He Coulda Been a Star

When Johnny U Came to Tallahassee

Bobby's First Gator Win

"Most Memorable Month" - I

"Most Memorable Month" - II

"Most Memorable Month" - III

A Stand for the Ages

The "Dirty Jerseys" Game

27 Fumbles in One Game


Seminole Sidelines I

Seminole Sidelines II

Seminole Sidelines IV

Seminole Sidelines V

Seminole Sidelines VI

Seminole Sidelines VII

Seminole Sidelines VIII

Football Magazine

Golden Rankings Home

Seminole Sidelines – III

The Puntrooskie

Bobby Bowden 1988
Bobby Bowden 1988

Coach Danny Ford, Clemson
Danny Ford

Deion Sanders, Florida State
Deion Sanders

Chip Ferguson, FSU QB

Dexter Carter, FSU
Dexter Carter

LeRoy Butler, FSU

Dayne Williams, FSU
Dayne Williams

FSU-Clemson 1988
Dayne Williams Hands to LeRoy Butler

Butler Tackled at 1
78y Later

Video of the Play

No play epitomized Bobby Bowden's audacious nature like the "Puntrooskie" at Clemson in 1988.
  • FSU's season had gotten off to a bad start. The #1-ranked Seminoles had been blown out in Miami 31-0 in the opener. They were #10 after shellacking Southern Miss 49-13.
  • The 2-0 Tigers of Coach Danny Ford were #3.
  • Both teams took the field with new pants. Clemson sported orange bottoms in which they had compiled a 14-1 record in big games. Burt Reynolds had donated white pants to his alma mater as a throwback to when he played in the 50s.
  • The steady rain that started the night before and continued throughout the contest made those new pants dirty quickly.

Clemson dominated the first half.

  • Pounding the ball on the ground, the Tigers racked up a 232-71 yardage advantage. FSU didn't make a first down rushing in the opening 30 minutes.
  • QB Rodney Williams' 7y keeper with 2:45 left before intermission culminated a 99y drive that put the home team up 14-7.

With its O struggling, Florida State needed a lift and got it from its best player.

  • Every time Deion Sanders went back to return a kick, the Clemson bench and fans taunted him with chants of "Prime Time."
  • Early in Q3, Deion took Chris Gardocki's punt and ran straight upfield through a gaping hole in the coverage 76y to tie the game. He yelled to the crowd, "How do you like me now?"
  • After getting the ball back, the Seminoles drove for the go-ahead TD. QB Chip Ferguson hit Victor Floyd for 34, then Terry Anthony for 10. Several plays later, Ferguson threw to 6-4 TE Bruce LaShane for 36y to the 1. FB Dayne Williams pushed it over for a 21-14 lead.
  • Clemson blocked Richie Andrews' FG attempt late in the quarter to keep it a one-score game. At that point, Andrews had yet to make a FG in a Garnet and Gold uniform.

With 7:28 to play, Clemson started a drive from its 34.

  • Using up five minutes, the Tigers moved through the mud to the 19. From there, FB Tracy Johnson ran it in to tie the game and send Death Valley into an uproar.
  • A clipping penalty on the kickoff set FSU back to its 15.
  • After Dexter Carter gained 6 on first down, LaSane dropped a pass. Ferguson's next pass should have been intercepted, but two defenders collided going for the ball.
  • That made it fourth-and-four on the 21 with 1:33 to play. It looked like the best the Seminoles could hope for was a tie in those days before OT.

Bowden saw it differently. He considered it an excellent time to run the trick play he had promised the team at halftime that they would use.

  • Nebraska had run the "Fumbleroosie" against Miami in the 1984 Orange Bowl. The QB took the snap under C and put the ball on the ground behind the LG, who waited a few seconds as the offense moved to the right, then picked up the ball and ran to the left for a TD. After that, "rooskie" meant a trick play throughout football.
  • An FSU graduate assistant recalled the play being run from punt formation at Arkansas State. So Bowden had the punt team practice it for the opener with Miami. However, the blowout loss provided no opportunity to call it.
  • Some Seminole assistants wanted to run the play in the first half when trailing 14-7, but Bowden decided to keep his ace up his sleeve. Bobby later explained his thinking: "No, it will score, and the score will be 14-14, and they'll go into the half mad. It will be better off if they go in ahead and they'll get overconfident. And this way, we can go in and get all over the kids."
  • Bobby told the team at halftime, "Men, keep your head up. We got the Puntrooskie." The Seminoles charged out with more energy.

As the punt team took the field, Bowden told junior S LeRoy Butler, the one designated to pick up the "fumble" and run, "Do it."

