Last Stand

While Florida was unable to defend Florida State's game-winning touchdown pass Saturday, the Seminoles also had to contend with one final play that would have determined the outcome. And, when UF quarterback <b>Chris Leak</b> tucked the football and headed up field, FSU‘s defense answered to secure the emotional 38-34 victory at The Swamp.

"To be honest with you, I breathed more of a sigh of relief when he started running," said Seminoles safety Pat Watkins, on the field for that last play.

"A lot of stuff can happen when you toss up the ball, people can tip around and somebody can catch. I figured we had a better chance if we kept it in his hands and try to do the pitch-back thing everybody tries to do."

Faced with fourth-and-7 from the 50-yard line and one second remaining, Leak, forced from the pocket and rolling to his left, sprinted for 32 yards before being shoved out of bounds. The Seminoles were in deep zone coverage, protecting against a "Hail Mary" pass.

"It caught me by surprise," Watkins said of Leak's decision to run.

"I would rather take a chance with him running the ball than with him throwing because he's a great passer. I had no doubt in my mind that he could have easily put that ball in the end zone and somebody could have jumped up and grabbed it. Our coaches were telling us to hold nothing back, that if we get the chance, knock the ball down. No interceptions and make sure nobody gets behind you."

Of course, UF was stunned by that same scenario less than a minute earlier, when FSU quarterback Chris Rix fired a 52-yard completion to P.K. Sam for the winning score.

Sam got behind UF safety Guss Scott, who turned too late to try to deflect Rix‘s pass. As Scott waved helplessly at the ball, it landed in Sam's arms in the back of the end zone. Two plays earlier, Sam also got behind Scott on the same route but Rix overthrew his intended receiver down the middle of the field.

"I was," FSU cornerback Stanford Samuels said when asked if he was surprised UF was unable to defend the long completion," especially he has just gotten beat on that same route. (For us it was the) right call. Right defense. Thank you. But everyone on the field feels like they can make that play. He (Scott) didn't know the ball was there until the last second."

Like Watkins, Samuels, who also was on the field for Leak's run on the game's final play, said he was glad to see the freshman quarterback head up field.

What was Samuels thinking?

"Game over. Game is over," Samuels said.

With the win, coupled by Miami's victory against Pittsburgh to secure the Big East Conference title, the Seminoles moved closer to a possible first- time trip to the Rose Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl. The Orange Bowl has indicated it will take the hometown Hurricanes to pare against either Ohio State or an SEC runner-up.

That would send FSU west, to either the Rose or Fiesta Bowl. The Seminoles' preference is the Rose for a matchup against Michigan -- that is if Southern California, the Pac-10 champion, wins its final game against Oregon State Saturday and advances to the national title Sugar Bowl.

. The Rose would be choosing between the SEC champ (LSU or Georgia) or FSU as its at-large pick. Speculation has the Fiesta Bowl, meanwhile, pairing Texas versus either FSU or the SEC champ.

"If it did (happen), it would be an amazing thing," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.

"Florida State has never played in the Rose Bowl. Of course, when you're in the twilight of your career like I am, how many shots are you going to get at something like that? "It's really a wonderful problem to have when you start thinking about going to either the Rose Bowl or the Fiesta Bowl."

Samuels, meanwhile, simply wanted to relax Sunday.

"It's nice being in a BCS bowl period," Samuels said.

"It's also nice coming off a Florida win."

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