Hanging Tough

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. - The knock on former Florida State starting quarterback Chris Rix is straightforward: the mistake-prone senior's poor constant turnovers were taxing to his defense and gave opponents easy chances to score points.

Replacement Wyatt Sexton, near watertight in four starts since Rix went down with an ankle injury, showed shades of the former in Saturday's 20-17 close call at Wake Forest.

A change was in the making. His defense bailed him out.

"I let my offensive staff talk me out of it," said FSU coach Bobby Bowden who wanted to go with Rix to start the second half.

"But [Sexton] hung in there and we were able to get some things going."

While the defense held the fort in the first half, the Seminoles' offense – thanks to a pair of turnovers from Sexton – staked the Demon Deacons to a 14-3 lead. An interception return and a fumble return gave Wake a pair of scores, bailing out their offense that couldn't get anything going behind quarterbacks Ben Mauk and Cory Randolph.

In the second, the Seminole D forced four of Wake's six three-and-outs before the offense finally crawled back to rally for the win.

But there was no finger-pointing.

"Sure it's frustrating," linebacker A.J. Nicholson said. "But football is a team sport. We understand that there are going to be games like this."

The Seminoles surrendered 270 yards on the evening and just a field goal. But those three points could as be placed on the shoulders of the offense – another Sexton interception set up the Deacon drive at the FSU 30.

"This is our job," linebacker Buster Davis said. "We're supposed to keep the ‘O' in the game until they can get it going."

And after nearly 40 minutes, they finally did. A self-redeeming touchdown strike from Sexton to Dominic Robinson and a late field goal provided just enough octane for the defense to finish the game.

"Our defense enabled us to win that game," Bowden said. "We were struggling."

Though FSU gave up an uncharacteristic 133 yards rushing, just 58 game from tailback Chris Barclay, the Atlantic Coast Conference's active career rushing leader. Randolph added 60 more, most coming on late scrambles when pass plays broke down.

The Seminoles also added three sacks and eight tackles for loss.


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