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2006 Orange Bowl - Battle of Septuagenarians

Jeff Bowden

Willie Reid returns punt vs Virginia Tech

Gary Cismesia

Paul Posluszny

Bowden and Paterno before kickoff

Drew Weatherford

Willie Reid in Orange Bowl

Joe Washington runs.

Michael Robinson

Pat Watkins tackles Austin Scott.

Tony Carter intercepts in Q1.

Deon Butler upends Carter after his INT.

Washington tackled.

Lorenzo Booker runs to EZ.

Ethan Kilmer catches TD pass over Carter right before the 1st half ends.

Kevin Kelly

Alan Zemaitis after his Q2 INT.

TE Matt Henshaw stiffarms Posluszny after catching Q3 pass.

Cismesia misses FG in OT.

Kelly misses FG in OT.

Willie Reid with MVP Trophy.

Bobby Bowden's 2005 Seminoles won the first-ever ACC Championship Game over Virginia Tech to earn the right to represent the conference in the Orange Bowl

  • The team suffered three conference losses to Virginia, North Carolina State, and Clemson.
  • But the Atlantic Division was so weak that the Noles tied with Boston College for first place and went to the championship game by virtue of their victory over the Eagles.
  • Virginia Tech won the Coastal Division outright when Miami, which handed the Hokies their only conference loss, was upset late in the season by Georgia Tech in a game that had been postponed by Hurricane Wilma.
  • Tech came into the ACC Championship Game in Jacksonville ranked #5 with a 10-1 mark. Florida State limped into the contest at #23 in both the AP and Coaches polls after getting belted by Florida in Gainesville 34-7 for their third straight loss to end the regular season.
  • The Seminoles entered the title game with a chip on their shoulder after withering criticism from the press, especially centered on offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, Bobby's son. And Bobby himself, once sacrosanct, endured censure because of 19 losses in the last five seasons.
  • But critics didn't take into account the fact that the most important unit on any team, the O-line, was riddled with injuries, leaving the Noles with only six healthy "big uglies."
  • After a 3-3 tie at halftime, FSU exploded for 24 unanswered points in Q3 starting with an 89y punt return TD by Willie Reid. Then an INT set up another six-pointer. A punt downed on the VTU 1 led to a 41y FG by Gary Cismesia. Finally, a fumble recovery deep inside Tech territory started a drive to the third TD of the period.
  • Trailing 27-3, Frank Beamer's squad rallied in the final period but fell five points short. Watch the complete game ...

#22 Florida State earned the ACC's guaranteed bid to the Orange Bowl despite the fact that the Noles' record was inferior to all the other seven teams in BCS bowls.

  • When told right after the victory over Virginia Tech that his Noles would probably face Joe Paterno's Penn State Nittany Lions in the Orange Bowl, Bobby Bowden said, That old man? Is that likely to happen? Well, dadgummit. That's my luck. ... If we play them, it will be a great matchup: two old men out there trying to see who has life left in them.
  • 76-year-old Bowden was calling 79-year-old Paterno an "old man"!
  • The two old men ranked 1 and 2 in career coaching victories. The ACC title game was Bowden's 359th win, six more than Paterno.

Penn State had lost only one game, to Michigan, in 2005.

  • But that loss cost them a berth in the BCS Championship Game in the Rose Bowl.
  • So the Nittany Lions settled for the Orange Bowl.
  • Unranked to start the season, PSU, with 18 returning starters, finished the regular season ranked #3, just behind undefeated Texas and USC.
  • The offense was led by the Big Ten Offensive Player of the Year, QB Michael Robinson, who had played WR, TB, and punt returner in his first three years in Happy Valley. He accounted for 62% of the PSU offense.

The Seminoles, from Bowden down, hoped to ride the momentum from the Virginia Tech win to a victory over the Big Ten champs as a major stepping stone to returning FSU to Top 5 prominence.

  • Penn State struck Florida State coaches as a team that makes few mistakes on either side of the ball.
  • However, the Lions had given up some yards through the air - 207 per game.
  • But the flip side of that stat was that PSU had 38 sacks and 15 INTs.
  • FSU freshman QB Drew Weatherford had thrown as many INTs (17) as TDs.
  • The Seminole attack lacked balance - 1st in the ACC in passing, last in rushing.
  • So the beleaguered Jeff Bowden predicted a long night for his offense if it couldn't protect Weatherford.
  • The Nole defense would be missing senior LB A.J. Nicholson, who was dismissed from the team five days before the bowl game for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman at the team's hotel.
    WR Willie Reid explained why the Noles had to win the Orange Bowl. People won't remember the small little losing streak that we had. They wouldn't think that the game we had against Virginia Tech was a fluke. I think it would put an exclamation point on the whole season and be a good way to start the new one.

