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Gators give Zook big win over FSU in final game

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  • Gators give Zook big win over FSU in final game

    Nov. 20, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- This one was for The Zooker.

    Chris Leak threw a touchdown, Ciatrick Fason ran for a score, and Florida upset No. 10 Florida State 20-13 to win in Tallahassee for the first time since 1986.

    It also gave fired coach Ron Zook a victory in his final regular-season game.

    Condemned since the day he replaced Steve Spurrier in 2002, Zook finally did something the ol' ball coach didn't in his 12 glorious seasons with the Gators. He won at Florida State.

    The players carried Zook off the field, and the coach flashed a big smile that had been missing for much of his three seasons.

    "I congratulated them for a great job, a great effort," Zook said he told his players after the game. "I thanked them for just hanging in there and not quitting."

    The Gators (7-4) ended any legitimate chance the Seminoles had of earning a third straight Bowl Championship Series berth. Florida State (8-3) still could finish tied for the Atlantic Coast Conference title but probably would lose all tiebreaker scenarios because of its BCS ranking, which is expected to drop Monday.

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    Florida also spoiled a special night for longtime Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden. Before the game, the school named its playing surface "Bobby Bowden Field" and unveiled a 20-by-30 foot stained glass window at the stadium featuring Bowden's likeness.

    Spurrier --- 0-5-1 in six trips to Tallahassee -- must have loved the upset, too.

    The Gators threw with relative ease against Florida State's vaunted defense. Leak finished 19-for-39 for 231 yards with an interception.

    "He's very mature for a sophomore," Bowden said. "He plays like a senior. He did a great job."

    Fason's 8-yard touchdown run with 4:59 remaining put the Gators ahead for good.

    "I saw a lot of guys leaving everything on the field and we won it for Coach," Fason said. "I think this will help him in looking for a job."

    Zook's farewell fairy tale almost turned into a redemption story for Florida State, though.

    Embattled quarterback Chris Rix came off the bench and threw a touchdown pass with 8:30 to play that cut the lead to 13-10.

    He rolled right and heaved a pass into the end zone that Chauncey Stovall caught over Vernell Brown. The pass was reminiscent of Rix's 52-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam with 55 seconds remaining last season that gave the Seminoles a 38-34 win.

    Rix also drove the Seminoles to the 18-yard line in the waning seconds, but his last pass was intercepted by Jarvis Harris with 8 seconds to play. Rix finished 9-of-16 for 150 yards.

    "He brought us back and nearly pulled it out," Bowden said. "He came in and made a big play, like he did last year against them. But we needed to make one more."

    Florida players then grabbed a bucket of water and drenched Zook. They quickly surrounded him and started jumping up and down as they hoisted him into the air and carried him toward midfield. After he shook hands with Bowden and did a few interviews, the players raised him up again and carried him off.

    Zook pumped his right fist and then held the game ball up high as he exited into a tunnel.

    After the game, he again said he hasn't decided whether to coach the bowl game.

    "There have been so many things go through my mind the last month," Zook said. "I just love these players and I'm so happy and I'm so proud of them. I can't say enough for them, about them or how good they are. Young guys get better. The only way you get better is play."

    Florida State starter Wyatt Sexton was 9-of-23 passing for 88 yards in the first half, but Bowden resisted the temptation to make a change at halftime - even though Rix has tormented the Gators.

    The senior completed 61 percent of his passes for 679 yards with six touchdowns and one interception the last three years against the Gators, winning the past two games.

    But after Sexton threw an interception late in the third quarter, Bowden made the move. Sexton was 14-of-32 for 164 yards and was sacked three times.

    Rix completed his first two passes and drove the Seminoles into field goal range. But Gary Cismesia missed a 32-yarder. Cismesia, who had been perfect in seven tries since replacing senior Xavier Beitia midway through the season, also missed from 39 yards out on the first play of the fourth quarter.

    Beitia got the call after the second miss and nailed a career-high 52-yard field goal with 3:48 remaining that made it a seven-point game.

    Zook - with nothing to lose since he was fired last month - made a gutsy call with 2:35 to play and gambled on fourth-and-inches from the Florida 26. Had the play failed, the Seminoles would have been in great position to tie the game.

    But Leak got the first down on a quarterback keeper.

    "I asked the offensive line if they could get 6 inches and they said yes," Zook said.

    The Gators eventually were forced to punt, but the time taken off the clock left little time for Rix to engineer the tying score.

