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Jones-led ground attack sustains Seminoles until fourth

By Times staff

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 13, 2002


MIAMI -- Florida State's plan was to run the ball behind bruising tailback Greg Jones, eat up yardage and the clock, keep the ball from Miami. It worked perfectly. It didn't work long enough.

MIAMI -- Florida State's plan was to run the ball behind bruising tailback Greg Jones, eat up yardage and the clock, keep the ball from Miami. It worked perfectly. It didn't work long enough.

The Seminoles got a career effort out of Jones on Saturday at the Orange Bowl, where FSU suffered a wrenching 28-27 defeat to Miami, missing a field goal on the last play of the game.

Jones rushed for 189 yards on 31 carries and scored on an 11-yard run with 11:44 left, giving FSU a 27-14 lead.

But he rushed four times the rest of the game for 4 yards and went for no gain before Xavier Bietia's missed attempt from 43 yards.

"We got exactly what we wanted out of him today," coach Bobby Bowden said. "At the end, we tried to run some clock, but they started getting in on us. Whatever we did we did right because we had a chance to win at the end."

The Seminoles got 74 yards on 12 carries from Nick Maddox and finished with 296 yards rushing.

"That's the strength of our team, the offensive line and our running backs," Bowden said. "Any time you do something else, you're not playing to your strengths. We were successful today, but not successful enough."

GOING FOR TWO?: When Jones scored early in the fourth, the extra point put the Seminoles up 13. Why not try a two-point conversion for a 14-point advantage? The Seminoles lost by that single point.

"I don't go for two (that early)," Bowden said. "They needed a touchdown and two field goals to tie (by kicking the extra point). It has to be down to the last part before I go for two, which can be right or wrong."

No doubt Bowden will be second guessed. Had the Seminoles gone for two and missed, their 12-point advantage would not have mattered much. It was still two touchdowns or a touchdown and two field goals, which would have meant three possessions for the Hurricanes.

FINDING HOLES: Two years ago, it was UM tight end Jeremy Shockey who burned the Seminoles, catching a 13-yard winning touchdown. This time, it was Shockey's replacement, Kellen Winslow Jr., who had a big game.

Winslow, the son of NFL Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, caught a team-leading six passes for 84 yards, including a 27-yard pass and a 5-yard TD late in the first half.

"I just got open," Winslow said. "It knew it would be me vs. (FSU linebacker Michael) Boulware. I wrote that down in my notebook and I meditated about it. And I just got open."

BOUNCING BACK: A year ago, FSU quarterback Chris Rix had six turnovers against Miami that led to 28 points. Saturday, he had none. Though he completed 8-of-19 for 83 yards, he did what was asked and completed two crucial passes on the final drive.

"Offensively, we managed the game well, no offensive turnovers and our coaches had a great game plan," Rix said. "We operated well against the No. 1 team in the country. One inch away."

AILING: FSU's Eric Moore had an appendectomy Saturday at Doctor's Memorial Hospital. Moore, a backup defensive end, figured to get a lot of playing time against the Hurricanes. He made the trip to Miami on Friday and had symptoms after a team meal. He was taken to the hospital Saturday morning. Barring complications, he is expected to return to Tallahassee today.

PENALTY PROBLEM: One problem that has plagued UM this season was again evident against FSU. Miami was flagged 14 times for 109 yards, and FSU was called for four infractions for 35 yards.

"Penalties could have, maybe should have, cost us the game," coach Larry Coker said.

Vince Wilfork was flagged three times for being offsides. There were pass interference calls that were obvious.

But there also were a few calls that could have cost UM the game. There was a chop block on Willis McGahee that wiped out a 53-yard completion from Ken Dorsey to Roscoe Parrish with Miami down 20-14. There was a personal foul against Jonathan Vilma for taunting after Rix was upended on a 7-yard run and lay prone on the turf. That came on a third-down play that would have ended the drive; instead, FSU drove for another score and a 27-14 lead.

"I said, "Good try.' Something like that," Vilma said.

The crew was made up of officials from the ACC, and after Vilma's penalty, Coker had a talk with the head of the crew.

"I said, "Let's not give them the game,' " Coker said.

Dorsey said the calls didn't rattle UM.

"You've go to play the game as it's going," he said. "You don't always agree with all the calls, but it would be the same with Big East officials. That's part of playing football; we had to overcome that."

Added guard Sherko Haji-Rasouli: "Some of the calls were kind of tight. I got called for illegal man downfield and I only stepped a couple of yards up the field. But we have to be more composed. When we got down I think we got a little desperate. We were down and guys were trying to make something happen."

ODDS AND ENDS: For the first time this season, UM trailed at the half (17-14). It was the first time the Hurricanes trailed after two quarters since falling behind Washington 20-3 on Sept. 9, 2000. That also was UM's last defeat. ... FSU was scoreless in the first quarter for the first time this season. ... There have been seven games decided by 1 point in the FSU-Miami series. FSU is 0-7.

-- BOB HARIG, MICHAEL SNYDER

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