A great makes it official
FSU up to the challenge
© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2000
NEW ORLEANS -- Eventually, Michael Vick's mistakes couldn't overcome the leadership that enabled him to rally Virginia Tech from what seemed to be a brutal defeat.
It was still a defeat, 46-29 to Florida State in the Sugar Bowl Tuesday night with the national championship up for grabs. But it wasn't easy.
"We played our hearts out and that's all you can do," said Vick, Tech's redshirt freshman quarterback. "Anything else would have been uncivilized. We did our best. We had it in our hands to win but Florida State did it better. They deserve it. ...
"It was a great season and we had a shot to make it perfect. A shot, that's all you can ask for."
What appeared early to be the makings of a blowout turned into a nail-biter in which Tech took a 29-28 lead into the fourth quarter.
"We came back. That just shows the heart of this team, how much we wanted to win," Vick said. "We are champions. Win, lose or draw, we are champions."
Except where it counts. Ultimately, FSU regained the lead and, with Virginia Tech thrust into a situation where he would have to pass the Hokies to victory, the Seminoles pinned their ears back and went after him with a vengeance.
"We did some very uncharacteristic things," coach Frank Beamer said of his troubled special-teams play. "We made a great comeback in the third quarter, then they came back. You've got to give them credit."
"We have a great offense," Vick added. "We made a lot of big plays, we played hard from the first minute of the ballgame to the last minute of the ballgame. But when they got up on us again, too late, we couldn't do anything."
Vick, as elusive as sobriety on Bourbon Street as he danced and passed his way through an FSU defense gone porous late in the second quarter and through all of the third, was a sitting duck when he had to stand and look for receivers unable to shake loose from the Seminole secondary.
He was a remarkable third in the balloting last month for the Heisman Trophy. The offense was almost entirely focused on him.
"It wasn't about me," he said. "It wasn't about me doing anything personally. I wanted to come out here and help my team win the game."
But two fumbles and a penalty helped doom the Hokies, who finished 11-1.
"I made a couple of mistakes, two fumbles," he said. "But I mean, that happens. I can't be perfect every day. I can't win them all. ... It wasn't about me doing anything personal(ly)."
Vick fumbled away Tech's first drive at the Florida State 7-yard line.
His intentional grounding penalty, a 20-yard loss to the VT 8-yard line, put the Seminoles in position to block a Jimmy Kibble punt. Jeff Chaney scooped it up and dived 4 yards for a touchdown.
And with Virginia Tech still very much in the game, Vick fumbled again, allowing FSU to build its lead to 39-29. That forced the Hokies to gamble on a fake field goal in their own territory. It was their second. Both failed. The first didn't cost them any points. The second was a crusher, Peter Warrick's 43-yard touchdown catch on the very next play.
"I'm going to take this game back with me next year, hope we can build on it, come back (to the title game) next year and win it all," Vick said.
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