  • Butler recalled his reaction: "We're at around the 20-yard lie. We're going to do this play. Are you kidding? Nervous ain't the word. I didn't have butterflies. I had lizards."
  • Bowden remembers feeling all alone. "I made the call and there wasn't anybody around. One of the coaches was hiding under the bench, and two went inside. Can you imagine if the play doesn't work at our 21-yard line?" His philosophy was, "Boys, you can call it a 'Bowdenrooskie' if you want to. So if it fails, I get all the blame and not y'all."
  • Bowden was confident the play would work because it had fooled his own team in practice not once but twice.

If ESPN had instituted its ESPY Awards that year, what happened next would have won for Best Play.

  • Butler lined up at blocking back alongside the other blocking back just behind the C. The third back, Dayne Williams, stood two steps behind Butler while punter Tim Corlew awaited the snap as usual.
  • The C snapped the ball to Williams while Corlew jumped high to his right to make the D believe the ball had sailed over his head. The rushers took the bait, chasing after Curlew.
  • Meanwhile, Williams handed the ball forward between Butler's legs. LeRoy was supposed to stay hunched over in blocking position for three seconds to give the defenders time to clear out. "I got to the one and a half, and then I said, 'You gotta go, man.'"
  • He picked up the ball and began running down the left sideline. There was no one between him and the EZ except the punt returner, Donnell Woolford, who had run forward after Corlew's deception.
  • Woolford ran Butler down at the 1. "I was shocked," said Woolford. "I've never seen anything like that."
  • Dayne Williams plunged over on first down, but FSU was penalized for delay of game. Bowden decided not to take any more chances and sent Andrews out to kick the FG with 0:32 left. Because of the earlier block and the fact that Richie had never made a FG in a game, the 3 points was not a sure thing.
  • But Andrews booted it through. Clemson had time for several desperation plays that failed.
  • FSU had won on what ESPN's Beano Cook dubbed "the greatest play since My Fair Lady."

Danny Ford admitted afterwards that his staff considered calling timeout before the 4th down play to warn the punt return team about a fake.

  • It eventually came to light that the play had been leaked to Clemson. A few days before the game, Butler told his high school coach in Jacksonville about the rooskie. The next evening, the coach had some friends over to his house. During chit-chat, the coach told his guests what Butler had said. A Clemson graduate in the group got word to Ford's staff.
  • Ford after the game: "We knew they had a fake and we talked about it. We wanted to save our timeouts for our drive for a winning FG." You could hardly blame them. Who would think Bowden would be so crazy as to try it at that point in the game at that spot on the field?
  • Clemson S Gene Beasley said, "The man [Bowden] has no conscience. I couldn't have called that play." Tiger receiver Ricardo Hooper summed up the game. "Basically, we got out-tricked."

The opening loss proved to be FSU's only one of the season. A 13-7 victory over Auburn in the Sugar Bowl culminated the 11-1 season to earn the #3 ranking behind Notre Dame and Miami in the AP's final poll.

References: Heart Stoppers and Hail Marys: The Greatest College Football Finishes (Since 1970), Ted Mandell
Tales from the Seminoles Sideline, Bobby Bowden with Steve Ellis
Bowden, Mike Freeman
Top of Page
He Coulda Been a Star

After an 8-0 season in 1950, Head Coach Don Veller greeted his next Seminole team, which included a player who would come to be called the "best player never."

  • Roy Thompson hailed from Wrightsville, the small GA town that later produced Herschel Walker.
  • A 5-10 173lb RB of great potential, Thompson had transferred from Georgia Tech where Coach Bobby Dodd considered him "a problem."
  • Veller: "He would not practice, and he would not block. All he wanted to do was carry the football. Indeed, he could carry the ball. He was so fast on his start he made divots in the ground – honestly – the way he pushed."
  • As an example of his athletic ability, Roy regularly bet $1 that he could jump over the hood of a car. He always won the bet.
  • Unfortunately, Thompson ran to the beat of his own drummer. Veller: "Once, against Stetson, he had a TD going up the middle. Everybody had been knocked down. But he spun out, went wide – and lost 5y." When coaches asked Thompson why he hadn't gone up the middle, he replied, "Gosh, it was no fun doing that – nobody was there."
  • Still, in that same game, Thompson ran 76y to paydirt to spark a 13-10 victory. Against Wofford, Roy ran for 133y in 17 carries. FSU won 14-0.
  • To utilize Roy's ability, the coaches developed a special kickoff return. "We just threw the ball to him and let him run where he wanted to run."
  • When Thompson skipped spring practice, Veller asked him why. "I'm out for the circus. I catch girls. It's more fun than football."
  • Because he refused to practice, Roy sat on the bench most of the 1952 season when FSU went 1-8-1.
  • Despite his belief that Thompson "was probably the best I ever saw," Veller didn't think it was fair to play him ahead of players who practiced. For the season, Roy ran the ball 70 times for 227y and 1 TD. He also completed 13-of-33 passes for 236y, 1 TD, and 4 INT.
  • Roy disappeared after the '52 season. Veller later heard he had joined the Marines.
References: Seminoles!: The First Forty Years, Bill McGrotha
Top of Page
Roy Thompson
Roy Thompson

Coach Don Veller

When Johnny U. Came to Tallahassee

Johnny Unitas, Louisville
Johnny Unitas at Louisville




Lee Corso

Johnny Unitas, Colts
Unitas at Baltimore

The year was 1952. The Seminoles hosted Louisville on October 4 in the second game of the season.