    "The first thing that comes to mind is missed opportunities," Bowden said. "Zook did an excellent job, their quarterback did an excellent job and we couldn't make enough plays to beat them. They probably made one more play than we did."

    AP NEWS
    The Associated Press News Service

    Copyright 2004, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved

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  • DJRamFan
    Gophers grind out Music City victory over Alabama
    by DJRamFan
    Dec. 31, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Marion Barber III heard all about how Alabama stopped Auburn's vaunted running backs.

    Barber and teammate Laurence Maroney simply thought they were better.

    Barber ran for 187 yards and a touchdown and Maroney added 105 yards to lead Minnesota to a 20-16 victory over Alabama in the Music City Bowl on Friday.

    Barber and Maroney, the only teammates in NCAA history to each rush for 1,000 yards in consecutive seasons, were the only runners to go for more than 100 yards in a game this season against the Crimson Tide, who entered with the nation's second-ranked defense.

    "They're a duo, and they're both going to come at you," Minnesota coach Glen Mason said, grinning. "They must be pretty good, I guess."

    Alabama held Auburn to just 74 yards rushing in the Crimson Tide's final game, but Barber wasn't impressed.

    "I never looked at that," the soft-spoken Barber said. "We just came in more prepared."

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    The Golden Gophers (7-5) ran for 276 yards to overcome three turnovers -- including two by Barber -- on their first three drives. Still, they nearly gave the game away in the fourth quarter.

    Rhys Lloyd, who made field goals from 27 and 24 yards, missed a 24-yard attempt with 5:34 left that would have sealed the victory. Mason admitted he was worried since Minnesota lost games late against Michigan and Iowa.

    "When we missed the field goal that would have put us in pretty good shape, I said, 'Here we go again,'" Mason said. "I know if I'm thinking that, so are our kids, but we fought through."

    On Minnesota's next possession, it was pinned deep in its own end and elected to take a safety to make it 20-16 rather than attempt a punt.

    The decision nearly backfired.

    Alabama's Tyrone Prothro returned the free kick to the Minnesota 48, and four completions by Spencer Pennington got the Crimson Tide to the 15. But Pennington overthrew a Prothro in the end zone on third down and couldn't convert a fourth-and-5 with 1:14 to left, ending the game.

    "That's all you can ask for, a chance to win the game," Pennington said. "Prothro was open, and I threw it a little high."

    Alabama (6-6), making an NCAA-record 52nd bowl appearance, was forced to throw throughout the game with leading rusher Kenneth Darby limited because of an abdominal strain. The Crimson Tide had minus-2 yards rushing in the first half and finished with 21.

    Pennington, who finished 22-of-36 for 243 yards and a touchdown, frequently tried to let receivers make plays using short passes.

    "We didn't execute the way we should have," he said. "We felt...
    -12-31-2004, 03:57 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Greene gets Dawgs started, then helps Georgia finish off Jackets
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    ATHENS, Ga. -- David Greene saw the game slipping away. His left thumb was hurting, but he wanted to go back in.

    Good thing for Georgia that he did.

    After leading the No. 8 Bulldogs to an early lead over Georgia Tech, Greene returned at the end with a fractured thumb to make sure Georgia held on for a 19-13 victory Saturday.

    "I felt the momentum slipping," said Greene, who guided the Bulldogs to a crucial field goal late in the game. "I took my coat off. I took the brace off my thumb. If anything, I just wanted to give us a little spark."

    Greene was hurt on Georgia's first series, fracturing the tip of the thumb on his throwing hand just before he tossed a 28-yard touchdown pass to Fred Gibson. The senior quarterback played one more series before heading to the sideline, apparently to sit out the rest of the game.

    Not so fast.

    With just over seven minutes remaining and the Bulldogs (9-2) struggling to preserve their fourth straight win over the Yellow Jackets, Greene trotted back on the field. He couldn't make any deep throws, and he worked only out of the shotgun to lessen the pain when taking the snap.

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    But the mere presence of Greene -- the winningest quarterback in major-college history -- seemed to have a calming influence on the offense, which struggled through most of the second half with backup D.J. Shockley at the helm.

    Greene completed a couple of passes on a 40-yard drive that set up Brandon Coutu's first career field goal, a 44-yarder with 2:22 left.

    "Greene wasn't at his best physically, but he was at his best in the leadership role and leading us to that last field goal," coach Mark Richt said. "Without it, we're probably still playing right now."

