Nov. 8, 2008
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) – Christian Ponder threw for a touchdown and ran for another Saturday and Antone Smith ran for two scores as No. 24 Florida State defeated Clemson 41-27 Saturday on coach Bobby Bowden’s 79th birthday.
Clemson (4-5, 2-4 Atlantic Coast Conference) had won the last three games in the series. Interim Clemson coach Dabo Swinney is 1-2 since taking over.
Florida State (7-2, 4-2) overcame an early 10-0 deficit to lead 20-17 at halftime after both teams converted turnovers into touchdowns.
It was the fourth straight week the Seminoles have spotted an opponent at least 10 points–rallying for wins in three of those, losing the other on a last-minute fumble.
The win makes Florida State bowl eligible for the 27th consecutive season– now the longest streak in the country–and keeps them tied with Wake Forest for first place in the ACC’s Atlantic Division.
Clemson started fast with Cullen Harper to finish off a quick 80-yard opening drive. The Tigers went ahead 10-0 five minutes later Mark Buchholz’s 41-yard field goal.
Harper threw for 240 yards and two touchdowns, but it was his costly interception that got Florida State started.
Defensive end Neefy Moffett scored on an 18-yard interception of an ill-advised throw by Harper to get the Seminoles a 10-10 tie, a minute and 40 seconds after Florida State’s Graham Gano stretched his school mark to 16 straight field goals with a 52-yard kick.
After Gano put Florida State up 13-10 with his 17th consecutive made field goal, this from 37 yards, Clemson took its last lead at 17-13 on Harper’s 8-yard touchdown pass to Michael Palmer. The Tigers were set up when they recovered a fumbled punt by Florida State’s Tony Carter at the Seminoles 9.
Ponder’s 1-yard TD run put Florida State the lead for keeps at 20-17 with 1:25 left in the half and he hit Corey Surrency on a 14-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the second half as the Seminoles stretched their advantage to 27-17.
Smith scored his 12th and 13th rushing touchdowns of the season on runs of 1 and 41 yards in the fourth quarter around Spiller’s 2-yard TD that got Clemson to within a touchdown with 2:20 left.
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