Florida State Bowl Games
 1955 Sun Bowl vs Texas Western
"The boys had ... maybe too much of a good time."
Florida State's 1954 Season
Tom Nugent's second season as Florida State head coach began with high expectations. 20 lettermen returned from the '53 squad, which finished the season 5-5. Also, many promising newcomers were included among the more than 100 candidates who showed up for fall workouts.
Sophomore HB Lee Corso from Miami would finish second on the team in rushing behind senior HB Billy Graham from Bogalusa LA. Senior Harry Massey was the top passer, completing 50-of-90 for 750y and 10 touchdowns. 6'7" junior E Tom Feaster was the main target with 28 catches for 442y and six scores.
The '54 Seminoles finished the season with an 8-3 record. The losses came in the first two games to Georgia (14-0) and Abilene Christian Wildcats (13-0) and in Game 6 at Auburn (33-0). The biggest victories were at Louisville (47-6), at North Carolina State (13-7), and at home against Mississippi Southern (19-18). Nugent praised the Noles' improvement during the season. "This was a team that just got better and better."
The Opponent
That earned them an invitation to the 20th annual Sun Bowl in El Paso TX to face Texas Western (today's UTEP) from the Border Conference. The Miners of Coach Mike Brumbelow were 7-3, including five straight wins to end the season. Two of the losses were on the road at Arizona State and Texas Tech. Key wins came at North Texas State and at home against Arizona.
Brumbelow portrayed the Sun Bowl as the Texas country boys vs the Florida city slickers. He joked about his defense's preparation for the innovative I-formation offense that Nugent brought to Tallahassee from VMI. "These Seminole Indians from Florida State are mighty rough. We tried to work out a defense for all the fancy stuff they use, but we just had to give up. I finally told my boys just to spread out all over that field."
The oddsmakers ignored Brumbelow's poor-mouthing his team and established the Miners as a three-touchdown favorite.
The Seminoles flew on a chartered plane to El Paso three days after Christmas. They found the trip to be most entertaining with daily excursions across the Rio Grande to Juarez, Mexico for shopping, bull fights, and dining. After the game, Seminole partisans suspected their heroes had spent too much time partying and not enough time preparing for the opponent.

L-R: Tom Nugent, Lee Corso, Billy Graham, Harry Massey
The Game
First Quarter
The 15,000 spectators had barely settled into their seats when the underdog Seminoles took the lead in the first four minutes. Lee Corso returned a punt 25y and shortly afterward ripped off a 48y run through tackle to the four. After Corso picked up 2y, the Seminoles shifted into their I formation, and QB Henry Massey plunged over. Billy Graham booted the extra point. Florida State 7 Texas Western 0
The Miners answered immediately. On Western's third snap, FSU's Graham leaped at his 30 and deflected a long pass from QB Jesse Whittenton into the hands of Rusty Rutledge, who caught it on the run for a 56y touchdown. Whittenton's conversion tied the score. Florida State 7 Texas Western 7
First Period Action

Texas Western QB Jesse Whittenton (fourth from right) tries a keeper around left end but gains only one yard.

FSU's Tom Feamster bowls over Reeves Tevis of Texas Western after taking a pass from QB Harry Massey to gain 7y.
Second Quarter
The most miserable quarter in FSU history started unraveling on the second play when Carl Green fumbled a Western punt, and Bob Forrest recovered for the Miners at the FSU 24. To make matters worse, Corso was bowled over by Forrest trying to recover the ball and was taken off on a stretcher and to the hospital with a leg injury. FSU's best back would not return to the fray.
The Miners took advantage of the short field to take the lead in six plays. On third down, Whittenton skirted right end for 15y. On the next third down, he swept that side again for 7y and the touchdown. Texas Western 13 Florida State 7
A terrible 14y Massey punt set up Western in great shape again. On the second snap, Bob Forrest zipped up the middle 45y to pay dirt. Texas Western 20 Florida State 7
As another example of whatever can go wrong will go wrong, Vic Prinzi shanked a punt 13y to set up the Miners at the FSU 44. Four plays later from the 19, Whittenton, getting no pressure on his throws, connected with Dick Forrest, Bob's twin, standing by himself in the end zone. Texas Western 27 Florida State 7
The textbook example of how not to win a football game continued when Massey fired a pass into the hands of Bob Forrest at the FSU 36. With time growing short in the half, Whittenton took to the air and connected four times on six attempts. The score came on a 16y pass that threaded the needle down the middle to Rutledge between two defenders in the end zone. Texas Western 34 Florida State 7

