|Georgia Tech’s Daryl Smith (51) and Greg Gathers (55) sack Florida State quarterback Chris Weinke in the fourth quarter in Atlanta, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2000. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)|
ATLANTA (AP) – Florida State almost saw its hopes of winning another national title fall apart in the second week of the season. But the Seminoles narrowly escaped defeat at the hands of the Yellow Jackets.
Georgia Tech (1-1, 0-1), a 22-point underdog, received a rousing cheer from the home fans after its final drive ended in Florida State territory.
“Tech just would not quit,” FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. “What were our problems? Georgia Tech, they were our problems.”
Chris Weinke became Florida State’s career-leading passer with 6,433 yards. He was 25-of-38 against Tech, including a 30-yard touchdown pass to Robert Morgan with 12:58 remaining that put the Seminoles ahead.
Weinke, who hooked up with Javon Walker on a 68-yard TD in the first quarter, drove the Seminoles to another score on William McCray’s 1-yard run with 7:45 to go.
George Godsey, who shared the quarterback duties with Jermaine Crenshaw, capitalized on a roughing the passer penalty to thrown a 27-yard TD to Jon Muyres with 4:50 left. Tech stopped the Seminoles and faced fourth-and-3 at the FSU 40.
Godsey attempted a pass across the middle to Kerry Watkins, who appeared to be hit early by Stanford Samuels. But the officials didn’t throw a flag and Florida State ran out the clock.
Georgia Tech, which lost to Florida State 41-35 last year with Heisman Trophy runner-up Joe Hamilton at quarterback, used both Godsey and Crenshaw to keep things close once again.
Crenshaw, a third-year sophomore playing his first game at that position, was rotating with Godsey on just about every play in the third quarter, a system that confused the Seminoles and led to a 13-play, 63-yard scoring drive. Joe Burns went over on an 8-yard run and Tech led 15-12 after a 2-point conversion with 3:17 remaining in the third.
“We had them on their toes and should have thrown the knockout punch,” Tech defensive end Greg Gathers said. “But I give Florida State credit. They came back when they had to.”
Godsey ran the team through most of the fourth quarter, completing 13 straight passes and finishing 18-of-32 for 189 yards. Crenshaw was 4-of-5 for 30 yards and led the team in rushing with 36 yards on nine carries.
Florida State dominated statistically in a penalty filled game, outgaining the Yellow Jackets 536-298. Yellow was the predominate color of the night, as Tech was penalized 19 times for a school-record 140 yards and Florida State 15 times for 114 yards.
The game started with all the makings of a Florida State rout.
The Seminoles drove 73 yards on their first possession before stalling at the Georgia Tech 4, settling for Chance Gwaltney’s 21-yard field goal. Florida State went all the way to the end zone the next time it got the ball, as Weinke hooked up with Walker on the 63-yarder.
Walker got behind safety Jeremy Muyres, who would have been called for interference except that the receiver still managed to catch the ball and hobble across the goal line after spraining his right ankle on the play.
At that point, the Seminoles defense got in on the scoring. Godsey was sacked in the end zone by Jamal Reynolds to push Florida State to a 12-0 lead with 3:03 still remaining in the first quarter.
The Yellow Jackets had been outgained 200-0 when Crenshaw, listed as the third-team quarterback, went in late in the first quarter. He ran for 15 yards on his first play and gave his team a spark of life.
But Tech’s biggest play was provided by the defense, which took advantage of Florida State’s decision to give Weinke a breather. Backup quarterback Marcus Outzen tried a pass along the left sideline and Marvious Hester stepped in for the interception, returning it 50 yards for a touchdown with 9:04 left in the second quarter.
Amazingly, the Yellow Jackets went to locker room trailing only 12-7 even though they been outgained 318-104 in total yardage.