The Nittany Lions had not played since November 19.

  • Paterno: We haven't played a football team in six, seven weeks. I'm worried about that. I really am concerned about that.
  • As usual, the Lions ran the ball well behind an experienced O-line (five seniors and one junior) with four weighing 290 or more.
  • The veteran defense, one of the best in the nation, started seven seniors, three juniors, and a sophomore. PSU was 10th in the nation in run defense.
  • And it wouldn't be a Penn State defense without an All-American LB - in this case, Paul Posluszny, the Butkus Award Winner.

The last meeting between the two legendary coaches would be a classic witnessed by 77,773 on a warm evening.

Quarter 1

Florida State took the ball first. Drew Weatherford read the blitz on 3rd and 11 and hit WR Willie Reid for 22y and a first down. Then RB Joe Washington burst for 10y to move the chains again. But two incompletions and a stu ffed screen pass brought on the punt unit. Pushed back by a personal foul penalty, the Noles gave the ball to Penn State on their 34 after a poor 30y punt by Chris Hall.
But the strong FSU line pressured QB Michael Robinson and forced a 3-and-out. Reid took the punt on the 9 and raced out to the 38.
The Noles could not overcome a chop block penalty on 1st down. This time Hall boomed a 52-yarder.
With 1,000y rusher Tony Hall out with an ankle injury sustained during the opening drive, Austin Scott took his place at TB. Starting from the 15, Penn State marched smartly to a TD thanks to the running of Scott. After rushing for only 167y all season, Austin gained 25, 11, 17, and 9y before taking the pigskin in from the 2. Kevin Kelly booted the EP. Penn State 7 Florida State 0 (4:59)

Scott scores from the 2.
Needing to answer, FSU instead went 3-and-out. Hall boomed a 53y punt which, coupled with a penalty, set PSU back to its 4. After Scott gained a quick 13, Robinson took to the air. But Tony Carter intercepted on the FSU 46 and returned the ball to the PSU 47.

Carter returns his INT.
Weatherford tried what Robinson just did, but Reid was called for offensive interference - still another penalty for an FSU team that ranked 101st in penalty yardage. So three plays later, Hall punted.
Starting from the 21, PSU stayed on the ground. On 3rd down, Robinson ran the option for 7y and a 1st down at the 35 as Q1 ended.
PSU outgained FSU 121-48 in the period.
Penn State 7 Florida State 0

LB Ernie Sims tackles Robinson.
Quarter 2

The Lions moved for two more 1st downs. But a 3rd-and-14 blitz forced Robinson into intentional grounding.
Starting from the 15, the Noles broke their 3-and-out streak when Washington raced for 15y on the first play. But another flag on the next snap snuffed out the momentum. FSU was fortunate that an O-lineman fell on Weatherford's fumble as he tried to pass.

Drew Weatherford fumbles but FSU recovers.
Blitzing on all three snaps on Penn State's next possession, Mickey Andrews's defense forced a punt that Reid returned 18y to the 35.
With only 65y so far, partly because of penalties on three 1st downs, Weatherford went under C for a change and connected with WR Chris Davis for 14y to the 49. Two snaps later, Fred Rouse snagged a pass for a 1st down at the PSU 49. But the march ended when miscommunication between QB and receiver on a pass down the middle resulted in an INT by CB Alan Zemaitis.

RV Kyler Hall chases Scott.
After an 11y run by Scott, Penn State got bit by the penalty bug - a personal foul that made it 3rd-and-24. Reid took the seventh punt of the half on the 13, find an opening up the middle, and roared all the way to pay dirt - 87y, a new Orange Bowl record against a team that had given up only 107 punt return yards all season. Penn State 7 Florida State 7 (4:09)
The fired up FSU special teams stuffed the kickoff return at the 13, and the defense continued the momentum with a 3-and-out.
LB Sam McGrew, who replaced A.J. Nicholson, sported the suspended LB's initials and number on his wrist tape. Sam said after the game: The boys rallied together for A.J. A.J. called me, talked to me, and he gave us words of motivation. Even though he wasn't there with us, we fought for him.
On FSU's first play from their 43, Lorenzo Booker took a swing pass in the right flat and eluded tacklers until he bolted into the clear to the end zone. But Cismesia missed the PAT. Florida State 13 Penn State 7 (2:49)