L-R: Jesse Whittenton, Vic Prinzi, Len Swantic, Tom Feamster
Third Quarter
The lead reached 34 points before the Seminoles scored their second touchdown. Western scored in five plays on their first possession. Rutledge turned a quick opener into a 38y gain to the FSU 18. Bob Forrest did the honors off tackle from the 11 to culminate a five play drive. Texas Western 41 Florida State 7
Sophomore Len Swantic came in at quarterback for FSU and led a 68y touchdown drive. Over half the yardage came on the 43y touchdown pass to Tom Feamster, the 6'7" junior end who got into the clear behind the secondary. Texas Western 41 Florida State 13
Seminole euphoria didn't last long as Bob Forrest took the kickoff on the three and fumbled amidst a "half-dozen charging Indians." But, as FSU's luck would have it, Bob picked up the pigskin on the 10, sidestepped tacklers, and streaked down the sideline to the two before Jimmie Lee Taylor ran him out of bounds. The Noles made it tough, keeping the Miners out of the end zone on the first two snaps before Whittenton bolted through right guard from the one-foot line. Texas Western 47 Florida State 13
Late in the period, Massey completed a 50y pass to Taylor, but unnecessary roughness penalties against both teams negated the gain. FSU's Al Pacifico and Jerry Jacobs as well as Western's Bob George were ejected for fisticuffs.
Fourth Quarter
Massey led a seven-play, 65y scoring march against Miners reserves. The senior from Canton MS tossed to Joe Holt and Bud Leonard for sizeable gains, then circled end on a bootleg play for 18y to the 21. After an 8y sack, he found Feaster to the 16. From there, Massey connected with Billy Odom for the touchdown. Texas Western 47 Florida State 20
The Miners staged one final drive, but it fizzled out on the FSU 21.
To no one's surprise, the sports writers voted Whittenton the outstanding player. Jesse would have a nine-year NFL career as a defensive back for the Rams and Packers.
Florida State
Coach Nugent said that inexperience hurt a lot during the 27-point second quarter onslaught. "They were ready to go quicker than we were and beat us in the first half. We didn't start blocking and tackling good enough until it was almost too late." Tom added, "I think we were prepared for the game, and they did not pull anything we hadn't seen, but they got the jump in the second period, and we never could catch up." He expressed optimism for the future since only four key players would be lost to graduation. "We learned a lot out there today, and the kids know now that bowls games are a bit different from the regular season. ... The boys have had a wonderful time, maybe too much of a good time."
Lee Corso recalled the Sun Bowl 50 years later: "I broke my fibula in that game, but the doctors thought it was a sprained ankle. They x-rayed my leg in that hospital, and I was trying to get them to x-ray my ankle. So they wrapped me up and I went dancing that night in Juarez, Mexico. It was a heck of a party."
E Ron Schomburger said this about the Sun Bowl. "I remember we had a little trouble getting used to the altitude out there. We didn't think about Texas being a little mountainous there. We had oxygen on the sideline and all that stuff." El Paso's elevation is 3,740'.
Texas Western
Miners coach Brumbelow thought "great team speed plus Whittenton" were the big differences in the game. "We had one of our better days, comparable to the game we played against Arizona."
Both coaches regretted the fisticuffs that marred the contest. Nugent thought the officials should have been quicker to spot the brewing trouble and stop it with a few timely penalties. Brumbelow said, "I was upstairs (in the press box) when matters seemed to be getting out of hand and decided to get down to the bench. The boys were a little more excited than I realized. So we called for time out as soon as possible and got permission from the officials to talk to the team. Coach Nugent talked to his men at the same time, and order was restored."
One of the 1954 Seminoles played pro football: E Tom Feamster.