  • The Cardinals were led by a skinny sophomore QB generously listed at 150 lb. His name was Johnny Unitas from Pittsburgh PA.
  • Louisville had beaten Wayne State 19-12 in their opener.
  • Coach John Camp had started practice that year with only 19 players because a new president had toughened the academic standards for athletes, causing 15 returning lettermen to flunk out.
  • Camp filled out the roster with walk-on freshmen. One was a 190 lb T named Larry "Bumpy" Simmons who made history when he entered the opener against Wayne State in Q4, thus breaking the color line at Louisville. Simmons had to be left home for the trip to Tallahassee because of a Florida law prohibiting mixed-race athletic contests.
  • Unitas had taken over the starting position behind C midway through the previous year. He led the Cardinals to four straight wins to end the year. The 5-4 record would be his only winning season at Louisville.

Don Veller had lost only four games in four years at the helm at FSU.

  • The military veterans who flocked to Florida State after the war were beginning to run out just as the school started giving scholarships and therefore left the Dixie Conference.
  • An opening loss at home to Louisiana Tech, 32-13, would prove to be an omen of the dismal season to come.

Despite a furious Seminole rush throughout the game, Unitas completed 22 passes for 198y and 3 TDs.

  • Right after the game, Veller said, prophetically, of the visiting QB: "He is out of this world." Don recalled the game years later. "Unitas had the greatest day of any passer I've ever seen. He was just phenomenal. No way he couldn't play for anybody anywhere anytime."
  • At one point, Johnny threw a left-handed pass between his legs for a 15y completion. "You should have seen him," said Lee Corso, who wasn't at FSU that year but played QB the next year and saw the films of the game. "Holy mackerel, was this guy good. A kind of rawboned-looking, bowlegged guy. Not fast but quick. Unbelievably quick release. Boom! Drop back in that pocket. Boom! The Seminoles didn't have a chance. He riddled them."
  • Veller further remembered that "Louisville also had an extraordinary FB who graduated that year." His name was Jim Williams, and he ran for 143y that day in the 41-14 rout.

The two teams between them would win only two more games the rest of the season.

  • FSU beat Wofford in the second-to-last contest to finish 1-8-1 in Veller's final season.
  • The Cardinals beat Eastern Kentucky to complete a 3-5 campaign.

Louisville returned to the Florida capital the following season, 1953.

  • With his team even more depleted, Unitas, nursing a bad ankle, endured a 59-0 shellacking by the Seminoles.
  • Cardinal T Bob Bender recalled, "It was so bad, the cannon they fired off after TDs ran out of shells."
  • Lee Corso, a 5-9 142 freshman whom new FSU coach Tom Nugent started at QB that night, said:

It wasn't fair. Louisville had almost no players except John. Overnight, it had turned into a high school team. We overran him, crushed him, killed him. But you still couldn't take your eyes off him. Studying the film from the year before, I couldn't get over how good he was. Now, I couldn't get over how tough he was.

Unitas would QB the Baltimore Colts to back-to-back NFL championships in 1958 and 1959. He earned election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1979.

References: Seminoles!: The First Forty Years, Bill McGrotha
Johnny U: The Life & Times of John Unitas, Tom Callahan
Top of Page
Bobby's First Gator Win

Bobby Bowden's first clash with Florida in 1976 as Florida State head coach ended in frustration.

  • In the last mid-season meeting between the archrivals to this day, the Gators prevailed 33-26 in Tallahassee. The Seminoles ended the game at the Gator 9.
  • Alvin Parrish batted down Jimmy Black's pass intended for freshman WR Kurt Unglaub in the end zone to preserve Florida's ninth straight victory in the series.
  • The Seminoles' last triumph was 21-16 in Gainesville in 1967 when Bill Peterson was head coach.
  • The defeat contributed to FSU's 5-6 record in what would turn out to be Bowden's only losing campaign in Tallahassee.

The 1977 Seminoles sported an 8-2 record heading into the December 3 visit to Gainesville.

