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Tommy trumps dear old dad

James Davis' 1-yard run in the final seconds secures a huge victory for the son in his father's back yard.

By BRIAN LANDMAN
Published September 17, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - Maybe Clemson coach Tommy Bowden has his old man's number.

His Tigers, who squandered an 11-point second-half lead, shocked his father's team, Florida State, with a touchdown with 8 seconds left for a 27-20 win Saturday before an announced crowd of 83,510 at Doak Campbell Stadium.

"It's about time you beat us here," FSU coach Bobby Bowden told his son afterward.

Clemson, which hadn't won at Doak Campbell since 1989, has now won three of the last four meetings and two straight in the Bowden Bowl. The Tigers (2-1, 1-1) also become just the second ACC team to win here in 58 games, joining North Carolina State. The Wolfpack has done it twice (2001 and 2005).

"To come down here and win is awful difficult," Tommy Bowden said. "Momentum changes are easier to overcome at home, obviously, than on the road. The players' no-give-up attitude was instrumental in that."

With the game tied and just 2:22 left, the Tigers, who had four straight three-and-outs and a minus 5 yards offense since taking a 20-9 lead in the second half, showed that moxie.

Running back James Davis ran 2 yards, then 14 yards, and quarterback Will Proctor hit receiver Aaron Kelly for 18 more to move the ball to the Clemson 49. On the next play, the Tigers caught the Seminoles off guard.

Or maybe it was off tackle.

That's where Davis went- for 47 yards.

"It was a gutsy call by the offensive coordinator (Rob Spence) to run a play with the clock running out," said FSU cornerback Tony Carter, who kept his team in the game in the first half by returning a blocked extra point for two points and then a blocked field goal for a touchdown. "If we went into overtime, we had the crowd behind us and we felt like we had the momentum at the time. I don't think overtime would have been a good idea for them."

The Tigers lost last week on the road to Boston College in double overtime, thanks to a botched extra point. So, the Seminoles were expecting a pass and were trying to get organized when Clemson ran.

"We weren't set at the time," linebacker Lawrence Timmons said. "But the defense still has to make plays. We can't make any excuses."

Davis capped the winning drive with a 1-yard run three plays later.

The No. 9 Seminoles (2-1, 1-1) are searching for answers and looking up at Boston College in the ACC Atlantic Division standings.

Although they ran the ball better (102 yards after just a total of 46 in the first two games), the passing attack led by sophomore quarterback Drew Weatherford struggled. Weatherford had just 102 yards, not even half of his average.

"Awful," he said. "I don't know what our problem was. A lot of it was I didn't throw the ball very well tonight. It always seemed like something. We had receivers fall down on routes, trip up. We just didn't execute."

And that came against an inexperienced and injury-plagued defense.

"I couldn't understand it," Bobby Bowden said. "We couldn't throw tonight. ... That's a mystery to me."

Clemson got a 14-9 halftime lead, then Proctor, Davis and company opened the second half with an impressive drive.

He hit Davis for 54 yards and capped the drive himself with a career-long 20-yard scramble for a touchdown and a 20-9 lead. A two-point conversion, however, failed.

FSU responded with a 14-play drive, but it had to settle for a 25-yard field goal by Gary Cismesia with 3:19 left in the third quarter. After the defense held, Weatherford marched his team downfield.

He hit receiver Chris Davis for a 26-yard gain, but it was the running game (10 times for the other 27 yards) that made the difference.

Fullback Joe Surratt scored from the 1 and Weatherford found Davis for the tying two-point conversion with 10:27 left. The Seminoles looked like they had the game in hand when Proctor fumbled at the 8 and Timmons recovered. The play was reviewed and dual possession was called, so Clemson kept possession. The Seminoles held again, but they couldn't move the ball and had to punt, setting the stage for Clemson and Davis.

"We played good enough to win the game," Bobby Bowden said, "until that last drive."