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Clemson & FSU Stories

Clemson & FSU Stories

by Sam Blackman

An Early Tie between Clemson and Florida State

The Clemson and Florida State series isn’t as old as some of the others in the ACC, but there is a relationship between the two schools dating back to the 1940s. There was a gentleman who played for Clemson in the 1930s named Thomas Erwin Brown. He was from Cross City, Florida and he came to Clemson and was a talented athlete. He was a big lineman that played offensive and defensive tackle for Clemson, and he also played basketball for the Tigers.

He had a great career at Tigertown in 1933-1935, as he was named All-South, which was a big honor and recognition for him. After graduating from Clemson, He coached football at Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, NC. He eventually coached at Leon High School in Tallahassee in 1944-1949.

In 1950, he entered private business plus building an apartment complex near the Florida State University campus. During this time he was called on to be Florida State’s football radio announcer. He was probably Florida State’s first person to call play-by-play action for the Seminoles.

He was a former Leon County Commission for 14 years and was first appointed to the commission in December 1958 by then Governor LeRoy Collins.   Brown, according to the Tallahassee Democrat was a patient and soft-spoken advocate for government without extravagance, believing that government could practice conservative economy in its programs without discouraging progress.

Brown was very active in the Tallahassee community. He was a past president of the Kiwanis Club, a past director of the Tallahassee Quarterback Club and Seminole Booster Club, and also was a former chairman of the March of Dimes.   He consolidated city and county governments and oversaw expansion of the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital, improved roads, and oversaw the addition and enlargement of the courthouse.   He also was in charge of acquisition of federally owned land for Leon County and encouraged the growth of the Leon County Public Library.  

He also served the community by coaching Babe Ruth baseball teams.

Eventually, a 255-acre park was being built and the city of Tallahassee named it the Tom Brown Park. It still serves the city of Tallahassee and the surrounding area. It’s interesting that a Clemson gentleman, served the Tallahassee community so well and had a large municipal park named for him.  

Brown died on August 14, 1973 from leukemia at the age of 58.

One for the Books

A classic Clemson football victory occurred 28 years ago when Clemson defeated 16th-ranked Florida State 34-23 in Tallahassee, FL on September 9, 1989.  

The previous season, Florida State defeated the Tigers in Death Valley thanks to the infamous “puntrooski” play The Tigers had great performances on both sides of the ball in this ESPN nationally- televised game.  

Clemson outplayed the Seminoles as former Bobby Bowden concurred in the post game press conference.    “This was just a good whippin’,” said then Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden.   I believe they’re better then last year.   They looked like they came out with a year of frustration behind them.   I think they’d heard enough about the “puntrooski”. “Everytime we would stop the bleeding and climb back in it, Clemson would make a big play and take the momentum back.  They played great.  I’m very impressed with them.   I’m amazed that we couldn’t stop them better,” said Bowden.

Clemson exploded offensively in the first half and took a 21-0 lead in front of a stunned Florida State crowd.   Tailback Terry Allen scored on a pair of one-yard runs on Clemson’s first possessions of the first and second periods. Clemson’s linebacker Wayne Simmons came through with a 73-yard interception return for touchdown in the second quarter, the second longest interception return in Clemson history by a linebacker.   Jimmy Quarles had a 90 yarder against Rice in 1951.

After a Florida State touchdown, Terry Allen showed his impressive speed and went 73 yards for a score just 1:16 before halftime to give Clemson a 28-7 lead. It was the first time Florida State had given up 28 points in a half since the 1985 Florida game. Chris Gardocki put the game out of reach with a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter.   Gardocki hit a 29 yarder and a 26 yarder in the first 5:51 of the last quarter. Clemson controlled the clock much of the second half behind the ball handling expertise and passing proficiency of quarterback Chris Morocco.   The native of Athens, GA hit 8-9 passes for the evening for 134 yards.    Clemson averaged 7.1 yards a play for the night.   

Offensive tackle Stacy Long was a key for the Tigers as he had a 10-knockdown block performance against All-American Odell Haggins and the Seminole front four.  Haggins is currently an Associate Head Coach for the Seminoles and has been at Florida State for nearly 25 years.  

Defensively, linebacker Doug Brewster was the top tackler with 12 stops, but a pair of Clearwater, FL natives also made great contributions in their home state.   Safety Arlington Nunn had nine stops, while linebacker Vince Taylor contributed eight tackles.   Simmons had a sack and six tackles to go along with his 73-yard interception return for a touchdown.   The Clemson defense held Florida State to 106 yards rushing.   FSU scored a touchdown with just five seconds remaining in the game to bring the final margin of victory to 11 points.  

The victory over the 16th-ranked Seminoles gave Danny Ford a 6-0 record in the state of Florida, including 5-0 in bowl games.   It broke a 10-game Florida State home winning streak.    Clemson running back Terry Allen rushed the ball 20 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns.    He was named ACC Player of the Week for his stellar performance.  Joe Henderson had seven carries for 63 yards.   Rodney Fletcher led the Tigers in receiving with four catches for 92 yards.    

Former Clemson Head Coach Danny Ford praised his team for their performance and credited the poise of the Tigers for the win.    “I’m very proud of you for the game you played,” Clemson Head Coach Danny Ford told his players in the locker room after the convincing Tiger win.  “You came into a very hostile place and I couldn’t have asked any better of you.   The third quarter was a little shaky, but we came back and got a score of our own.   You all did what you had to do, and that is the mark of a great team against some pretty big odds.”   

Coach Ford had this to say to the media:  “We were able to put some heat on the quarterback in the second half.   They’re a tremendous offensive football team and they kept me scared to death the entire game.   We had to have some people play better than they are able to and to have some others whip some people, and we did a pretty good job of accomplishing that,” said Ford.   

Clemson went from this early victory over the Seminoles to finish with a 10-2 record overall.   Florida State finished the year with an identical 10-2 record and a second-place finish in the final poll.    The Tigers were the first ACC team to win at least 10 games for three straight seasons, and the Tigers defeated South Carolina 45-0 in the regular season finale.   Clemson won the Gator Bowl with a convincing 27-7 victory over West Virginia and All-American Major Harris.   The Tigers finished fifth in the nation in total defense and produced two All-Americans, offensive tackle Stacy Long and place kicker Chris Gardocki.  The Tigers were ranked 11th in the final poll.