FSU Wins With Big 4th Quarter
by Mike Mitchell
Florida State outscored UCLA 31-7 in the second half, 21-0 in the 4th quarter, for a 44-27 win in the Emerald Bowl. In doing so, the Seminoles avoided giving Bobby Bowden his first losing season since his debut year in Tallahassee in 1976.
It was Florida State's 20th win in a bowl game and boosted its postseason record to 20-13-2. UCLA slipped to 13-14-1 over-all in bowl games and just 3-7 in its last ten. The loss dropped the PAC-10 to 0-3 in bowl games, so far.
It was Bobby Bowden's 366th victory as a head coach.
The 44 points were the third-most that Florida State scored in a single game in the 2006 season, topped only by the 55 against Rice and 51 versus Duke. It was their highest point total in the last seven games.
Throughout the first half and into the third quarter, UCLA had an answer for everything Florida State did. After FSU scored first to take a 7-0 lead, UCLA needed just one play to tie the score on a 78-yard touchdown pass. When the Seminoles knotted the score at 10-10 in the second quarter, the Bruins reeled off 10 unanswered points to take their largest lead of the game at 20-10. And in the third quarter, after Florida State went ahead 23-20 on a 25-yard blocked punt return, UCLA responded with a 6-play 57-yard drive to regain the lead at 27-23.
But the fourth quarter was a different story.
After the Seminoles went back on top on a 30-yard touchdown pass, UCLA was forced to punt on a series that went three downs and out. Florida State capitalized on great field position and went 51 yards in six plays to increase its lead to 37-27. A great kick return put UCLA in good shape at their own 48 to start the
next series and the Bruins advanced to the FSU 25 on the first play. But three plays later, Tony Carter intercepted a Patrick Cowan pass at his 13 and returned it 87 yards for the coffin-nailer. The final five minutes for UCLA produced a turnover on downs and another interception.
Lorenzo Booker led all Florida State rushers and receivers. Booker ran for 91 yards and 2 touchdowns, and added 117 receiving yards on 5 catches. Drew Weatherford threw for 126 of his 325 yards in the fourth quarter. Over-all though, he completed just under 50 percent of his passes on a 21-of-43 night with 1 TD and 1 INT.
Cowan's night was spotty for UCLA as he completed under 42 percent of his passes but had 2 first-half touchdown passes, including the perfectly thrown 78-yard dart to Brandon Breazell in the first quarter. Running back Chris Markey rushed for 144 yards on 19 carries.
The two teams were just a yard apart in total offense with UCLA holding a 434-433 yard edge. But the Bruins gave up four turnovers on two interceptions, a fumble and a blocked punt that turned in to 21 FSU points. Florida State turned the ball over just once - on an interception on their opening drive of the game.
A sellout crowd of 40,331 fans witnessed the affair at AT&T Park, home of Major League Baseball's San Francisco Giants. The odd setup for football left the outfield wall practically up against the back of one end zone, and both teams positioned on the same sideline.