  • Bowden had already accepted an invitation to play in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando.
  • Doug Dickey's Gators entered the fray at 6-3-1. He fielded a speedy corps of receivers but didn't have a QB who could consistently get the ball to them. QB Terry LeCount was a speedy runner who operated mostly out of the wishbone.
  • Dickey hoped to control the ball and get a lead on the Seminoles, who sported a balanced attack behind RB Larry Key and dual sophomore QBs Wally Woodham and Jimmy Jordan, both from Leon High School in Tallahassee. (Wally had redshirted a year.)
  • Unfortunately for the Gators, their all-SEC receiver, Wes Chandler, would not play because of pneumonia.
On a sunny 60° day, 63,563 and a regional television audience watched FSU take the opening kickoff and drive 72 yards to paydirt.
  • Bowden started Woodham behind C, and Wally responded by throwing a 35y TD pass to Unglaub, who returned to the lineup after missing several games due to injury.
  • Two series later, the 'Noles extended the lead when Dave Cappelen booted a 47y FG with 4:35 left in the opening period.

Florida fought back to get on the scoreboard.

  • On the first play of Q2, Berj Yepremian, younger brother of the Dolphins' Garo, kicked a 32y FG.
  • Jordan replaced Woodham and took FSU 82y in eight plays for their second TD. The 4y scoring pass to senior WR Roger Overby came with 6:12 left before intermission.
  • The rest of the half belonged to the home team. Yepremian added 50- and 41-yard 3-pointers to make the halftime score 17-9.

Jordan continued at QB for the second half, which FSU dominated.

  • Mixing a ground and aerial attack, Jordan opened Q3 by leading a 66y TD drive.
  • The score came on a 20y pass to Overby with 5:16 left in the period. The PAT made it 24-9.
  • Florida mounted its best drive of the day near the end of Q3 into the final period. However, all hope ended for the home team when the 'Nole D stopped LeCount on the one-foot line on fourth down.
  • The Seminoles then drove 99y to score on another Jordan 20y TD pass to Overby.
  • After a Gator muffed the ensuing kickoff, Jordan culminated the short drive with a 4y toss to Overby to make the final tally 37-9.
  • The Seminoles ended the game inside the Gator 10 as in the previous contest. However, this time they simply ran out of the clock.

The Seminoles celebrated the demise of the losing streak and the first time FSU had won nine games in a season.

  • "We ain't second rate no more," Bowden croaked afterwards. "We thought they were weak in the secondary."
  • That was an understatement as Jordan and Woodham completed 20 of 31 for 344. "I just go back, look, and the guys would be open," said Jordan.
  • Dickey said the outcome was a matter of Florida State's strength concentrated in the area where Florida was weakest — in its injury-plagued secondary.
  • The 'Noles gained 27 first downs to only 10 for UF. The 28-point margin was by far FSU's largest in the series to that point.
  • Key gained 143 to become the first player in school history to gain over 1,000y rushing in one season.
  • The victory began a four-year winning streak for the Seminoles in the rivalry.

Unglaub remembers the team's reception back in Tallahassee.

It was like winning the Super Bowl in the state of Florida. Being in that locker room, there was so much joy. We went home on the bus, and it pulled into Doak Campbell Stadium, and there were probably 20,000 people in there. It was just phenomenal. They closed the streets in Tallahassee, and it was like a midnight party.

The 40-17 triumph over Texas Tech in the Tangerine Bowl on December 23 would be the first of Bowden's 20 bowl victories at FSU.

1977 Florida-FSU Program

Coach Bobby Bowden
Bobby Bowden c.1977

RB Larry Key
QB Wally WoodhamQB Jimmy Jordan
WR Kurt Unglaub
Kurt Unglaub (19)

WR Roger Overby
Roger Overby exults after a TD
against Florida in 1977
"Most Memorable Florida State Football Month" - I

That's how Tallahassee Democrat sports editor Bill McGrotha described November 1976 in his book Seminoles! The First Forty Years. He was referring to the last three games of Bobby Bowden's first season at Florida State.

  • Bill also used the phrase "The Miracle of the 90-yard Plays" to describe what happened.
  • Florida State struck for not one, not two, not three, but FOUR 90+y TDs during the trio of games.
  • In their first 30 years of football, the Seminoles had produced NO 90y plays.
  • Jim Van Valkenberg, veteran NCAA statistician, opined: "Do you realize how rare the 90-yard scoring play from scrimmage is? Though we do not keep records on all scoring plays from scrimmage over 90 yards, I'd feel free to say that what Florida State did in those three games was something no one had done before."

The 2-6 Seminoles began the string hosting Southern Mississippi on November 6.

  • With 12 minutes to play, winless USM led 27-10.
  • Disappointed fans in the crowd of 29,173 began leaving, including Ann Bowden, the coach's wife. "Because she can't stand to watch, she'll go off somewhere," Bobby said later.

Those who stayed were rewarded with what McGrotha dubbed the "Rudy Thomas Miracle."

