Fla. State fights to end, and then some

52-yard TD with :55 to go beats No. 11 Florida in cantankerous affair, 38-34

College Football

November 30, 2003|By NEW YORK TIMES NEWS SERVICE

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - As a clear but bitingly windy day turned into frigid night, the No. 9 Florida State Seminoles overcame three second-half deficits yesterday for one of their sweetest victories over Florida.

Quarterback Chris Rix threw a 52-yard touchdown pass to flanker Dominic Robinson with 55 seconds left to give the Seminoles a 38-34 victory over a stadium-record crowd of 90,407 at Florida Field - their fifth victory over No. 11 Florida in the past six meetings.

"It came down to the wire and they made some plays and we didn't," said Gators second-year coach Ron Zook. "I think maybe defensively we were on the field a little too long."

The game ended with hard feelings. Florida State players went to midfield to celebrate, where they were greeted by Florida players who didn't want the Seminoles jumping on their midfield logo "F" . Some punches were thrown, and several helmets were sent flying.

Gators athletic director Jeremy Foley and FSU sports information director Rob Wilson jumped in the middle to separate the 100 or so players, and police used pepper spray to disperse them.

"I have no idea what happened," Zook said. "But I promise you, if our guys were involved, we'll get it straightened out."

Rix's heroics, which included a 1-yard touchdown run earlier in a frantic fourth quarter that had four lead changes, overshadowed those of Florida freshman quarterback Chris Leak, whose 25-yard touchdown pass to tight end Ben Troupe with 2:50 left appeared to win the game for the Gators (8-4).

Florida's Matt Leach kicked his third field goal of the game, from 42 yards, to tie the score at 17-17 with 7:44 left in the third quarter, and then the Gators took their first lead since early in the game. Cornerback Keiwan Ratliff scooped up Rix's fumble at the Florida 23 and raced 77 yards for a touchdown.

Florida State (10-2) tied the score several minutes later in similar fashion. Safety Pat Watkins picked up Florida tailback Ran Carthon's fumble and ran 22 yards, making it 24-24 entering the fourth quarter.

The fight, meanwhile, was unfortunate, but not unprecedented. The biggest difference is that this one came after the game instead of before, as happened a few times in the late 1990s between these rivals.

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