..."He's gotta get the first down to stop the clock. He didn't get it! The clock is going to continue to run with ten seconds left...He's gotta stop this baby. Line up and down it, he's gotta down it, it's gonna run out on him...No. Didn't do it. This game is over. A 31-31 tie...a 31-31- tie..."—Brent Musberger, calling the legendary "Choke at the Doak, November 26th, 1994.
In those quick ten seconds—the image, and reputation, of a football rivalry would become legendary. The momentous comeback in Tallahassee would symbolize the ebb and flow of two powerhouses who have been for the better part of 25 years, a household recognized slugfest.
So much can be discussed about the outcome—Spurrier going to prevent, and zone too soon, FSU not burning a timeout, Florida passing in the fourth quarter. The fact is, never in the history of the game has there been such an exciting tipping of the scales, and never, has it meant so much to both teams.
For Florida State fans, the game would be a bloodbath that would scar hearts and minds for three quarters. The eventual outcome would be missed, perhaps by many, who simply turned off their television sets that day.
Dan Mowrey, would score the only recorded points for the Seminoles, for nearly 45 and 1/2 minutes. The only time Florida State led the game was in the first five minutes, on that solitary 35 yard field goal, to take a 3-0 lead.
From that point on it was all Florida. Wuerffel to Hill for 58 yards, touchdown. Wuerffel for three yards to Jackson, touchdown. Davis, field goal. Wuerffel to Jackson for 28 yards, touchdown. Wuerffel on the keeper for 1 yard, touchdown. 31-3...
Then it happened. With Spurrier's defense seemingly needing to only keep FSU off the field, and keep the clock winding down, the Gators switched to a prevent defense that spread the field for FSU to open up it's ground attack, and get some pressure inside and over the middle.
Suddenly, late in the third, FSU was moving the ball. Just before the clock hit zero, Danny Kannell and company found themselves finally looking at a red zone opportunity. With the start of the fourth quarter, FSU would waste no time, and would score on a five yard scamper by Zack Crockett.
Less than two minutes later the 'Noles would regain possession after forcing the Gators on three-and-out, and would move the ball again, by using the middle of the field with quick drop passes to Dunn, and sideline threats like Andre Cooper, and 'Omar Ellison. Kanell would hit Andre Cooper in the corner of the end zone for six yards and the score, closing the gap to 31-17, Florida.
Again, Florida would be held to three-and-out, and would punt. On a dangerous botched snap, Florida managed to avoid the block, and FSU setup on their own 30. After several passes utilizing an open middle of the field, Kanell and company managed to drive the ball for 70 yards to setup a fake to Dunn for the QB keeper that put the score at 24-31 in favor of Florida, with just over five minutes to play.
To this point, while momentum seemed to be fleeing, Florida was still in control of the tempo. With a poised Wuerffel in the pocket, the plays simply needed to be up and down, and capable of keeping the ball away from the very hot handed Danny Kanell. Unfortunately, just two plays later, the Seminoles made him pay. James Colzie intercepted an errant pass by Wuerffel that put FSU in excellent field position for a possible tying score.
After a huge toss and catch to Warrick Dunn down the sideline, FSU setup shop at the 30. Just four plays later, tailback Rock Preston scampered into the end zone from four yards out to knot the game at 31-31.
What most people forget is that Wuerffel and company again failed to convert for a first down with a little over a minute to play, giving the ball back to FSU on downs. Kanell on his first pass hit Kez McCorvey for a 23 yard completion to the Seminole 48. On the next play Kanell was flushed out of the pocket for a scamper of about nine yards down the field that would be just shy of enough needed to stop the clock. With time winding down, FSU would not get a measurement, and could not stop the clock in time.
To this day, this game is remembered for not only being one of the greatest comebacks in college football, but also one of the most memorable games in the rivalry of two of the most storied programs of our generation.
So before deciding not to tune into the Florida-Florida State contest this weekend, take a minute to remember why this rivalry is so great. Nothing is ever a sure thing, and there is never an anti-climactic moment, when it involves the men in Orange and Blue versus the Garnet and Gold.