Dwyer, Ga. Tech run over No. 16 FSU, 31-28
ATLANTA (AP)—The play designed to give Florida State a last-minute comeback win worked just as coach Bobby Bowden expected—until Marcus Sims lost the ball.
Sims fumbled into the end zone to finish No. 16 Florida State’s comeback hopes in the final minute, and Georgia Tech beat the Seminoles 31-28 on Saturday.
“It could have been one of the greatest comebacks, but we fumbled it,” Bowden said.
Florida State trailed 24-10 in the first half and 31-20 before scoring with 6:04 left.
Georgia Tech safety Cooper Taylor’s helmet-to-football hit popped the ball loose on Sims’ second-down run from the 3. Rashaad Reid recovered it with 45 seconds left, beating Florida State quarterback Christian Ponder and others in the fight for the ball.
Taylor, a freshman making his first start, also set up a touchdown with a second-quarter interception and led Georgia Tech with 10 tackles. But his final play was the one to remember.
“It was the last play of the game, we either had to stop them right there (or lose),” Taylor said. “I’m in shock right now.”
The Seminoles were shocked they lost after coming so close to a win.
“We were definitely excited,” Ponder said. “We were pretty confident we would go in and score.”
Sims was not available for postgame interviews.
“I told him it could happen to any of us, to keep his head up,” Ponder said. “He was pretty upset.”
Florida State backup D’Vontrey Richardson threw a 39-yard touchdown pass to Preston Parker with 6:04 left, and Ponder’s pass to Greg Carr for the 2-point conversion cut Georgia Tech’s lead to 31-28.
Florida State’s final drive was set up by Patrick Robinson’s interception of Jaybo Shaw’s pass with 5:49 left.
Jermaine Thomas, who rushed for 130 yards to set a career high, helped move Florida State into scoring position before Sims’ fumble.
After it was over, Georgia Tech fans poured onto the field from each end zone after the game to celebrate the Yellow Jackets first victory over Florida State since 1975. The fans stood about 30 yards deep in front of their band to celebrate breaking a 12-game losing streak to the Seminoles, which revived ACC title game hopes for the Yellow Jackets (7-2 overall, 4-2 ACC).
Jonathan Dwyer rushed for 145 yards and scored on runs of 36 and 66 yards for Georgia Tech.
“Take those two plays back and we probably would have won the ballgame,” Bowden said.
Before Saturday, Florida State had not given up a run longer than 25 yards this season. Georgia Tech ran for three touchdowns in the first half, the first time that’s happened to the Seminoles since Nov. 19, 1993 against Notre Dame.
“We simply couldn’t stop them,” said Bowden of the Georgia Tech spread option offense he called a wishbone attack.
“We haven’t played against it since Pat Dye ran it at Auburn in the middle or late ’80s. Not many people run it anymore. It’s not considered stylish.”
Georgia Tech rushed for 288 yards and four touchdowns.
Georgia Tech moved back into first place in the Coastal Division, thanks to Virginia’s loss to Miami. Georgia Tech is one-half game ahead of Miami and Virginia in the division.
Florida State (6-2 overall, 3-2 ACC) had its four-game winning streak snapped.
The Yellow Jackets’ offense stalled after losing quarterback Josh Nesbitt to an ankle injury in the third quarter. Shaw lost a fumble and threw an interception.
Lucas Cox scored on a 1-yard early in the second quarter for Georgia Tech to tie the game at 10.
Dwyer found a big lane between left tackle Andrew Gardner and left guard Joseph Gilbert for his first long touchdown run, and only 30 seconds later Taylor intercepted a deflected pass and returned the ball 28 yards to the Florida State 4.
Greg Smith scored on a pitch two plays later from the 4 for a 24-10 lead.
Florida State recovered to score the final 10 points of the half. A 62-yard run by Thomas set up Ponder’s 4-yard touchdown pass to Seddrick Holloway, and Graham Gano added a 45-yard field goal late in the half.