7:00 PM ET, October 9, 2004
Carrier Dome, SYRACUSE, NY
SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Bobby Bowden probably has seen more than enough of dome football for his liking.
Leon Washington rushed for a career-high 164 yards and scored twice in the second half, and No. 8 Florida State survived a major scare, rallying past Syracuse 17-13 on Saturday night.
It was the 346th victory in Bowden's storied career, and he knew the Seminoles (4-1) were lucky to walk out of the Carrier Dome with a victory.
"They should have won the ballgame," Bowden said after his first game on artificial turf in a domed stadium since losing to Georgia in the 2002 Sugar Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome. "They outfought us. They outhustled us. They out-executed us. I don't know how we won. If it were Virginia out there tonight, we would have lost by four touchdowns."
It was the third game against a ranked team for Syracuse (3-3), and unlike the previous two -- a 51-0 loss at No. 9 Purdue and a 31-10 loss at No. 10 Virginia -- the Orange made it difficult for the Seminoles and quarterback Wyatt Sexton, who was making his first road start.
Syracuse wasted two brilliant plays by safety Diamond Ferri. He put the Orange in terrific scoring position twice -- with a fumble return and an interception -- and they failed to score both times.
Against Florida State, that is a recipe for disaster, and the tide began to turn late in the third quarter with Syracuse clinging to a 10-3 lead.
"We left some points out on the field," said Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni, whose job may be on the line after two lackluster seasons. "In a game like this against an opponent like this, you like to capitalize."
Instead, it was Washington who took advantage of some great blocks. He scored on a 21-yard run late in the third to tie it at 10-all and capped the victory with a 45-yard dash down the left side early in the fourth.
"The main thing was just picking my feet up," said Washington, who also caught four passes for 24 yards. "We had to be patient with our runs. The second half we just came out in the kicking frame of mind and decided to run the ball."
And stop the Syracuse running attack. A week after rushing for 360 yards against Rutgers, the Orange were held to 58 yards on 31 carries. In the second half, the Seminoles held Syracuse to minus-2 yards rushing on 15 attempts and just 60 yards of total offense.
"We thrive on shutting down the run game," defensive tackle Travis Johnson said.
With Chris Rix on the sideline nursing an ankle sprain, Sexton started his second straight game, and this one was not like the first. Sexton was 20-for-31 for 193 yards and three TDs in a win over North Carolina last week. Against the Orange, he was 15-for-26 for 169 yards but maintained his poise in the face of a raucous Carrier Dome crowd of just over 40,000.
Sexton kept his passes short for most of the game. And when he opened up with time winding down in the third, he put Syracuse on its heels with a 24-yard completion to Craphonso Thorpe and a 12-yarder to Chauncey Stovall to set up Washington's first score.
Syracuse closed to 17-13 on a 39-yard field goal by Collin Barber with 10 minutes left and drove to the Florida State 30 in the final minute. But linebacker Sam McGrew intercepted Perry Patterson's pass in the end zone with 5 seconds left.
"It was more of a corner route, and the last thing we thought would happen was an interception," Pasqualoni said. "I think when the ball is released, you always have hope."
Patterson, who was brilliant in the first half, completing 10 of 12 for 145 yards and a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jared Jones, sputtered in the second. He finished 19-for-28 for a career-high 207 yards, but with his passes not connecting, the Orange couldn't come back against the Seminoles defense.
Syracuse led 10-3 at halftime, and the advantage could have been larger. Ferri ripped the ball out of Lorenzo Booker's hands at the Syracuse 25 and returned it 30 yards, but Barber missed wide right on a 42-yard field goal try with 4:53 left in the second.
After Florida State went three and out, Patterson hit Andre Fontenette for 33 yards and Reyes gained another 24 on a screen pass. But three plays later Reyes fumbled on a first-and-goal play from the 5 and Bryant McFadden recovered for Florida State.
Syracuse missed another great opportunity at the start of the second half. The Seminoles drove to midfield, but Ferri intercepted a pass over the middle and returned it 45 yards to the Florida State 23. When the Orange offense faltered, Barber missed wide left on a 37-yard field goal.
"I'm thinking of scoring every time I get my hands on the ball," said Ferri, who began his Syracuse career as a tailback. "I had the opportunity, I just didn't cash in on it. It's a sore loss, but it's kind of a boot for us."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||1-10||2-13|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||0-0|
|FG||10:26||COLLIN BARBER 44 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 52 yards.
|FG||1:04||XAVIER BEITIA 28 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 40 yards.
|TD||0:00||JARED JONES 44 YD PASS FROM PERRY PATTERSON (COLLIN BARBER KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 65 yards.
|TD||2:41||LEON WASHINGTON 21 YD RUN (XAVIER BEITIA KICK)|
Drive info: 6 plays, 62 yards.
|TD||13:29||LEON WASHINGTON 45 YD RUN (XAVIER BEITIA KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 60 yards.
|FG||10:00||COLLIN BARBER 39 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, -4 yards.