year in the annual season-ender at Florida.

  • The Noles quieted the Gainesville crowd by jumping out to a 13-0 lead and then a 27-7 margin.
  • But two straight TDs brought UF to within 27-21 with 5:58 remaining.
  • With momentum of the Gators' side and the home crowd deafening, Ward hooked up with Warrick for the play of the game.
  • Facing 3rd and 10 from his own 21, Charlie made a play action fake, then eluded a pair of defenders as he rolled to his left and lofted a soft toss toward Dunn on the left side. The freshman caught the ball in stride, picked up a key block from WR Tamarick Vanover, and raced down the sidelines for a 79y score and an insurmountable 33-21 lead.
  • Dunn finished with 140y on 8 catches and 33 more on six runs.
    Warrick remembered the big play in his autobiography. Because of our connection as friends and roommates, Charlie and I connected on that 79-yard touchdown pass that helped us quiet Florida Field and beat the Gators.

Florida tackler horse-collars Dunn.

The Orange Bowl paired Nebraska and Florida State for the national championship.

  • In the meantime, Charlie Ward won the Heisman Trophy for 1993.
  • Florida State AD announced that Charlie's number 17 jersey (the same number that Doug Williams wore for the Redskins) would be retired.

The Noles were tabbed as 17-point favorites to defeat the Cornhuskers for the second straight season in the Orange Bowl.

  • The talk beforehand was that one of the two great coaches, Bobby Bowden or Tom Osborne, would win his first national championship.
  • The Noles prevailed but it wasn't easy as the Nebraska defense did a great job of containing Bowden's high-powered O.
  • Trailing 15-7 heading into Q4, the Huskers ralled with a TD on the first play of the period. A two-point conversion run failed - an outcome that would prove fatal to the Big 12 school.
  • Then a FG with only 1:16 remaining put Nebraska in front 18-16.
  • Ward got the opportunity to prove that he deserved the Heisman. Starting at the 35 after the kickoff went out of bounds, Charlie went to work. A key play was another Ward-to-Dunn connection that gained 21y to the NU 33. As Warrick went out of bounds, a defender pushed him, drawing a 15y roughness penalty.
  • Two plays later, an interference call put the ball on the 3. After a loss of 2, Bowden decided to take no further chances and sent out K Scott Bentley, who boomed the 22y game-winner with 21 seconds left.
    Dunn: While I only rushed one time for 3 yards and had two receptions for 30 yards - Nebraska did a great job in its coverage schemes - it was an incredible feeling to win a national title. As we poured into the locker room, it was great to share the moment with your teammates.
    And, of course, I knew exactly where to look for Charlie.
    We had that connection.

Dunn's statistics for the 1993 season:
68 rushes for 511y (7.5pc) 4 TD, 25 receptions for 357y (14.3) and 6 TD.
Warrick finished second behind Jackson in rushing yards.
His 10 TDs led the Noles.

Continued below ...

References: Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond,
Warrick Dunn and Don Yaeger (2008)
Profile: Warrick Dunn - III

The 1994 Florida State Seminoles defended their ACC championship but not their national championship.

  • With TB Sean Jackson having graduated, sophomore Warrick Dunn nearly doubled his yardage from his freshman season.

    Bold = team leader
      Rushing Receiving
    Year Att Yds Avg TD Rec Yds Avg TD
    1993 68 511 7.5 4 25 357 14.3 6
    1994 152 1026 6.8 8 34 308 9.1 1

  • The Noles started the season ranked #4 and rose to #3 as they traveled to the Orange Bowl for their annual game with Miami of the Big East Conference. Once again the Hurricanes knocked off an unbeaten FSU squad. There was no "wide right" this time but instead five turnovers that led to a 34-20 defeat. Warrick gained only 32y on eight carries and caught just a single pass for 2y.
  • But five straight victories clinched the ACC title before a 31-31 tie with Florida that FSU fans considered a victory since QB Danny Kanell sparked a furious 28-point Q4 comeback in Doak Campbell Stadium.
  • Since the annual rivalry wasn't decided on the field, the Sugar Bowl invited the Gators and Noles to play the "Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter." Playing in his home state, Dunn earned MVP honors by rushing 14 times for 58y, catching nine passes for 51, and throwing a 73y TD pass in the 23-17 triumph.
  • The 10-1-1 Noles finished #4 in the final AP poll, their eighth straight top four finish.

Warrick's 1995 season is remembered for one carry in Game #8 at Virginia.

  • The Seminoles started atop the AP poll and stayed there through the first seven games.
  • FSU extended its record in ACC games to 29-0, leading pundits to label the conference as "Florida State and the Eight Dwarfs."
  • The Noles were 18-point favorites on a Thursday evening in beautiful Charlottesville. Let Warrick describe what happened.