Booker breaks free for TD.
The Lions still had time to get points. But after a 21y completion, they had to kick for the fifth straight time, the ball going out on the 3. On the 1st play, FB James Coleman was hit as he got the handoff at the 1 and was pushed back into the EZ. The replay system, in effect for bowl games, upheld the call of no safety. After a QB sneak, Paterno called another timeout. Then the same sneak-timeout sequence forced a punt from the EZ. Hall booted it cleanly to the FSU 40 with 0:17 on the clock.
PSU would have been happy to get a FG but instead got a TD. First, Robinson hit WR Jordan Norwood who went out of bounds on the 25. Then Robinson lofted a pass into the EZ to Ethan Kilmer, who was closely covered by Carter. But the defender didn't see the ball in time, and the receiver came down with it for the third TD in less than five minutes of action. Kelly's PAT put PSU ahead. Penn State 14 Florida State 13 (0:06)
Carter said afterwards, I feel like I had great position but just didn't fight hard enough to get the ball out.
Kenny O'Neill caused excitement by breaking free on the return but he was run out on the 40 as time expired.
On the way off the field, Bowden said he was happy to be only one point down. I was afraid they would get away from us.
HALTIME SCORE: Penn State 14 Florida State 13

Quarter 3

Saying the defenses were dominant in this period is an understatement. The first seven possessions were three-and-out. Then the eighth was a four-and-out when the Seminoles failed to convert a 4th-and-2 at the PSU 32.
The initial first down of the quarter came with 1:12 left as a result of an interference penalty on FSU. Then Penn State converted its first 3rd down in ten tries on the same possession to their 49. The last play of the quarter was a punt to the FSU 6.
Penn State 14 Florida State 13

Quarter 4

PSU flipping the field led to a score. On 3rd-and-8 from the 8, Weatherford was chased back into the EZ as he tried to find a receiver. With several white shirts bearing down on him, he threw wildly to his left. That brought an intentional grounding flag and a safety. Penn State 16 Florida State 13 (13:36)
To make matters worse, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the FSU sideline put the ball on the 10 for the free kick. That led to Penn State starting their possession 4y into FSU territory with a good chance to add to their lead. The Lions mounted the first sustained drive of the half, gaining four first downs to make it 1st-and-Goal from the 5. But Robinson didn't handle the snap, and Neefy Moffett fell on the ball to keep FSU within three with 9:05 to go.
Would the Noles ever make a first down in the second half? The answer is yes. On 2nd down Washington took a swing pass and wiggled to the 17 to break a streak of 23 minutes of possession time without moving the chains. Then on the 3rd-and-8 came the play the Noles were waiting for. Flushed from the pocket, Weatherford rolled right and hit Davis running beyond the defense to the PSU 41. Three snaps later, Reid caught a low pass on the sideline for another 1st down at the 25. LB Posluszny hurt his knee on a chop block while blitzing and left the game, never to return. A holding penalty bogged down the drive, and Cismesia came in for a 47y FG, the longest by 4y of his career. The ball hooked just inside the left upright to tie the game. Penn State 16 Florida State 16 (4:08)
A roughing the passer infraction, FSU's 13th penalty, immediately gave the Nittany Lions 15y to the 35. After a sack, PSU faced 3rd-and-14. But confusion in the secondary as FSU substituted led to TE Isaac Smolko taking a pass to the FSU 49. On the next play, Robinson found Norwood open to the 11. With a winning FG in their back pocket, the Lions played it safe as FSU used its final two timeouts. Finally, left-footed kicker freshman Kevin Kelly came on for a 29y chip shot. But for once, "wide left" bit FSU's opponent.
Penn State 16 Florida State 16

Overtime 1
Florida State took the ball first. A screen to Reid for 8 and a dive by FB Coleman produced a 1st down on the 14. But FSU went backwards from there. Washington lost 3, then a holding penalty on a QB scramble put the ball at the 27. Two throws to the EZ fell incomplete. So Cismesia tried a 44-yarder and just missed to the right.
Needing just a FG, PSU played conservatively and gained only 4y on three runs. So Kelly came on to redeem himself but pushed the 38y attempt a little wide left again.