  • FSU scored the first time it had the ball that night on a 37y FG by 5'8" freshman Dave Cappelen (Vero Beach) with 9:21 left in Q1.
  • USM took the lead on a 3y pass from TB Chuck Clancy to TE John Pitts.
  • Seminole TE Ed Beckman (Miami) snared a 15y pass from senior QB Jimmy Black (Merritt Island) to regain the advantage after a 69y march.
  • Golden Eagle FB Curtis Dickey's 10y run recaptured the lead for the visitors 13-10 with 12:55 left in the half. Dickey totaled 163y for the game.
  • CB Don Law intercepted a pass from backup freshman QB Jimmy Jordan on the 39 to set up another USM score on Ben Garry's 7y scamper with a pitchout.
  • Garry scored again in Q3 from the 1 to extend the lead to 17.
Black and Thomas sparked the Seminole comeback.
  • Black, who finished 21 for 38 for 364y, began chunking the ball. He led a drive that culminated in a 10y scamper by Thomas with 11:28.
  • The 5'11" 190 senior RB from Quincy scored again from the 4 with 6:53 left. FSU trailed 27-23 after a two-point pass failed.
  • The D forced a three-and-out on Southern's next series and, following a clipping penalty on the punt return, the Seminoles started from their 8. Thomas was dropped for a 3y loss on the first play, and a pass on the second play fell incomplete. Hoping just to make the first down on third-and-13, Black tossed a screen pass to Thomas at the 10. He cut back over the middle, broke a tackle, and outran the last defender to complete the longest scoring pass play in FSU history, breaking the record of 88y set by Gary Huff and Berry Smith in 1971.
  • Capellen's PAT made the score 30-27. The Noles had tallied 20 points in 7:23.

Bowden's D held to complete the improbable victory. Years later, Bobby reflected, "That game was definitely the beginning of something big for us."

PK Dave Capellen

QB Jimmy Black
Jimmy Black

TE Ed Beckman
Ed Beckman

Rudy Thomas
Rudy Thomas

Most Memorable Florida State Football Month - II

North Texas State Program

Jimmy Black vs North Texas
QB Jimmy Black passes in the "Snow Game."


WR Kurt Unglaub
Kurt Unglaub




Larry Key
Larry Key

After coming from behind to beat USM on a 95y screen pass (afterwards Coach Bowden said, "I don't know how they won that dadgum game"), the 1976 Seminoles traveled to Denton TX for a most memorable game on November 13.
  • Arriving for the game with North Texas State on Friday, the Noles practiced in cold weather that afternoon, then awoke the next morning to discover a blanket of snow on the ground.
  • Most of the players had never seen snow "live." Some even thought that afternoon's game would be cancelled.

The game was indeed played despite snow coming down in sheets blown by a 15 mph wind and four inches covering the Fouts Field turf.

  • Equipment manager Frank DeBord bought every pair of gloves, hoods, and scarves he could find in Denton to help his Sunshine State boys cope.
  • The only thing Bowden could tell the players before the game was, "Go out there and have fun. And don't any of you freeze because I don't know how I'd explain it to your mommas and daddies."
  • The players had already had fun before the game throwing snowballs and making snow angels.
  • Sidelines markers and yard stripes were buried. Highway safety cones marked the corners of the end zones and every 10y line down the field.
  • Late in the game, the officials told Bowden they thought the Seminoles came up short for a first down. "What do you mean 'you think'?" Bobby asked. "We can't see the yard line," the official replied. "We'll have to dig to find it." "Then dig," the coach replied.
  • The Seminoles had six turnovers, including five fumbles, in the frigid conditions. Coach Hayden Fry's Eagles (as they were known before changing to the Mean Green) turned the ball over only once but lost.

The teams traded Q2 TDs.

  • After a scoreless opening period, NTSU took the lead on a 2y run by Opp with 9:54 left until halftime.
  • The Seminoles got on the board with only 0:25 remaining when QB Jimmy Black hit TE Ed Beckman from the 9. Dave Capellen's PAT tied the score.

The Seminoles took the lead on their second play of more than 90y in two games.

  • With the line of scrimmage at his own 9, Black threw to Kurt Unglaub. Kurt went out, stopped, and started again. The DB fell down, allowing the WR to be wide open.
  • "I bobbled the ball several times. It was hard to tell where you were out there, and I just told myself I was going to run further than the goalposts actually were."
  • The 91y play was only the second longest in school history, behind the 95y pass and run from Black to Thomas the week before.
  • Capellen missed the point to leave the tally 13-7 with 12:11 on the clock for Q3.

The Eagles scored two TDs to set the stage for another memorable finish.

  • Opp scored his second TD on 1y run with 4:05 left in Q3. The EP put the home team ahead 14-13.
  • Then it was TD #3 for Mr. Opp, this time a pass from the 12. The PAT failed with 0:21 left in the period.

Facing the elements as well as the Eagle D, the Seminoles managed to pull the game out of the ice (not the fire).

