Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Noles hang on for 3-point win over Miami

It wasn't easy and it wasn't pretty, but FSU wins at Miami for 1st time since 1998

The first half was one of the ugliest, wettest, messiest, okay let's say it-most boring- halves of football that a fan could endure.

Both teams looked like it was their first game of the season-oh right, it was- and both teams look like they have a lot of kinks to work out, at least on offense.
The Noles struck first with a 37-yd field goal by Cismesia just 8 minutes into the game; might it be an offensive show in the mud of Miami? Unfortunately the answer was a resounding "no", as the two teams then traded pointless drives until The Canes capitalized on a stupid Nole personal foul penalty that kept Miami's drive alive and resulted in a 4 yd TD run by Charlie Jones. When Miami added a 20-yd FG by Countryside's Jon Peattie with under 4 to go till the half, the Noles were on the verge of being embarrassed: they managed only 1 yard rushing and 43 total yards in the half.

But whatever Bobby and the rest of the coaches said to the players at halftime, it worked, because FSU played like a team possessed in the second half. Late in the 3rd Q they marched down the field behind a poised and confident looking Drew Weatherford, who despite having mediocre numbers (16-32,175yds, 1 INT) played like a seasoned field general when it came to crunch time. He directed a game-tying drive that was highlighted by a 28-yd reception by De'Cody Fagg and a momentum-building short catch-long run by Lo' Booker that brought the Noles to the Miami goal line. Minutes later fullback Joe Surratt scored from a yard out, the game was tied at 10 and the pendulum had swung to the FSU sideline.

By now it was the Nole "D" that was hurting the Canes newly retooled offense; through 3 quarters they held the Canes to 1-yd rushing and 17 total yards in the 2nd half. Bruising linebacker Buster Davis had 2 sacks and nearly decapitated Miami QB Kyle Wright on a keeper in the red zone. They also held tight end Greg Olsen to 2 catches for 8 yards after he torched the Noles last year with 8 grabs for 137 yards. The Canes finished the game with a mere 134 yards of offense- a dominating performance from Mickey Andrews' boys.

But as usually is the case with Noles/Canes, it was a tight game that came down to the kicker. With the score tied almost midway thru the 4th, Weatherford marched the team down the field again, the big play a twisting, 18-yd Fagg snag near the sideline that put them in position for a makeable (33-yd) FG. We've all been there before with this rivalry, though, so we all know that even an extra point is no gimme here. As the Nole faithful held their breath, Cismesia lined up the kick in the drizzle and carried the weight of the team on his shoulders. Just don't miss it wide right or left and you're okay he had to be thinking. No pressure.

Cismesia lined it up and let it fly, and wouldn't you know- IT WENT IN!

The Noles took a 3-pt lead and then hung on for dear life for the final 8:00, when CB Michael ray Garvin intercepted a desperate and overmatched Wright to seal the win.

So now the Noles have a mini-winning streak started as well as stopped their Orange Bowl losing streak. Did they look like a National Championship contender? Not with that offense. But if the defense continues to play the way it did, I know this offense will put up some points- they're too talented not to. And with FSU barely leaving the state of Florida this season (2 games in NC, 1 in Maryland) it has a good chance at a New Year's Day bowl and a possible title shot.

Nobody is worrying about that today, though. All Nole fans want to do is bask in the glory of another victory over their archrival, and then get their offense on track by pounding the men of Troy next week at Doak.

Go Noles!

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