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Second-Ranked Seminoles ACCosted by Virginia, 33-28

November 03, 1995|From Associated Press

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. — After losing twice on the final play this season, Virginia nearly saw it happen again Thursday night. But this time, the Cavaliers came up with the game-saving play and shocked second-ranked Florida State.

Tiki Barber had 311 all-purpose yards and scored two touchdowns Thursday night and the Cavaliers stopped second-ranked Florida State inches from the goal line on the final play for a 33-28 victory that snapped the Seminoles' 29-game winning streak in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

"The national championship thing sorts itself out. Tonight, it sorted us out," Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden said.

Barber, a junior tailback, rushed for 193 yards in 31 carries and caught three passes for 45 yards. He also returned six punts for 73 yards.

"We earned their respect," Barber said. "We came out and dominated for four quarters, and that's what we had to do."

The loss, Florida State's first to an ACC team since joining the league in 1992, probably ended the Seminoles' bid for a national championship.

The Seminoles (7-1, 5-1) had won their first 29 ACC games by an average margin of 33 points and had beaten their first five league foes this season by an average of 43 points.

"We don't lose often," Bowden said. "It's part of life. Nothing lasts forever."

Virginia (7-3, 6-1) played an inspired game against explosive Florida State, which was leading the nation with 56 points and 600 yards per game.

After building a 27-21 halftime lead, the Cavaliers shut out the Seminoles for most of the second half and got two field goals from Rafael Garcia, who had four in the game.

Florida State pulled to 33-28 on Warrick Dunn's seven-yard touchdown run with 6:13 left in the game, and drove to the Virginia six-yard line in the final seconds. But Dunn was stopped inches from the end zone by Anthony Poindexter and Adrian Burnim as time ran out, setting off a wild celebration at Scott Stadium that ended with both goal posts torn down.

"I thought we were going to lose it," said Virginia Coach George Welsh, whose team lost to Michigan and Texas on the last play. "I thought, 'Oh my God, here we go again.' "

This time, however, it was Virginia that made the big play in the closing seconds.

Florida State started the final drive on its own 20 with 1:37 remaining and quickly marched down the field. After reaching the Virginia six, the Seminoles snapped the ball directly to Dunn, who was hit short of the goal by Poindexter and finished off by Burnim.

"I was saying to myself, 'I can't watch it happen again.' And it didn't. God was on our side this time," Barber said.

The Florida State loss scrambled the major bowl picture. Had the Seminoles beaten Virginia and gone undefeated, they probably would have played No. 1 Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl for the national title.

Now, the only way the Fiesta will get two undefeated teams is if Nebraska and third-ranked Florida win out. Florida plays Florida State at Gainesville on Nov. 25.

Virginia and Florida State have one loss each in the ACC. If they tie for the conference championship, the league's berth in the Fiesta-Sugar-Orange alliance would probably go to the higher-ranked team.

Florida State's Danny Kanell completed 32 of 67 passes for 454 yards and three touchdowns, but he was only 10 of 29 for 134 yards and no touchdowns in the second half. He also had three passes intercepted after throwing only six in his first seven games.

"I put a lot of the blame on myself," said Kanell, who had completed 73% of his passes before the game. "Our offense is throw and catch, and I wasn't throwing."

Virginia's Mike Groh was 19 of 37 for 302 yards and two touchdowns. He also threw three interceptions.

Barber ran for 111 yards and scored two touchdowns in the first half as Virginia took a 27-21 lead--only the second time in 30 ACC games that Florida State trailed at halftime. The Seminoles trailed Maryland, 20-17, last year before storming back to win, 52-20.

In the first half, Kanell threw touchdown passes of 35 yards to Phillip Riley, 14 yards to Dunn and 38 yards to E.G. Green. The scores gave Kanell 28 scoring passes this season and 53 in his career, both school records.

But Virginia controlled the half despite three costly turnovers. Barber's fumble and James Colzie's interception led to Florida State touchdowns, and Byron Capers' goal-line interception stopped a Virginia scoring threat near the end of the first half.

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