LINCOLN — Florida State, playing the kid-brother pest throughout, swiped the final page from Nebraska’s storybook finish Saturday at Memorial Stadium.
Nebraska not only lost the game, 18-14, but it lost the services of No. 1 I-back Jarvis Redwine for two to three weeks. Coach Tom Osborne, on his Saturday night television show, said Redwine suffered a cracked rib when he was tackled by several Seminoles late in the fourth quarter.
Osborne said the rib will have to be rested for several weeks.
The Seminoles, who had been operating on the fringe of national elitism in recent seasons, tucked away the drama-drenched verdict by halting a Nebraska cross-country march that came within three yards of ecstasy for the majority of 76,152 in attendance.
With Cornhusker quarterback Jeff Quinn decked on the Astroturf and Seminole tackle Garry Futch snugged around the fumbled ball back at the 10 with 10 ticks left on the clock, Florida State secured its most prestigious victory in history. Nebraska, the two-touchdown favorite carrying a No. 3 national ranking, watched its national championship aspirations, at least for the moment, sail away like the thousands of balloons that accompanied its first touchdown and diverted attention to more immediate goals.
Osborne told his players, “A 3-1 record (in non-conference games) is not great, but it’s not real bad. Our first objective is the Big Eight championship. We’ve got seven games left. We’ll play ‘em the best we can.”
Nebraska’s book on Florida State, now 4-1, read: Great defense, fair offense. It was a sound assessment. The book also carried a footnote that Seminole place kicker Bill Capece had nailed five of six field goal attempts. Late Saturday, it read nine of 10.
Capece’s fourth field goal provided the final margin and made a touchdown a necessity when Nebraska started its desperate rallying drive from its 20 with 2:37 remaining.
Osborne was “proud of the players,” for mustering enough gumption to drive their backers into pandemonium in the remaining time. Two interference penalties and three Quinn completions raised Husker hopes into Seminole territory.
Moments later, the situation looked bleak. Redwine was lying on the 29 and would be helped off with his rib injury. An official was walking off 15 yards for holding.
An incompletion later, it was fourth-and-12 from the FSU 44.
Fresh hope arrived with a 23-yard completion to John Noonan, and seconds later, sophomore I-back Roger Craig shook loose down to the 3 on an option pitch. Certainly, it appeared things were working out when guard Joe Adams recovered Craig’s fumble.
“Everybody was real calm in the huddle,” Quinn was to say later. “We thought we’d do it. We came so close.”
With 17 seconds left, second down on the 3, Osborne called for a quick out pass to split end Todd Brown, who had given the Huskers a 14-0 first-half lead with two touchdown receptions.
Quinn rolled left, but Brown had been jammed at the line. Quinn looked for wingback Tim McCrady in the seam. Then he ran.
As Quinn raised his arm to throw the ball away to stop the clock, he was drilled by linebacker Paul Piurowski, and Fulch recovered the fumble back at the 10.
The multiple split-second decisions, Quinn said, “are something we have to do every day. I just didn’t make them quick enough. It would be nice to have it (the final play) back. I blew a chance in a million, I guess. It’s going to stick in my mind a long time,” Quinn said.
Osborne said, “If it wasn’t for the holding penalty, we would have been in the end zone.”
If it hadn’t been for three consecutive turnovers in the third quarter, the Huskers wouldn’t have needed the last chance.
A fumbled snap by punter Scott Gernar led to a Capece field goal that cut the early lead to 14-6. A second interception off Quinn, his first two of the season, set up the lone Seminole touchdown by Sam Platt, making it 14-12 and a Redwine fumble preceded Capece’s go-ahead field goal at 15-14.
Nebraska had dominated through the 14-3 first half while building a 208-46 yardage edge. A fierce rush that resulted in eight tackles for 58 yards in losses left the Seminoles with minus 11 yards rushing at the break.
But Florida State turned to a rollout game to neutralize the rush and quarterback Rick Stockstill effectively dumped the ball off to his backs the second half.
Although the nation’s No. 1 offense was frustrated through most of the second half, Nebraska still finished with a 368-166 edge in total offense. Redwine, the national rushing leader, surpassed 100 yards for the fourth week, hitting 145 on 25 carries. Florida State was limited to 12 yards on 40 rushes.
"Unfortunately, the winner is on the scoreboard,” Nebraska Defensive Coordinator Lance Van Zandt said.
With four turnovers figuring heavily in the outcome, Osborne said, “We couldn’t overcome the mistakes, but we can’t take anything away from Florida State. They played very well. We felt they would be the best team we’ve played, and they were."
“Particularly in the third quarter, we played terrible on offense. I don’t know if we relaxed or what.”
Quinn completed half of 30 passes for 167 yards and the two touchdowns while Stockstill completed 15 of 25 for 154 yards. The last 40 were the most important.
The Husker defense, which had driven the Seminoles back 28 yards from the Husker 18 on consecutive deficit tackles by Jimmy and Toby Williams and Derrie Nelson in the second quarter, forced a third-and-13 situation at the FSU 28 with 4:40 remaining.
Stockstill passed deep down the right sideline to Phil Williams, who was double-covered by Russell Gary and Ric Lindquist. Williams retreated for the underthrown ball and made the catch to keep alive the drive to Capece’s final 41-yard field goal.
“The defense played very well,” Osborne said. “They were fired up at first, but they got a little tired. That’s why controlling the ball is so important. The defense had to play too much.”
With the defense finished for the day, end Jimmy Williams said of the offense’s final bid: “The best you can do is sit and pray.”
Nebraska drove 80 yards apiece for its opening touchdowns. Quinn, who completed six of his first eight passes and saw a seventh dropped, triggered the breakthrough drive with completions of 25 yards to Noonan and 22 to McCrady. Then he shot a low pass to Brown, slanting in from the left, for the 8-yard touchdown.
Redwine took over on the second drive in the second quarter, ripping off runs of 30 and 23 yards before Brown stretched out in the end zone for a 12-yard reception.
Capece issued an ominous warning of things to come when he cut the lead to 14-3 before halftime from 32 yards.
The downhill run for Nebraska started when Gemar, facing a 10-man rush, dropped the snap, and Seminole Bobby Butler recovered at the Husker 17 on the first series of the second half. Capece hit from 27 yards.
“It just slipped through my hands. I wasn’t watching them (rushers),” said Gemar, who averaged 44.6 yards on five punts. “Coach (Cletus) Fischer told me to move up a yard to cut down the angle so they couldn’t block it. I just dropped it.”
On Nebraska’s next series, Keith Jones intercepted a Quinn pass to Brown at the Husker 47. Stockstill’s 11-yard pass to Williams preceded Platt’s six-yard touchdown sweep that made it 14-12. The Stockstill-Williams combination, however, failed on a two-point conversion pass.
Florida State took the lead with 1:16 left in the third quarter on a Capece fielder from 40 yards after Redwine lost a fumble to Alphonso Carreker on the Husker 34.
|Yards per carry||0.3||5.2|
Nebraska is 2-6 all-time against Florida State.
|Penn State||Sept. 27|
|Florida State||Oct. 4|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 18|
|Kansas State||Nov. 8|
|Iowa State||Nov. 15|
|Mississippi State||Dec. 27|
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