  • The Noles executed a 10-play march that culminated in Jeff Leggett's 1y run with 2:13 left to make the score 20-19.
  • Showing the Riverboat Gambler mentality he would become famous for, Bowden decided to go for two. O coordinator George Haffner pulled a special play out of his bag of tricks.
  • RB Larry Key took a handoff and surprised the D by tossing a pass to Unglaub for the go-ahead conversion.
  • Black explained: "We just turned it into something like a street game, really wild, laughing, sliding around, having fun."

Kurt recalls the unique way the Noles celebrated afterwards..

There was this big hill we had to go up to get to the dressing room. On that hill, we were tackling each other, rubbing each other's face in the snow, having a good time out there. Probably 70 per cent of us had never seen snow.

On the bus ride to the Dallas airport, the sight of all the snow inspired the players and coaches to sing Christmas carols over a month early. Bowden said years later, "I believe the most fun game I've been associated with was that one."

To be continued ...

References: Seminoles!: The First Forty Years, Bill McGrotha
Top of Page
Most Memorable Florida State Football Month - III

After two straight exciting contests, each with a 90+y scoring play for the Seminoles, Bobby Bowden's first FSU team entered its 1976 finale with a 4-6 record.

  • What were the odds that the game would produce not one, but two more 90+ plays? And a 75-yarder to boot!
  • And what are the chances that a team will set a school record for longest run from scrimmage and longest pass from scrimmage on the same night?

The opponent was Virginia Tech (still called VPI at the time) which, like FSU, was independent in football.

  • Jimmy Sharpe's Hokies had the reverse record from the Seminoles, 6-4. However, two straight losses had ended the Hokies' bowl hopes in that era with a limited number of bowl games.
  • An all-day rain produced a wet field and reduced attendance to 16,148.

The visitors got on the board first.

  • Gobbler FB Paul Adams darted 12y over C with 9:36 remaining in Q1. The kick missed.
  • FSU soon found itself backed up to its 3 following a mishandled punt. No problem for senior TB Larry Key.
  • Using strength built up by weightlifting, he plunged into the left side where he seemed to be stopped cold before breaking away for 97y, escaping more tackles along the way. His dash put him in the school record book for longest run from scrimmage. Dave Capellen booted the Noles into a 7-6 lead.
  • The lead extended to 14-6 in Q2 when QB Jimmy Black hit WR Mike Barnes on a 75y TD.

The Hokies pulled ahead in the second half.

  • Adams scored his second TD, this one from the 1, in Q3. A run for 2 tied the score at 14.
  • Tech continued to pound the ball on the ground (354y rushing on the evening vs only 37 through the air) until Roscoe Coles plunged over from the 1 to give VPI a 21-14 advantage with 13:58 remaining.

With the O bogged down, Bowden substituted freshman Jimmy Jordan at QB.

  • Jordan marched the Noles 68y in six plays. He connected with WR Jackie Flowers for a 33y TD. However, the 2-point try for the lead failed.
  • Tech responded with another relentless ground march that ended when Scott Warren forced a fumble that DT Walter Carter recovered at the 4 with 6:02 left.

That's when Jordan struck again.

  • On the first play, Jimmy faded into the EZ and spotted fellow freshman, WR Kurt Unglaub, his teammate at Leon High School in Tallahassee. Jordan heaved the ball to midfield where Kurt grabbed it and outran a defender for the go-ahead score.
  • The pass play broke the two-week-old record of 95y accomplished by Black and Rudy Thomas against USM.
  • Years later, Unglaub recalled the play.

    This was basically the same kind of pass I had caught at North Texas State in the snow. I just kind of jumped between two defenders, and when I came down with the ball both were on the ground. Funny thing, a CB came from the other side of the field and had run me down about the 12, but instead of just tackling me, he dived and missed.

  • Black returned to throw a 2-point conversion pass to TE Ed Beckman to make it 28-21 with 5:45 remaining.

The Tribe had to dodge another bullet to hang onto the lead.

  • VPI blocked a punt at the 26 with 2:10 left. However, an offsides penalty nullified the play.
  • FSU then kicked out of danger and repelled Tech's last try.
  • Key ended the evening with 153y and a school career rushing mark of 1,849.

Bowden remarked after the game: "I think the excitement is back in Florida State football." The 5-6 final record was FSU's last losing record to the present time.

It's a safe bet that we won't see any team with four 91y+ plays in a span of three games for a long time, if ever.

References: Seminoles!: The First Forty Years, Bill McGrotha
Top of Page
1976 Virginia Tech Program
RB Larry Key
QB Jimmy Black
Jimmy Black
WR Jackie Flowers
Jackie Flowers
QB Jimmy Jordan
Jimmy Jordan
Walter Carter
Walter Carter
Reference: Pure Gold: Bobby Bowden, an Inside Look as told to Steve Ellis and Bill Vilona

FSU-Kansas Program Cover

Coach Mickey Andrews
Coach Mickey Andrews

LB Ken Alexander with Chief Osceola
Ken Alexander with Chief Osceola

Derrick Brooks
Derrick Brooks

A Stand for the Ages

Preseason #1 Florida State began the 1993 season on August 28 against Kansas in the Kickoff Classic at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands NJ. The 42-0 romp is memorable because of an incredible goal line stand by the Seminoles.

