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FSU nips Tech again

As usual of late, the Jackets come close but the 'Noles win 26-21.

By BRIAN LANDMAN

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 10, 2000


ATLANTA -- Time and time again during Florida State's championship run last season, quarterback Chris Weinke was at his best when his team needed him the most.

Times haven't changed.

The 28-year-old senior looked like a Heisman Trophy favorite with a virtuoso fourth-quarter performance to lead the Seminoles to a 26-21 come-from-behind win against Georgia Tech Saturday before 46,381 at Bobby Dodd Stadium.

Down 15-12 early in the final quarter to the Atlantic Coast Conference school that has given his team the most fits the last couple of years, Weinke responded as folks have come to expect.

On the next two possessions, he completed 5 of 5 passes for 140 yards, capping the first with a 30-yard dart to junior receiver Robert Morgan, then handing off to junior fullback William McCray for a 1-yard touchdown run.

"I thought he played extremely well," a relieved FSU coach Bobby Bowden said. "He did a good job of adjusting to what they were doing and obviously hit some big plays. He once again showed what he's made of when he brought us back from behind."

Weinke finished with a career-high 433 yards on 25-for-38 passing to become the school's all-time leader with 6,433 yards, overtaking Gary Huff, who had 6,378 from 1970-72.

"I didn't even know it," he said of the record. "I was so focused on the game and getting us a win. It's a great honor when you look at some of the great quarterbacks who have played at Florida State. ... This is not an individual game. I'm surrounded by a great group of receivers and it makes it easier when you put the ball in those guys' hands. They're as deserving of this recognition as I am."

The No. 2-ranked Seminoles (2-0, 1-0), who own the nation's longest winning streak at 14 games, have beaten Georgia Tech every year since joining the league in 1992.

Not that they've been easy.

Especially of late.

FSU won a shootout 41-35 last season in Tallahassee, surviving a near-flawless showing by eventual Heisman runner-up Joe Hamilton.

In 1998, visiting FSU led just 10-7 in the fourth quarter before pulling away for a 34-7 win when Hamilton went out with an injury.

In that game, the inexperienced George Godsey, a former Tampa Jesuit star, couldn't rally his team.

Well, Godsey, after a shaky start on this night, looked like a major-college quarterback in the second half for the second straight week.

He led the Yellow Jackets (1-1, 0-1) to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns in the final few minutes to nip Central Florida in the opener.

This time, with the Jackets down just 12-7 in the third quarter, he and backup Jermaine Crenshaw rotated on almost every play and keyed a remarkable 13-play, 63-yard, 5:49-drive that ended on tailback Joe Burns' 8-yard touchdown run. Godsey then hit sophomore receiver Kerry Watkins on the two-point conversion for a 15-12 lead with 3:17 left in the third quarter.

Consider: Tech's only other score came on a cornerback's Marvious Hester 50-yard interception return of a Marcus Outzen pass that turned the momentum of the game in the second quarter.

Down for the first time, the Seminoles marched downfield, but the drive ended when Weinke looked to junior Javon Walker, who he had hooked up with on a 63-yard touchdown late in the first quarter to give FSU a 10-0 lead, on a fourth and 5 from the Tech 26.

But freshman cornerback Jonathan Cox broke up the pass.

Not too worry.

When FSU got the ball back, Weinke took control.

As he did last year against Clemson. And Florida. And Virginia Tech.

Godsey answered with a 27-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Jon Muyres to cut the defict to 26-21 with 4:50 left.

The Tech defense held, but reserve cornerback Stanford Samuels broke up Godsey's pass intended for Watkins on a fourth and 2 from the FSU 40 with 1:35 left.

"We made some mistakes against the No. 2 team in the country," Godsey said. "Three-and-out when we were up really hurt us."

So did Weinke.

"He simply had to sit back and fire," Bowden said. "And the kids had to make catches and they did. The kids kept making the catches and we were able to win."

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