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Clemson Falls Just Short Of Big Upset Over Big Bowden

Oct. 23, 1999

Box Score


CLEMSON, S.C. – His son put a mighty scare into his No. 1 team, but Bobby Bowden sneaked away with career win No. 300.

Florida State rallied for a 17-14 victory over Clemson on Saturday night in major college football’s first father vs. son coaching matchup.

With star receiver Peter Warrick back in the lineup after his legal case was favorably resolved on Friday, the Seminoles were more lucky than good in beating Tommy Bowden’s Tigers (3-4, 3-2 ACC) before a record crowd of 86,200 at Memorial Stadium.

Warrick caught 11 passes for 121 yards, and Sebastian Janikowksi’s third field goal – a 39-yarder with 5:26 left – broke a 14-all tie and kept Florida State (8-0, 6-0) alive in its drive for the national championship.

Clemson’s bid to send the game into overtime ended when Tony Lazzara’s 42-yard field goal attempt fell short with 1:57 left in the game.

The victory allowed Bobby Bowden to join Bear Bryant, Pop Warner, Amos Alonzo Stagg and Joe Paterno as the only major college coaches to reach 300 victories.

When the game ended, Bobby Bowden was hugged by several of his players, then was lifted up on their shoulders as the group made their way to midfield to meet Tommy Bowden.

At the center of the field, father and son were pressed together by a horde of photographers. They spoke briefly before going before a national TV audience.

“This is what Ann wanted, not me,” Bobby Bowden said, referring to his wife, Ann, who said she’d prefer her husband to win in a close game.

Then, Bobby told his son: “You ran out of tricks.”

On a day of upsets – No. 3 Nebraska and No. 9 Michigan lost – the Seminoles came back from a 14-3 halftime deficit.

Janikowksi’s second 33-yard field goal of the game cut the margin to 14-6 early in the third quarter. The Seminoles pulled even on Travis Minor’s 1-yard touchdown run and Chris Wenke’s 2-point conversion pass to Dan Kendra with 10 seconds left in the third quarter.

In the final 15 minutes, the defenses took over, but Florida State managed to put together a drive that saved its season. Weinke, who was 24-of-49 for 258 yards, hit Ron Dugans for gains of 7, 7, and 22 yards to set up Janikowski’s game-winner.

Janikowski, who missed two earlier field goals, boomed his game-winner much to the chagrin of the orange pon-pon waving Tiger fans.

Many of the Bowden clan were at the game, including a dozen or so grandkids, and they saw father and son go at each other with a vengeance. The Tigers were called for three personal fouls, the Seminoles nearly knocked Clemson quarterback Woody Dantzler out of the game, and there were penalties galore.

And, of course, there were a few trick plays. Tommy ordered a fake punt that kept alive a drive that resulted in a touchdown. In the final quarter, it was a dipsy-doodle Dantzler to Travis Zachery to Rod Gardner, who completed a 14-yard pass to Dantzler that went to the Florida Sate 44. It set the stage for a potential game-tying field goal, but Lazzara was well short in his attempt.

The 69-year-old Bowden, who began his coaching career at Samford in 1959, never thought he’d be at this head coaching stuff so long. But when he arrived at Florida State in 1976 after six years at West Virginia, he found a home – and built an empire.

He turned around a program that had considered dropping football into one of the most formidable in the country, especially over the past dozen years. Bowden’s Seminoles have finished in the top four of the AP poll and won at least 10 games in every since since 1987, capturing its lone national championship in 1993.

Bowden, with his folksy charm and honesty that has parents of high school stars lining up to sign on with Florida State, has won 227 games at Florida State, and his Seminoles are 105-13-1 in the 1990s – the most wins in any decade by a major college team.

This latest one, though, may have been his toughest.