We knew Virginia was ready; they were jacked to play us. Virginia had dropped two games earlier in the season on the game's final play, and George Welsh, in his twenty-third season as a Division I coach, had a team with plenty of star power in Tiki and Ronde Barber and Anthony Poindexter.
It was a cool autumn night, and the overflow crowd of 44,300 at Scott Stadium was excited. ... it was a battle from start to finish. We led 7-0 and 14-7 early, but trailed 33-21 late. We couldn't stop Tiki, who finished with 311 all-purpose yards, and our offense, which averaged 56.1 points per game, was slowed by our own mistakes. But we never stopped working.
I scored on a 7-yard sweep to cap a four-play, 88-yard drive with 6:13 to play. Down 33-28 with possession at our own 20-yard line and 1:37 remaining, QB Danny Kanell moved us across midfield to the Virginia 11-yard line with 13 seconds left. Kanell spiked the ball on first down to stop the clock, but the Cavaliers were whistled for having too many men on the field. That gave us possession at the 6-yard line. Kanell threw out of the end zone on the next play.
With four seconds left, we had time to run one last play. I stood next to Kanell in the shotgun formation, and center Clay Shriver, on a designed play called a direct snap, snapped the ball to me instead of Danny. I was surprised when the play wa called in the huddle, but I thought it could work. It looked like we had Virginia's defense sealed off. I sprinted off right tackle toward the end zone. I thought I scored the winning touchdown on the play, but officials ruled that I was stopped inches shy of the goal line by Poindexter and safety Adrian Burnim. Virginia cornerback Ronde Barber trailed the play and was told by an official near the play that the ball had touched the ground before I crossed the goal line.
My upper body was actually in the end zone, but the ball, knocked loose as I was tripped at the last second and lunged forward, was near my waist. Virginia's crowd erupted, and it seemed like everyone rushed the field. We just wanted to get off the field as fast we could so nobody got hurt. Fans tore down the goalposts and carried them above their heads and out of the stadium. Our locker room was so quiet you could hear a tear drop. And there were plenty of tears.

  • But Warrick didn't have time to cry. He had to fly to Baton Rouge to testify in the sentencing phase of the trial of one of the men who killed his mother. He told the Assistant District Attorney that he didn't want to testify because he didn't want his fame as an athlete to be exploited. She said I was Betty's son, and that I would represent my mother as her son - and not as an athlete - on the witness stand. Impressed by what Warrick and his younger brother told them about losing their mother, the jury took less than an hour to return the death penalty. Warrick: In a few days I returned to Tallahassee, where football fans were still dissecting our defeat at Virginia and calling it a heartbreaking loss. My heart had been broken two years earlier and all I felt was emptiness.

The Seminoles bounced back to win their remaining two conference games and tie Virginia for first place in the conference.

  • Florida beat the Noles 35-24 in Gainesville to get revenge for the Sugar Bowl defeat.
  • The Noles got an Orange Bowl bid, their 14th post-season appearance in a row, and defeated Notre Dame 31-26. They continued their amazing streak of Top Four finishes in the AP poll.
  • Warrick ended the season with 1242y rushing, a school record, and 294 receiving. He scored 16 TDs, his best performance of his three-year career.
  • He was now within 991y of the FSU career rushing record of 3,760 held by Greg Allen (1981-84).

Dunn now faced a major decision: Should he return for his senior year or depart early for the NFL?

  • He was projected as a first- or second-round selection in the April draft, the highest of any FSU TB since Sammie Smith left FSU following his junior season in 1988.
  • Warrick recalled: After the Orange Bowl, I flew home to Baton Rouge to be with my family and discuss my future. Actually, it was to reinforce a decision I had already made prior to our bowl game. I understood the importance of education. It was a value that I had preached to my brothers and sisters following my mom's murder three years earlier. Plus, during my senior year at Catholic High, I promised Mom that I would attend college and graduate. I was about to break that promise. Education was my top priority. ... I also saw what type of team we had coming back and I thought we had a better chance of winning a national championship. Plus, I had thirty-five credit hours left after the spring semester and was on course to get my degree in Information Technologies. I believed another year in school wouldn't hurt anything. The money? I hadn't had money for twenty-one years, so what was another year?
  • Dunn had told Coach Bobby Bowden that he was leaning toward returning for another season but asked him to keep it a secret.
  • After returning from Baton Rouge, Dunn announced his decision to stay at a press conference. The crowd erupted in applause.

To be continued ...

References: Running for My Life: My Journey in the Game of Football and Beyond,
Warrick Dunn and Don Yaeger (2008)



Warrick Dunn 1995


Danny Kanell


1996 Sugar Bowl program



Tiki and Ronde Barber and their mom


Lewis Tyre (66) celebrates what he thinks is a Dunn TD at Virginia.