tampabay.com

Linebacker's tackles, touchdown help preserve victory

By D.C. REEVES
Published November 19, 2006


TALLAHASSEE - Defensive end Kevin McNeill calls him a freak of nature.

"I've never seen someone play like that before," the wide-eyed freshman said.

And it was Lawrence Timmons doing something unnatural, for him at least, against Western Michigan that propelled FSU to victory Saturday.

The linebacker nabbed his first career interception and returned it for a touchdown to help FSU become bowl eligible.

Watching Western Michigan quarterback Ryan Cubit throw the same sideline route during the first half, Timmons beat running back Kirk Elsworth to the pass with 1:20 left in the third quarter and returned it 22 yards to give FSU a 21-13 lead.

"That was big," coach Bobby Bowden said. "We had a one-point lead when that happened. Those are the kind of turnovers you've got to have to win."

It was more of a relief for Timmons.

"I had tipped two passes before that. I was glad that I got to at least one of them," Timmons said.

"They threw the same pattern two or three times. Before that, I was kind of late on it. But this time, I was on it."

The junior from Florence, S.C., who last season returned a blocked punt for a touchdown and this season returned a fumble for one, added eight tackles - one for loss - and three pass breakups. His 18 tackles for loss this season are fourth most in school history.

"You watch (Florida State) defensively, and golly, they got some people running around there," Western Michigan coach Bill Cubit said. "You watch them on tape, and you say they are good. Then you watch them in person and ... holy smokes!"

Despite the FSU defense's athleticism, Cubit and his quarterbacking son had it on the ropes, outgaining FSU 262-251 and having a shot to tie in the closing seconds.

Western Michigan converted two fourth downs on the game's final drive before stalling in the red zone.

Timmons and his speed showed up then, too. On the final play, he lined up in coverage on receiver Herb Martin. The ball was thrown to Martin. But he was heavily defended by the time the ball arrived, and it went incomplete.

"It's always good to know that Lawrence Timmons is behind you," McNeill said.

Saturday, the Western Michigan offense couldn't say the same thing.