Go nuts! FSU wins 2006 Emerald Bowl

Seminoles use big second half to knock off UCLA in San Francisco Wednesday night.

The Seminole offense paved the way for a 44-27 victory over UCLA in the Emerald Bowl Wednesday.

What once seemed to be a stagnant offense, Florida State garnered 430 yards at the hands of quarterback Drew Weatherford and running back Lorenzo Booker.

With a combination of spreading its receivers, lining up Booker in the slot, and executing a hurry-up offense, the Tribe's offense appeared to make up for what it lacked this season: momentum.

"This win gave us a lot of momentum for next year," FSU cornerback Tony Carter said. "Coach Bowden has been through a lot and he did not deserve to have a losing season."

It began to look promising during the first Florida State drive of the game.

After three completed passes, including one to freshman Marcus Sims, Weatherford ran the ball 11 yards for a first down. After what seemed like a scoring drive for the visiting squad, Weatherford threw the ball into the hands of a baby blue jersey, returning it seven yards.

"After the way we moved the ball on the first drive," FSU guard Jacky Claude said, "our offense had confidence and knew the only way we could be stopped is if we stopped ourselves."

Before the offense had its chance to recover, the Seminole defense stepped up, with linebacker Buster Davis recovering a UCLA fumble on the 25-yard line. This play set the stage for Lorenzo Booker's 25 yard touchdown run on the first play of the drive, bringing the score to 7-0.

The California native finished the game with 91 yards rushing and 117 yards receiving, making up nearly half the total offensive yards in the contest.

UCLA answered FSU's scoring drive in less than 45 seconds, tying the game 7-7. After a scoreless drive by the Seminoles, UCLA took the ball to the 29-yard line where the Bruins' Justin Medlock nailed a field goal that brought the score to 10-7 at the end of the first quarter.

Booker led the drive to the 22 yard line, gaining 47 yards. It ended in a field goal by FSU kicker Gary Cismesia, tying the game 10-10.

Cismesia clenched another field goal in the end of the third quarter after UCLA ended two drives with added points: 7 and 3 respectively. The Bruins held the Seminoles at bay, leading by 7 points into halftime.

In the second half, Florida State put up 31 points against the Bruins with equally big plays made by both sides of the ball. "Finally, we just clicked," Weatherford said. "I felt much more comfortable in the second half."

After another kick notched by Cismesia, squelched UCLA's lead to only 4 points, FSU linebacker Dakoda Watson blocked a Bruins punt, which landed in the direction of Lawrence Timmons. Timmons picked it up for a 25-yard touchdown.

"The thing that changes games is blocked punts, big plays," Bowden said. "You take two defensive teams like we have and big plays are going to be game changers sometimes."

After clenching a 23-20 lead, UCLA answered with a touchdown. This was the last time the blue and gold jerseys saw the endzone.

In a steady-paced drive, Weatherford kept the ball moving down the field, utilizing receivers Greg Carr, DeCody Fagg, and Matt Dunam.

It appeared that the Bruins stopped the drive when it came to fourth-and-four and then a FSU holding moved it to fourth-and-nine. The Seminoles went for it, lobbing a 30-yard pass to Carr in the corner of the endzone, giving the Tribe a 30-23 lead. UCLA's cornerback slipped up in the endzone, allowing for the ball to reach Carr.

"We had a little problem with the footing," UCLA head coach Karl Dorrell said. "Not opportunistic for us to fall on fourth down for a touchdown."

Booker notched his second touchdown on a three yard rush, nearing the century mark for rushing in his home state. It was on that drive, too, that he notched the century mark for receiving. The Tribe's defense sealed the deal for its victory in the Industrial City, with an interception returned for a touchdown in the final moments of the game by Carter.

"I just took a chance out there and it paid off," Carter said. "I was reading the quarterback's eyes the whole way. It came right to me and then I just had to take off."

FSU wrapped up its season with a winning record 7-6, giving the squad a better reason t look forward to its next season.

"I think it'll (the win) mean a whole lot cause we lost a bowl last year," Bowden said. "It will give us great enthusiasm and confidence going into the next season."

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