SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) -- Bobby Bowden probably has seen more than
enough of dome football for his liking.
Leon Washington rushed for a career-high 164 yards and scored
twice in the second half, and No. 8 Florida State survived a major
scare, rallying past Syracuse 17-13 on Saturday night.
It was the 346th victory in Bowden's storied career, and he knew
the Seminoles (4-1) were lucky to walk out of the Carrier Dome with
"They should have won the ballgame," Bowden said after his
first game on artificial turf in a domed stadium since losing to
Georgia in the 2002 Sugar Bowl in the Louisiana Superdome. "They
outfought us. They outhustled us. They out-executed us. I don't
know how we won. If it were Virginia out there tonight, we would
have lost by four touchdowns."
It was the third game against a ranked team for Syracuse (3-3),
and unlike the previous two -- a 51-0 loss at No. 9 Purdue and a
31-10 loss at No. 10 Virginia -- the Orange made it difficult for
the Seminoles and quarterback Wyatt Sexton, who was making his
first road start.
Syracuse wasted two brilliant plays by safety Diamond Ferri. He
put the Orange in terrific scoring position twice -- with a fumble
return and an interception -- and they failed to score both times.
Against Florida State, that is a recipe for disaster, and the
tide began to turn late in the third quarter with Syracuse clinging
to a 10-3 lead.
"We left some points out on the field," said Syracuse coach
Paul Pasqualoni, whose job may be on the line after two lackluster
seasons. "In a game like this against an opponent like this, you
like to capitalize."
Instead, it was Washington who took advantage of some great
blocks. He scored on a 21-yard run late in the third to tie it at
10-all and capped the victory with a 45-yard dash down the left
side early in the fourth.
"The main thing was just picking my feet up," said Washington,
who also caught four passes for 24 yards. "We had to be patient
with our runs. The second half we just came out in the kicking
frame of mind and decided to run the ball."
And stop the Syracuse running attack. A week after rushing for
360 yards against Rutgers, the Orange were held to 58 yards on 31
carries. In the second half, the Seminoles held Syracuse to minus-2
yards rushing on 15 attempts and just 60 yards of total offense.
"We thrive on shutting down the run game," defensive tackle
Travis Johnson said.
With Chris Rix on the sideline nursing an ankle sprain, Sexton
started his second straight game, and this one was not like the
first. Sexton was 20-for-31 for 193 yards and three TDs in a win
over North Carolina last week. Against the Orange, he was 15-for-26
for 169 yards but maintained his poise in the face of a raucous
Carrier Dome crowd of just over 40,000.
Sexton kept his passes short for most of the game. And when he
opened up with time winding down in the third, he put Syracuse on
its heels with a 24-yard completion to Craphonso Thorpe and a
12-yarder to Chauncey Stovall to set up Washington's first score.
Syracuse closed to 17-13 on a 39-yard field goal by Collin
Barber with 10 minutes left and drove to the Florida State 30 in
the final minute. But linebacker Sam McGrew intercepted Perry
Patterson's pass in the end zone with 5 seconds left.
"It was more of a corner route, and the last thing we thought
would happen was an interception," Pasqualoni said. "I think when
the ball is released, you always have hope."
Patterson, who was brilliant in the first half, completing 10 of
12 for 145 yards and a 44-yard touchdown pass to Jared Jones,
sputtered in the second. He finished 19-for-28 for a career-high
207 yards, but with his passes not connecting, the Orange couldn't
come back against the Seminoles defense.
Syracuse led 10-3 at halftime, and the advantage could have been
larger. Ferri ripped the ball out of Lorenzo Booker's hands at the
Syracuse 25 and returned it 30 yards, but Barber missed wide right
on a 42-yard field goal try with 4:53 left in the second.
After Florida State went three and out, Patterson hit Andre
Fontenette for 33 yards and Reyes gained another 24 on a screen
pass. But three plays later Reyes fumbled on a first-and-goal play
from the 5 and Bryant McFadden recovered for Florida State.
Syracuse missed another great opportunity at the start of the
second half. The Seminoles drove to midfield, but Ferri intercepted
a pass over the middle and returned it 45 yards to the Florida
State 23. When the Orange offense faltered, Barber missed wide left
on a 37-yard field goal.
"I'm thinking of scoring every time I get my hands on the
ball," said Ferri, who began his Syracuse career as a tailback.
"I had the opportunity, I just didn't cash in on it. It's a sore
loss, but it's kind of a boot for us."
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