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The Kick Is Just Right, Not Wide, as Florida State Beats Miami, 13-10

September 05, 2006|Chris Dufresne | Times Staff Writer

MIAMI — Florida State amassed 36 rushing inches Monday night but leaned on its field-goal unit to beat Miami.

How weird is that?

Defying history and hexes, Florida State kicker Gary Cismesia made a 33-yard field goal with 8 minutes 1 second left to lift the Seminoles to a 13-10 win over Miami at the Orange Bowl.

There was too much time remaining to paint Cismesia's boot as a cathartic moment that washed away all "wide right -- and left" agonies, but any kick against Miami that splits the uprights is cause for celebration in Tallahassee.

"The last four or five times we've played it comes down to field goals, so I was glad to see that we made ours," Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden said.

There were details: Florida State has now won two straight games in the series after losing six in a row, and Bowden recorded his 360th victory. Florida State is 1-0 and Miami 0-1 overall and in the Atlantic Coast Conference race. The schools, in different divisions, still could meet in December in the ACC title game.

And gory details: The game, on a rainy turf, was as strange as they come.

Either the defenses are way ahead of the offenses this time of year or both offensive coordinators need to attend the next Bill Walsh football seminar.

Consider that Miami had twice as many yards rushing as Florida State -- two to one.

These two powerhouse programs, which annually recruit some of the best offensive talent in the country, combined for 310 total yards.

Immovable object meets irresistible force? Maybe. Both defenses tossed termite tents over the opposing offense, put them under quarantine.

"They're evenly matched teams," Miami Coach Larry Coker said. "We have a lot of the same type players. I mean these guys are good."

Florida State, the winning team, totaled nine first downs while Miami had eight, and only one in the second half.

Florida State tailback Lorenzo Booker, a senior out of Ventura St. Bonaventure High, finished with minus-three yards in six carries.

"We were hoping to break one off," quarterback Drew Weatherford said of the running game, "but it never happened."

Fireworks?

Well, no, that was the other summer vacation day -- Fourth of July.

Monday night's game was a slog, providing ample reason to question why the schools, which used to play annual melodramas in October, agreed to move up their game to the Labor Day weekend slot.

The exposure is great; the money is too. But all indications are that Monday's game was the third and last to coincide with the Jerry Lewis Telethon.

The matchup has also lost a little luster, with Monday's being the first one since 1982 in which neither team was ranked in the top 10 of the Associated Press poll.

The game was almost a mirror of last year's error-riddled and offensively challenged affair, a 10-7 win for Bowden's boys.

Miami still might have won this year had it shown any pulse after halftime, but the Hurricanes' second-half drive chart read: punt, punt, punt, punt, punt, interception.

Trailing by three, Miami got the ball back with 4:08 to play but had a drive stall when Sam Shields dropped a third-down pass.

Florida State took over at its 45 but couldn't move the ball 10 yards. The Seminoles faced fourth and two at the Miami 37 with 1:14 left.

You know what Notre Dame Coach Charlie Weis would have done.

A first down would have all but put the game away, yet on this night it actually made more sense at that point to punt the ball back to Miami's offense.

The thinking proved sound.

The Hurricanes got the ball with 1:04 left, at their own 20, but all comeback hopes ended when quarterback Kyle Wright's third-down pass was intercepted by Michael Ray Garvin.

Florida State took over with ticks left and ran out the clock.

Cismesia, who had also connected on a 37-yard field goal in the first quarter to give his team a 3-0 lead, is starting to change the karma for Seminoles kickers.

It was game over for Miami, but not season over.

The Hurricanes recovered from last year's Florida State loss to make it to the Peach Bowl.

"I want to make sure our fans don't give up on this football team," Coker said.

Wright, the quarterback, was already looking forward to an ACC title-game rematch in about three months.

"See them back in Jacksonville," he said.

That should give both schools enough time to upgrade their offenses.

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chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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