    Indeed, Georgia Tech (6-5) gave the Bulldogs quite a scare when Reggie Ball threw a 38-yard pass to Levon Thomas, who split four defenders to haul in the ball at the Georgia 21.

    After completing a pass for no gain, Ball was sacked for an 11-yard loss by Quentin Moses. At that point, the Yellow Jackets lost track of the downs.

    Ball raced up to the line to spike the ball, stopping the clock but leaving Georgia Tech with fourth-and-21. On the next play, he rolled right under heavy pressure and just lofted the ball out of bounds to avoid the sack.

    "The scoreboard said one thing, the refs said another," Ball said. "When you've got a game that close, you've got to expect a little home cooking. You've got to fight through it."

    The Yellow Jackets looked stunned when the official signaled a first down going the other way. The offense slowly walked off the field, and Georgia took a knee to end the game, which was played...
    -11-28-2004, 06:26 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Georgia holds off Wisconsin as Greene picks up one final win
    by DJRamFan
    Jan. 1, 2005
    SportsLine.com wire reports

    TAMPA, Fla. -- As the winningest quarterback in NCAA history, Georgia's David Greene leaves behind quite a legacy.

    "If I could hope, it would maybe just be the guy found a way to win. Not for being the best quarterback, but one who found a way," Greene said Saturday after delivering one last time for the eighth-ranked Bulldogs in a 24-21 victory over No. 16 Wisconsin in the Outback Bowl.

    The senior from Snellville, Ga., threw for 264 yards and two touchdowns in his farewell, continuing his assault on the Southeastern Conference record book and adding victory No. 42 to his NCAA mark.

    As usual, he got lots of help.

    There was Thomas Brown, who ran for 111 yards and one touchdown, as well as Fred Gibson and Jeremy Thomas, who caught TD passes.

    Lombardi Award winner David Pollack did his part, too, forcing a crucial fumble with one of his three sacks to capture Outback MVP award.

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    The Bulldogs (10-2) improved to 42-10 in four years under coach Mark Richt, the second-best run for a Georgia senior class behind the 43-4-1 record compiled while winning a national championship and three straight SEC titles in the early 1980s.

    "This has been the best four years of my life," Pollack said. "Don't cry because it's over. Smile."

    Greene has started every game since Richt took over in 2001. He surpassed Peyton Manning's SEC and NCAA mark for career wins (39) this season and finished 17-1 against nonconference opponents.

    The victory gave Georgia at least 10 wins for the third straight season, one shy of the school record set from 1980-83. The Bulldogs were 13-1 with a No. 3 ranking in 2002 and finished 11-3 with a No. 7 ranking in 2003.

    "Hopefully the whole Bulldog nation will always remember this senior class because we did a great job," Gibson said. "Three years in a row 10-win seasons, you couldn't ask for anything better than that."

    Greene completed 19 of 38 passes, but also was intercepted twice after throwing only two during the regular season. Wisconsin's Andy Crooks returned the second pick 11 yards for a touchdown, and John Stocco's 2-point conversion pass to Jonathan Orr cut Georgia's lead to three points with 4:13 to go.

    The Bulldogs didn't give the Badgers (9-3) a chance to get closer, driving to the Wisconsin 5 before taking a knee on successive plays to run out the clock. Brown gained 49 of his 111 yards rushing on the final drive.

    Wisconsin finished with a three-game losing streak after beginning the season 9-0 to climb into national title contention, but losses to Michigan State and Iowa by a combined 79-21 cost the Badgers a share of the Big Ten title and a spot in the Rose Bowl. ...
    -01-01-2005, 03:53 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Syracuse trounces BC to force four-way tie for Big East title
    by DJRamFan
    Nov. 27, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    BOSTON -- If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

    Syracuse wasn't able to follow Boston College to the Atlantic Coast Conference or stop the Eagles from leaving the Big East. The one thing the Orange could do was deprive BC of a spot in the Bowl Championship Series and a farewell Big East title.

    "We heard it all week," said defensive back turned running back Diamond Ferri, who scored two touchdowns on offense and one on defense to help Syracuse beat No. 17 Boston College 43-17 on Saturday. "If they want to leave the conference, we wanted to send them out with a loss."

    BC needed a victory for its first outright championship in a league that has been depleted by the defections of Miami and Virginia Tech to the ACC. The Eagles will join them next year but Syracuse, which tried to leave before being bypassed, made sure that they left on a sour note.

