TEMPE, Ariz. — Florida State quarterback Peter Tom Willis completed 25 of 39 passes for 423 yards and 5 touchdowns Monday to lead a 41-17 victory over Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl.
Willis’ yardage and TD totals were Fiesta Bowl records, breaking the marks FSU quarterback Danny McManus set in the Seminoles’ 31-28 Fiesta Bowl victory over Nebraska two years ago. McManus threw for 375 yards and three touchdowns.
Florida State scored three times in the third quarter to stretch its 21-10 halftime lead to 41-10.
Willis kept a drive alive on fourth and two at the 36 with an 11-yard completion to Terry Anthony, which NU defensive tackle Kent Wells tipped at the line of scrimmage.
Not even a holding penalty at the NU 5 could stop the Seminoles. Willis got it back with a 14-yard pass to Lawrence Dawsey to the 1. Fullback Paul Moore scored from there for 27-10 lead.
Florida State safety John Davis blocked Mike Stigge’s punt on the next series and the Seminoles recovered at the NU 8.
Willis hit tight end Reggie Johnson with a TD pass on the next play for a 34-10 lead.
NU quarterback Gerry Gdowski lost the snap from center on the next drive at the FSU 38. Three plays later, Willis lobbed a 24-yard touchdown pass to Anthony for a 41-10 lead with 2 seconds left in the third quarter.
In the beginning, those looking for action didn’t have to wait long at the start.
The first 18 minutes produced two trick plays, three turnovers, two touchdowns, two missed field goals, one made field goal and a goal-line stand.
Nebraska pulled the first stunner on the opening series.
After gaining 5 yards in three plays, Stigge came in. But the former high school quarterback didn’t punt.
He lofted a 41-yard bomb to reserve wingback Mark Dowse. When FSU was called for roughing the passer, the total gain was 53 yards to the FSU 12.
Two plays later, Gdowski rolled left under heavy but found split end Morgan Gregory with a 9-yard touchdown pass. Gregg Barrios’ conversion kick put the Huskers up 7-0 with 11:19 left in the first quarter.
Florida State responded on the ensuing kickoff with its own trick play.
Shannon Baker fielded the kick, ran to about the 15, then lateraled long across the field to Dawsey, who raced to the FSU 44.
The Seminoles drove to the Nebraska 20 before stalling. Bill Mason tried a 37-yard field goal, but it was low and short.
Nebraska gave the ball back three plays later. Clark swept right for 34 yards. But FSU cornerback Errol McCorvey caused a fumble at the end of the run and recovered it at the Seminole 38.
Florida State, with the help of Dexter Carter’s 34-yard run, eventually got to the NU 3-yard line on second down. Two plays lost a yard, setting up a fourth-and-two at the 4.
That’s where Wells shot through to dump Moore a football-length short of the first down and preserve NU’s 7-0 lead.
The next possession produced Gdowski’s first interception in 95 throws, stretching back to the Big Eight opener against Kansas State.
He handed the ball to Clark, who handed it back. Gdowski tried to hit Gregory, who tipped the pass up, allowing linebacker Kevin Grant to pick it off and run it back to the NU 18.
But FSU failed to score again after losing 5 yards in three plays. Rich Andrews tried a 39-yard field goal that was wide left on the first play of the second quarter.
But that was about all Florida State did wrong in the second quarter as Willis caught fire.
The Seminole defense got him the ball by blitzing Gdowski and forcing a fumble that nose guard Odell Haggins recovered at the NU 31.
Two plays later, Willis drilled a 14-yard scoring strike to Anthony. Andrews’ PAT kick tied the game at 7 with 13:42 left in the half.
Nebraska used the kicking game to set up another score.
Tyrone Hughes’ 62-yard kickoff return — plus 15 yards for a late hit — set the Huskers up at the FSU 15. But they had to settle for Chris Drennan’s 39-yard field goal three plays later for a 10-7 lead with 12:15 to go in the half.
On the next series, FSU gambled on a fourth-and-one at the NU 39 by throwing to the end zone incomplete. Nebraska earned one first down to give Drennan a crack at a 49-yard field goal. But it drifted wide right.
Back came Willis.
He fired a 19-yarder to Dawsey, a 44-yard jump ball floater that Baker pulled in, then a 5-yarder for a touchdown to Johnson and a 14-10 lead with 6:55 left in the half.
With the Nebraska defense struggling, the officials tried to help. Three consecutive holding penalties stuck the Seminoles in a first-and-40 hole at their 35.
But Willis’ 30-yard bolt to fullback Edgar Bennett wiped out the penalties. Three plays later, he threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to Carter for a 21-10 lead with 24 seconds left in the half.
|Yards per carry||3.0||2.5|
Nebraska is 2-6 all-time against Florida State.
|Northern Illinois||Sept. 9|
|Oregon State||Sept. 30|
|Kansas State||Oct. 7|
|Oklahoma State||Oct. 21|
|Iowa State||Oct. 28|
|Florida State||Jan. 1|
Nebraska has played 27 games on Jan. 1. See them all »
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