Coming Up Short

Florida State's first-half woes continued Saturday night against the Florida Gators. For the second consecutive week, the Seminoles were held under 100 yards of total offense. But things improved in the second half, and the opportunities came. However, FSU was unable to convert on the momentum, coming up short in the regular-season finale at Doak Campbell Stadium.

The feeling had become all too familiar for Florida State.

Its offense was sputtering.

Two quarters had nearly passed and they had yet to find a rhythm.

There were dropped passes - quarterback Wyatt Sexton hit receiver Chauncey Stovall directly between the numbers on the Seminoles opening drive.

There were long third downs - FSU faced five of 10 yards or more, and couldn't convert.

Running game?

There wasn't one.

Florida State was held without a single rushing yard before halftime.

Running back Leon Washington's numbers were in the red (-4), and Lorenzo Booker had yet to touch the ball out of the backfield. FSU finished the game with 34 yards on the ground.

"From my standpoint, its all on me, we were trying to do sweeps on third down, and I thought we should've ran right at them," Washington said.

"Collectively, as a team, I don't think we did a good job tonight." There were opportunities, though.

With just under four minutes remaining in the half, Florida quarterback Chris Leak scurried forward from a collapsing pocket, losing the ball while he scrambled before scooping it up only to be met head-on by linebacker Ernie Sims. The collisions caused the ball to squirt loose again, and Chauncey Davis quickly smothered the fumble.

The Seminoles were set up 35 yards from the end zone, trailing 10-0. Sexton connected with WR Stovall twice, and once with TE Paul Irons to move FSU to Florida's 3-yard line.

But Sexton missed on his next two passes, and Florida State had to settle for a field goal, narrowing the Gators' lead to seven.

The half came to a close and for the sixth time this season the Seminoles failed to score a touchdown before halftime. Since stomping Virginia 36-3 in Tallahassee, Oct. 16, Florida State had managed just 18 first-half points. It was the second consecutive week the offense was kept under 100 yards.

"We weren't concentrating," Stovall said.

"After halftime things started clicking. No one was yelling, we were still in the game."

Florida State found its grove in the third quarter, amassing enough yards to eclipse the Gators mark. The chances came as well. Florida State orchestrated a pair of drives, in the final half, that put K Gary Cismesia within field goal range. He missed both times, from 32 and 39 yards.

But things could have been worse Saturday night.

Florida had an opportunity to move ahead 17-0 in the second quarter after forcing the Seminoles to punt deep in their own territory.

On the sixth pay of the drive, Leak saw WR Jemalle Cornelius open, 29 yards away, breaking toward the front corner of the end zone. But the pass rush caught Leak as he released the ball, causing it to float, and giving CB Bryant McFadden enough time to gain position on Cornelius and intercept the pass as it crossed the goal line.

"I had an eye on Leak and the receiver, because in their system the quarterback tells you what they are going to do," McFadden said.

"I just had to be patient."

Defense kept the Seminoles in the game.

It was a familiar feeling.

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