  • The official temperature at kickoff was 91 but rose to 118 on the arti­ficial turf in bright sunshine.
  • The Jayhawks took the opening kickoff and drove into FSU territory. On fourth down, Dan Eichloff kicked a 36y FG. However, when the D was flagged for too many men on the field, Coach Glen Mason elected to take the first down and remove the 3 points from the scoreboard.
  • KU drove to the 6 before bogging down. Eichloff missed a 23y chip shot.

After the Seminoles' "Fast Break Offense" pushed across two TDs to lead 14-0 in Q2, the Jayhawks drove to the 9, forcing a timeout.

  • D coordinator Mickey Andrews told his unit, which lost six starters from the 11-1 '92 team, to stop feeling sorry for themselves. As LB Ken Alexander related afterwards, "He said, 'Remember, stand up for your manhood.' That pumped us up."
  • When play resumed, Ken remembered, "I could hear Derrick [Brooks] behind me yelling. 'One more down, one more.' The only problem was, it kept being one more down."

Here are the plays that transpired on the boiling turf starting with the 2nd- and-1 on the 9.

  • White runs for 2y before being tackled by Alexander. 1st-and-goal from the 7.
  • L. T. Levine gains 4. Alexander makes the tackle again. 2nd-and-goal from the 3.
  • Illegal procedure penalty against Kansas before the next snap moves the ball back to the 8.
  • TB June Henley gains 6. ILB Alonzo Horner makes the tackle. 3rd- and-goal from the 2.
  • Incomplete pass but interference called against FSU in the EZ. So 1st-and-goal from the 1.
  • Brooks tackles White for a 1y loss. 2nd-and-goal from the 2.
  • Offside FSU. 2nd-and-goal from the 1.
  • Offside FSU again. 2nd-and-goal from the 1/2.
  • Henley stopped for no gain. 3rd-and-goal from inside the 1.
  • Offside FSU. The ball is moved slightly closer to the goal.
  • Good is stopped by Horner and Brooks for no gain. 4th-and-goal.
  • Henley tries to shoot through a hole on a sweep to the right side. Brooks grabs his foot, tripping him. Alexander and CB Corey Sawyer finish off the stop. Henley's helmet broke the plane of the EZ but not the ball.

When Charlie Ward led the Noles on an 8-play, 99y drive capped by Wil­liam Floyd's 2y burst for a 21-0 halftime lead, everyone knew the Jayhawk­ers were done.

  • Afterwards, Mason pronounced the goal-line stand "embarrassing." "You get 11 snaps (12 actually) to get into the EZ. We'll straighten that out tonight."
  • Asked when FSU last pulled off such a stand, Brooks didn't hesitate. "Practice. That's some of the best games people never see, our games in practice."
  • The coaching staff put the D through as many as 10 straight goal-line repetitions against the first-unit O in practice.
Reference: No. 1 Noles! FSU's Championship Season, by The Tallahassee Democrat
Top of Page
FSU Blocks Punt vs Kansas
Seminoles block a punt and recover in the EZ in second half against Kansas.

The "Dirty Jerseys Game"
Bill Peterson's Seminoles faced a formidable foe to end the 1968 regular season.
  • Bill Yeoman's 6-1-2 Houston Cougars had just beaten Tulsa 100-6, accumulating 762y with their veer O.
  • Earlier in the season, the Cougars had recorded other blowout victories: Tulane 54-7, Cincinnati 71-33, and Idaho 77-3.
  • To top matters off, FSU had never beaten Houston.

The Noles were 7-2 heading into the game in Jacksonville on Friday night, November 29. Peterson decided to turn the Houston game into what became known as the "Dirty Jerseys Game."

  • Bill: In the game before, we had been behind Wake Forest 24-14 in the last half. Then we cut loose in that last half - maybe the best last half we ever played - with 28 points and won 42-24.
  • Somebody said to me we ought to hang on to those old dirty jerseys and wear 'em against Houston. Not knowing for sure what I would do, I just told Tillman Dixon [equipment manager] not to wash them - just hang 'em up somewhere.
  • Well, we took those dirty jerseys - filthy, stinking, I mean - over there to Jacksonville. And I told the squad we were going to pick up where we left off with Wake Forest - wearing those dirty jerseys. Boy, those players were mad. Literally steaming.
  • During pregame warmups, Peterson had Dixon place clean jerseys in the lockers. When the team returned before the kickoff, Bill gave them the option to change into clean ones. But, at the same time, I discouraged them from changing, he recalled. Almost all chose to stay with the dirty jerseys.

