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Bowden Bowl Belongs to Clemson This Time

November 09, 2003|From Associated Press

CLEMSON, S.C. — Bobby Bowden searched out his son among Clemson fans, calling "Tommy!, Tommy!" and told him what Tommy's first victory in the Bowden Bowl -- and the Tigers' first win ever over a top-three team -- would mean down the road.

"I told him his job ought to be good for another five days," Bobby said.

"Yeah, that's about right these days," Tommy said, smiling.

The younger Bowden capped a week of rumors and speculation about his job security with a 26-10 victory over his father and No. 3-ranked Florida State on Saturday night.

And while Bobby chastised the Seminoles (8-2, 6-1 Atlantic Coast Conference) for their poor play and foolish mistakes, he saved his strongest comments for those who want to fire his son.

"I'd like to see Tommy succeed here and, if he doesn't, I think he'll succeed somewhere else," said Bowden, major college football's all-time victories leader with 340. "I think he's got the stuff."

Tommy was four games ahead of Bobby through 80 games, 52 wins to 48, before Saturday's game. And No. 81 proved that Tommy indeed can out-coach one of the game's best.

"I think people have to be patient," Bobby said.

Patience was in short supply following Clemson's 45-17 loss at Wake Forest the previous week. Most talk centered on how soon Athletic Director Terry Don Phillips should cut Tommy loose. Will this victory change everyone's thinking?

"That's for the president and the administration to decide how big this is for me," Tommy said.

Charlie Whitehurst threw for one touchdown and ran for another to help Clemson (6-4, 4-3) end an 11-game losing streak against the Seminoles.

Aaron Hunt had four field goals and the Tigers held the Seminoles to their fewest points this season and to 11 yards rushing.

Just about everyone expected Bobby -- on his 74th birthday, no less -- to show little mercy as the Seminoles tried to wrap up the conference title and move closer to a championship game.

Chris Rix missed his target on several throws and had a pass intercepted by Tye Hill in the first quarter to end Florida State's only first-half drive inside Clemson territory.

Rix completed 16 of 31 passes for 194 yards and had two passes intercepted.

Whitehurst made the game's biggest plays. A 17-yard pass to Kevin Youngblood led to Hunt's second field goal from 35 yards and a 6-0 Clemson lead.

With 2 minutes 50 seconds to go in the half, Whitehurst led a 65-yard touchdown drive -- 51 yards coming on a pass to Youngblood. Whitehurst capped the drive with a one-yard touchdown run with 15 seconds left that put Clemson ahead, 13-0.

Whitehurst lofted a pass to a wide-open Derrick Hamilton for a 58-yard touchdown that gave Clemson a 23-3 lead late in the third quarter.

Whitehurst presented Tommy Bowden with a game ball.

"I'm just proud of all the guys," said Whitehurst, who passed for 272 yards to become the school's career season leader with 2,682 yards.

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