College football: Florida State 41 - Wake Forest 24
Like he's been there before
Freshman QB Drew Weatherford's poise and a big pass to freshman Greg Carr make FSU's winning difference.
By BRIAN LANDMAN, Times Staff Writer
Published October 9, 2005
[Times photo: Willie J. Allen Jr.]
Greg Carr races past Wake Forest freshman cornerback Kevin Patterson for a 63-yard reception in the fourth quarter that led to a decisive touchdown for the Seminoles.
TALLAHASSEE - The Florida State offense found itself in the kind of situation in the fourth quarter against pesky Wake Forest in which a veteran quarterback is usually a must.
Clinging to a lead that had dwindled to three points, the Seminoles faced a third-and-15 at their 21 and Drew Weatherford, a redshirt freshman, had misfired on five straight attempts.
Not good, huh?
But it's not all bad if your young quarterback is Weatherford.
Showing uncommon poise despite a blitz he knew would deliver a punishing hit, Weatherford lofted a ball to freshman receiver Greg Carr, who made a leaping catch and then carried defenders for a 63-yard gain that set up a crucial touchdown in a 41-24 win at Doak Campbell Stadium.
"That was a key play there," coach Bobby Bowden said. "That was big. In the second half, that was the biggest play we made."
On a Saturday afternoon when the offense had to rescue its defense, something as uncommon as a cool summer day in Florida, the No. 4-ranked Seminoles (5-0, 3-0 in the ACC) are showing they can win as their youthful players gain experience.
Not if your freshmen play beyond their years, as Weatherford and Carr continue to do.
Weatherford, the former Land O'Lakes star, threw for 351 yards and three touchdowns, both career-highs. He added a rushing touchdown, his second of the season, to give him 12 touchdowns, matching the number that Wyatt Sexton and Chris Rix combined for in 2004.
Meanwhile, the 6-foot-6 Carr, who didn't have a ball thrown his way last week against Syracuse, celebrated his 20th birthday with three catches for a career-best 129 yards and his team-leading fifth touchdown.
But no play was as vital as the 63-yard hookup.
"We were saying in the huddle, "We're going to be okay. Somebody just make a play,' " Carr said.
Weatherford could have been a bit overwhelmed given the circumstances. The Demon Deacons (2-4, 1-2), fresh off an upset of Clemson, rallied from a 20-7 halftime deficit on a field goal and touchdown by star tailback Chris Barclay to trail 20-17.
Weatherford, working behind a line that was facing constant blitzes and had lost star senior Matt Meinrod to a fractured left fibula and dislocated ankle, missed receiver Willie Reid on first and second downs and then was called for a delay of game.
"Against Miami (in the opener), you could kind of see it on his face," senior center David Castillo said of Weatherford. "I told him, "When you start getting worried and you start getting frustrated, it worries us, so you've got to go out there with your poker face on.' Ever since then, he's done nothing but that."
He again wore the look of a veteran.
"I didn't realize that I had five incompletions (in a row); I try not to linger on things in the past," Weatherford said. "I just knew we had to get something going."
FSU called a play in which its inside receivers would run out routes and Carr, on the outside, would run a takeoff. At the line, Weatherford saw 5-10 freshman cornerback Kevin Patterson one-on-one with Carr. A mismatch, he knew, if he had the time.
"We dialed up the exact call we needed," Wake Forest coach Jim Grobe said of the blitz. "We hit him right as he threw."
"I didn't know if it was going to come to me or not, but I was ready," Carr said. "The DB was looking back at the ball and I didn't know if he was going to try to make a play on it or try to make a play on me."
So he stopped and came back toward the ball, outjumped Patterson and took off down the sideline with Patterson clinging to him as other Demon Deacons began a 20-yard chase.
"The thing you really hate, you would like to be over the top on that and if you don't make the play on the ball, then you at least make the tackle," Grobe lamented. "But to have missed the ball and let him run was really, really huge. I thought at that point if we get off the field right there and give it back to the offense, then it really gets interesting."
It didn't. Weatherford followed with a 16-yard touchdown to another heralded freshman receiver, Fred Rouse, for a 27-17 lead with 14:27 left. He then hit tailback Leon Washington with a flare pass that Washington turned into a 61-yard touchdown before Xavier Lee took over and added a touchdown.
Former Dixie Hollins star Kevin Marion scored a cosmetic touchdown in the final seconds for Wake Forest, which amassed 415 yards against a defense that was seventh nationally in total defense allowing just 254.5 yards.
"That play right there could have totally changed the outcome of the game," Castillo said. "It was definitely a momentum play. ... You've got to credit Drew for really taking charge out there."