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Defense secures Wolfpacks' first-ever 10-win season

11/23/2002

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Chuck Amato will celebrate his second
straight win over his former boss in style.

''I'm going to go out and drink some grape juice,'' Amato said
Saturday after a 17-7 victory over No. 14 Florida State and coach
Bobby Bowden.

Despite the loss, Florida State (8-4, 7-1) won the ACC title
outright after Virginia beat Maryland 48-13, sending the Seminoles
to a major bowl for the 11th time in the last 12 years.

''I ain't too thrilled,'' Bowden said of his team's BCS spot.
''I don't know whether to jump up-and-down, cry, or what.''

''I know this -- I didn't want to back into an ACC
championship,'' added FSU defensive end Alonzo Jackson.

T.A. McLendon rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown and North
Carolina State's defense held the Seminoles to 177 total yards in a
win that could send the Wolfpack to the Gator or Peach Bowl.

The Wolfpack (10-3, 5-3 ACC) became the first team in the ACC to
beat the Seminoles two years in a row after winning 34-28 last
season in Tallahassee, Fla.

N.C. State also snapped its three-game losing streak with a
stunning defensive performance to win 10 games for the first time
in 111 years of Wolfpack football.

''We finally got a win in the month of November,'' said Amato,
who was an assistant at Florida State for 18 years before returning
to his alma mater in 2000. ''This is a great tribute to a senior
class that we're going to miss. What leadership.''

Several Wolfpack players helped fans take down both goal posts
at Carter-Finley Stadium as the Wolfpack beat its first ranked team
this season.

Senior tight end Sean Berton had tears in his eyes after a
postgame speech from Amato.

''He tries to act like this is just another team, but we know
it's not and we feel that it's not and we played like it wasn't,''
Berton said of Amato. ''He was happy -- times a million.''

Florida State's offensive output was the second-lowest in Bobby
Bowden's 325 games with the Seminoles. The worst was 173 yards at
Nebraska in 1986.

It was also just the second time since 1988 that the Seminoles
didn't come up with an offensive TD. The other was in a 13-2 loss
to Oklahoma in the 2001 Orange Bowl.

Florida State came into the game averaging an ACC-best 428.6
yards a game, but could do little as Adrian McPherson fell to 3-1
since replacing Chris Rix at quarterback.

Rix didn't get into the game until there was 2:29 left.

''What we've got to do is get the quarterback situation
straightened out,'' Bowden said. ''I just don't know if we're
playing the right guy.''

''This wasn't on our quarterback,'' wide receiver Anquan Boldin
said. ''This is on everybody.''

The Wolfpack led 10-7 and drove to the Florida State 2 before
Philip Rivers failed to connect with Berton in the end zone.

Florida State was called for a holding penalty on the next play
to give N.C. State a safety and the ball.

Jerricho Cotchery's 49-yard return of the free kick helped set
up Adam Kiker's career-best 44-yard field goal that would have
forced the Seminoles to score a TD and a 2-point conversion just to
tie.

That was before Manny Lawson blocked a punt out of the end zone
for another safety with 5:43 left to seal it.

''I told the guys many times if we don't dominate the kicking
game we don't win Amato said. ''We blocked two punts. That was
big.''

The Seminoles fell to 16-8 the past two seasons since going
99-11 the previous nine seasons in the ACC.

The Florida State offense was limited when running back Nick
Maddox re-injured his right ankle on the first play of the game.
Maddox, averaging an ACC-best 6.2 yards a carry, returned later in
the first quarter but was ineffective with the sore ankle.

N.C. State stated the scoring when Kiker kicked a 21-yard field
goal after Chance Gwaltney had his punt blocked at midfield when he
dropped the snap.

Kiker was set to try a 37-yarder but Amato called for a fake.
The trick play backfired when holder Chris Young was stripped by
Alonzo Jackson and Michael Boulware returned it 84 yards to give
Florida State a 7-3 lead.

Late in the quarter, Rivers threw a key block as Josh Brown took
a direct snap and raced 60 yards to the Florida State 1. After a
5-yard penalty, McLendon burst up the middle from 6 yards out to
give the Wolfpack the lead at the break.

Rivers threw for 95 yards in the first half to become the third
ACC quarterback to throw for at least 3,000 in two seasons. And
McLendon's 16th rushing TD tied the league mark set in 1993 by
North Carolina's Leon Johnson.