Overtime 2
hit Norwood over the middle for 6. Then he overthrew Deon Butler in the EZ. But he converted on 3rd down, finding Kilmer wide open on a drag pattern to the 2. After Scott got nothing on the right side, he took an option pitch to the left into the EZ. Kelley converted. Penn State 23 Florida State 16
Weatherford started with a pass to Reid in the middle to the 14. Then he lobbed to Carr at the left sideline. The 6'5" WR jumped and grabbed the ball at the 5 and fell forward to the 2. After a sneak to the 1, senior FB B. J. Drew jumped into the EZ over RG. Penn State 23 Florida State 23

Overtime 3
Not finding a receiver, Weatherford ran for 4. Then he fired too low to an open Carr at the left sideline. On 3rd-and-6, he again threw errantly. So Cismesia tried a 38-yarder that hit the right upright.
Once again, Penn State could win with a FG. Scott lost a yard before Justin King took a swing pass to the 17. After sending his kicker out on 3rd down, Paterno called a timeout and decided to run another play. But FSU took its timeout. When play resumed, Robinson rolled right to a 1st down on the 13. Scott carried for the 26th time to the 12. Now Joe Pa sent in Kelly. The third time's the charm as he hooked the ball inside the right upright.


When they met at midfield at 1 AM, Paterno told Bowden, We're too old for this. It's almost past my bedtime. Joe added: Both teams played so hard. Bobby agreed: Both teams played as well as they could play.
Bowden finished 8-5, his worst record since 1981.
Paterno improved to 7-1 against Bobby, including 6-0 while Bowden coached West Virginia.

FSU Locker Room
Bowden: Like I told my kids, what a great to build (upon) going into next year. I thought our kids played about as hard and about as good as we could. If we could have eliminated penalties, I think we might have won the game.
On the missed kicks: Sometimes you miss at the wrong time. Joe was having that problem for a while. ... I played in a lot of bizarre games, especially when it comes to missing field goals. I think when they pick the all-time missed-field goals coach, I'll probably win that award. That is weird, but we're masters at that.
They were a much more mature football team than we were. The thing that concerned me most was their maturity. I thought that could be the difference in the ballgame, and the way we were making mistakes and getting penalties early in the ballgame. I thought that was exactly the difference.

PSU Locker Room
Paterno: One play here or one play there, and they could have had it, but we got it. It was a great football game with two teams playing as hard as they can play, and it came down to one play.
I was thinking, "When are we going to get this thing over?" I looked at my watch at one point, and it was three hours past my bedtime, and we were still playing.
Robinson: This game signified what our senior class has been through. We've been up, we've been down, but we finished out right.

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Seminole Sidelines Archives – I

Birth of the Seminoles
Dedication of Doak Campbell Stadium
Bear Was Fit to be Tied
Rock Bottom in Tallahassee
First Season
"Our team cheated ... and we still couldn't beat him."
First Bowl Game
Bobby Wouldn't Quit

Seminole Sidelines Archives – II

#1 Fan
1988 Fiesta Bowl
Are You Stupid?
Birth of the Sod Cemetery
Fred Biletnikoff
Birth of the Fast Break Offense
Memorable Game: LSU 1991
First Air Trip
First SEC Win
First Peach Bowl

Seminole Sidelines Archives – III

He Coulda Been a Star
When Johnny U Came to Tallahassee
Bobby's First Gator Win
"Most Memorable Month"
A Stand for the Ages
The "Dirty Jerseys" Game
27 Fumbles in One Game

Seminole Sidelines Archives – IV

Offside? OK, Do It Again.
Florida 1960
Two Backups Beat ASU
Profile: Ron Sellers
Colossal Upset - Almost
Losing Streak Finally Ends
First - Renegade Appears
"The Most Bizarre of His Victories"
Notre Dame Comeback #1
Notre Dame Comeback #2

Seminole Sidelines Archives – V

First Victory over Miami
Birth of "Huff the Magic Dragon"
Can Anybody Here Snap the Ball?
Same Foe, Same Score
A Big Win
First Win at Auburn
Bobby's Ties (I-IV)

Seminole Sidelines Archives – VI

#1 vs #2 Miami 1991
#1 vs #2 Notre Dame 1993
#1 vs #2 Nebraska 1994 Orange Bowl
#1 vs #2 Florida 1996
#1 vs #2 Tennessee 1998
#1 vs #2 Virginia Tech 1999
#1 vs #2 Oklahoma 2000

Seminole Sidelines Archives – VII

First Game against Florida
First Game at Michigan
Maybe the Video Wasn't Such a Good Idea
Live by the Rooskie, Die by the Rooskie
Profile: Jameis Winston

First Undefeated Season (I-IV)
"The Zaniest Game in Miami's History"
When Bowden Faced Saban

Seminole Sidelines Archives – VIII

Auburn Fires the Last Shot
Profile: Warrick Dunn - I, II, III, IV

Seminole Sidelines Archives – 1979 Bobby's First Undefeated Season

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