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September 16, 2007Dominating defense and dynamic special teams lifted Florida State to a 16-6, non-conference victory Saturday night at Colorado.
The Seminoles nearly pitched a shutout -- it would have been the first for the Buffaloes in two decades -- but Colorado was able to put together a late drive against Florida State's prevent defense and score on a fourth-down play with 3:39 remaining.
Losing the shutout and watching his offense struggle yet again took some of the luster off the victory for head coach Bobby Bowden, but he was more than pleased to return home with a 2-1 record.
"You can't downplay the win," Bowden said. "We got the win. That's what we came up here for."
The victory gave the Seminoles consecutive victories for the first time since they beat Miami and Troy to open the 2006 season.
With defensive coordinator Mickey Andrews watching from the coaches' box, while he recovers from pneumonia, Florida State delivered its most impressive defensive performance of the season. The Seminoles limited Colorado to 279 yards of total offense -- 306 passing and negative-27 rushing. And a great many of quarterback Cody Hawkins' passing yards came after the game was out of reach.
FSU's secondary also recorded its first two interceptions of the season -- both by junior cornerback Tony Carter to end Colorado scoring threats. Carter credited Florida State's pass rush with contributing to his big plays.
"That's what we look for," Carter said. "Putting pressure on quarterbacks, and eventually, they don't want to take the hits, so they throw it before they're ready. All week, we were preaching, 'Turnovers, turnovers, turnovers.' It paid off."
The defense came through at the right time considering the Seminoles' offense against seemed to struggle with execution. After Antone Smith busted loose for a 36-yard touchdown run early in the second quarter, Florida State could only muster three field goals the rest of the game.
Florida State was limited to 126 yards passing, and 221 yards of total offense.
"We made a lot of mistakes," Smith said. "That's what is preventing us from making big plays."
FSU coach Bobby Bowden said he was disturbed by the offensive struggles against a Colorado team that had allowed 61 points in its first two games. Settling for three field goals was particularly troublesome.
"We went backwards," Bowden said. "We've got to take a good look at what's happening. After we got that 16-0 lead, it seemed like we just folded it up for the night offensively."
FSU received a tremendous lift from its special teams -- punter Graham Gano averaged 46.8 yards on eight punts, and Preston Parker returned six punts for 84 yards.
Place-kicker Gary Cismesia also was good on all three of his field-goal attempts.
"They missed two field goals, and we made three," Bowden said. "That's probably the difference in the ballgame. Our kicking game is a big reason we won."
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