Maybe it was the jerseys, maybe it wasn't. But the Noles put forth what some have called their best effort of all time. The Associated Press report on the game started this way.

The scoreboard tally read 25-0 at halftime and the crowd began chanting: "We want 100!"
Houston's high-scoring Cougars had answered the same call less than a week earlier, but this time they hardly took notice. They couldn't afford to ... not when the next point they scored would be their first.

  • Yes, the Seminoles had held Houston's vaunted attack scoreless for 30 minutes while putting up 25 themselves.
  • FSU had a pretty fair O too, led by the pitch-catch combination of QB Bill Cappleman and WR Ron Sellers.
  • Cappleman ended the evening 25-for-34 for 353y and 4 TDs while Sellers caught 14 for 214y. That brought his all-time pass reception yardage record to 3,598.
  • Bill began the scoring by throwing a 21y pass to Phil Abraira in Q1. Then Bill Gunter scored on a 1y run in Q2 before Cappleman tossed a 6y TD to Chip Glass, and Dailey ran a yard into the EZ to amaze the crowd of 39,400 in the Gator Bowl.
  • The Seminoles shut down Houston in the first half by keying on FB Paul Gipson. Only when Rusty Clark replaced Ken Bailey at QB and began to open up FSU's D with a passing attack did the Cougars come to life. That allowed Gipson to break loose for two TD runs.
  • After Houston scored its first TD in Q3, Cappleman hit Sellers on a 62y scoring bomb. Gipson sprinted 55y to paydirt, but Cappleman connected with Bill Cox from 46. Finally, Ted Heiskell plunged over from the 1 to make the final score a bit more respectable, 42-24.
FSU ended the season by losing to LSU 31-28 in the first-ever Peach Bowl in Atlanta.
Reference: Pure Gold: Bobby Bowden, an Inside Look as told to Steve Ellis and Bill Vilona
FSU-Houston Program

FSU QB Bill Cappelman
Bill Cappleman

FSU WR Ron Sellers
Ron Sellers

Paul Gibson, Houston
Paul Gipson
27 Fumbles in One Game


1969 Florida State - Wichita State Program

QB Bill Cappleman
QB Bill Cappleman

Top of Page

Bill Peterson's Seminoles opened the 1969 season against Wichita State in Tallahassee. The game was played in a driving rain on Saturday night, September 20 before a "startling turnout" of 31,821.
  • The game set three NCAA records.
    • Fumbles lost by one team - 10 by Wichita State
    • Fumbles lost by both teams - 17
    • Total fumbles - 27
  • The Shockers lost 10 of their 17 fumbles, while FSU lost "only" 7 of 10.
  • Bill McGrotha started his story on the game in the Tallahassee Democrat like this: If the playing conditions had been as they were here last night as Princeton and Rutgers played the first collegiate football game 100 years ago, there just wouldn't have been any centennial to crow about in 1969.

Noles QB Bill Cappleman (Dunedin sr) managed to toss two TD passes to spark the victory.

  • In the opening period, John Pell (Pahokee sr) returned a WSU punt to the Shocker 46. Two plays later, with defenders crowding the line and daring him to pass, Cappleman lobbed a 53y bomb to RB Tom Bailey (Coral Gables jr) who gathered it in at the 10 and sloshed along the sidelines to the EZ.
  • QB Butch Dusharm fumbled the first snap on the next series, and E Ron Wallace (Macon GA jr) recovered for the Seminoles at the 28. However, two plays later FSU's FB Brent Gilman (Long Beach CA sr) returned the favor.
  • The comedy of errors continued three snaps later when LB Barry Rice (Fernandina Beach jr) recovered Kenny Lee's fumble. The Tribe marched to the 23 where Grant Guthrie (Claymont DE sr) booted a 40y FG - not an easy feat on a night like that - to make it 10-0 at the end of the opening stanza.
  • RB Arthur Munroe (Quincy so) splashed 18y to move the count to 17-0 at the half.
  • After a scoreless Q3, FSU scored its last TD. It was set up by - what else? - a fumble recovered in midair by LB Steve Gildea (Daytona Beach jr) who rumbled to the 9. Cappleman hit flanker Don Pederson (Groveland jr) in the EZ. Guthrie converted his third PAT to make the final tally 24-0.
  • Wichita recovered fumbles on the FSU 11 and 5 but couldn't capitalize.

The statistics reflected the score.

  • The Seminoles made 12 first downs to 8 for the opposition. The total yardage tilted 163-101 in the home team's favor.
  • Cappleman had a surprisingly good night under the conditions: 12-for-17 for 180y and one INT.
  • Bailey led all ground gainers with 93y on 20 carries.

FSU won five of its first six games before finishing 6-3-1 and not making a bowl game.

References: Seminoles!: The First Forty Years, Bill McGrotha