    Damien Rhodes ran for a 69-yard touchdown on the game's first play from scrimmage and 107 yards in all before leaving with a leg injury. With star tailback Walter Reyes already injured, the Orange (6-5, 4-2) turned to Ferri, a starting safety and former high school running back from nearby Everett, Mass.

    "That's probably one of the biggest performances I've ever seen in my entire life, in any sport, to be able to come in and play big-time college football like that," Rhodes said of his understudy.

    The Orange, who woke up Saturday morning ineligible for a bowl, moved into a four-way tie with BC (8-3, 4-2), Pittsburgh and West Virginia for first place in the conference. Syracuse has a chance at a BCS game if Pittsburgh loses to South Florida next week; if Pitt wins it would likely earn a Fiesta Bowl matchup with Utah.

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    "It gives us a share of the Big East championship. We've had a lot of special things that have happened here, but it's pretty special," Syracuse coach Paul Pasqualoni said. "I'm just going to enjoy that we're bowl-eligible."

    BC will go to its sixth consecutive bowl game, but it will be a second- or third-tier event like the Insight or Gator. Athletic director Gene DeFilippo said six or more different bowl games could be in play.

    But the Fiesta and Sugar, BC's goals at the start of the day, are out.

    "I suspect at 8-3 we will go somewhere, but who knows where we'll end up," coach Tom O'Brien said. "We need another football game, especially for the seniors. ... For them, we need to play another football game."

    Ferri ran for 141 yards two touchdowns and scored again on a 44-yard interception that made it 36-17 and sealed the victory in the fourth quarter. Perry Patterson was 9-for-16 for 88 yards, adding 48 yards rushing and a touchdown in what could be Pasqualoni's...
    -11-28-2004, 06:20 PM
  • DJRamFan
    Fresno State dominates Big 12 champs in shocking rout
    by DJRamFan
    Sept. 11, 2004
    SportsLine.com wire reports
    MANHATTAN, Kan. -- In 2001, Fresno State made a run at breaking into the Bowl Championship Series by beating big-name teams.

    The Bulldogs are at it again.

    Fresno State's 45-21 upset of No. 13 Kansas State was its second victory over a team from a BCS conference in seven days -- and their seventh since the BCS was established in 1999.

    With the big payday a BCS bowl guarantees, perhaps it's fitting that coach Pat Hill used a poker metaphor to describe his team's situation.

    "We are still at the main table," Hill said. "We were all in. We picked up all their chips, and now we've got a bigger pile -- and next week we'll go all in again."

    Fresno State (2-0) didn't have to catch many breaks against the Wildcats, either. After giving up an early touchdown on Bret Jones' 42-yard interception return, they dominated the defending Big 12 Conference champions the rest of the game.

    Bulldogs running back Dwayne Wright scored two touchdowns before tearing a tendon in his right knee in the fourth quarter, sidelining him for the season.

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    Bryson Sumlin was originally credited with Wright's second touchdown, but Kansas State officials gave the TD to Wright after reviewing the tape.

    Paul Pinegar threw two touchdown passes to Matt Rivera and ran for another score, and Sumlin added one TD run in Fresno State's biggest win over a ranked team -- and the Wildcats' worst regular-season nonconference loss in 13 years.

    "I've been here for 16 years," Kansas State coach Bill Snyder said. "You can remember some of the 1-10 and 5-6 (seasons). We never had a football team that just got beat up as badly as we did today."

    The Bulldogs' 45 points were the most given up by the Wildcats in a regular-season nonconference game since a 56-3 loss to Washington in 1991. Fresno State's previous most decisive win over a ranked team was a 44-24 defeat of Oregon State, then ranked 10th, in 2001.

    That season the Bulldogs, from the Western Athletic Conference, also knocked off Colorado and Wisconsin on the road.

    Kansas State (1-1) led 7-0 before it took a snap, but the Wildcats couldn't do much right after Jones' defensive touchdown less than 3 minutes into the game. They had only 2 yards of offense in the first quarter and trailed 31-14 at the half.

    Fresno State's defense, which scored three times in last Sunday's 35-16 win at Washington, held Kansas State star Darren Sproles to 37 yards on 11 carries and forced two key turnovers.

    "We realized that if we stopped him, it would be no contest," said cornerback Richard Marshall, who set up a touchdown with a third-quarter interception. "We knew the only person they have...
    -09-13-2004, 01:24 PM
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