TALLAHASSEE, Florida -- The Florida State football team clinched a berth in the first ever ACC Title game on Saturday but it was bitter sweet.
Prior to the matchup with NC State, Boston College was upset by North Carolina, which mathematically eliminated the Eagles from contention. Regardless of how the 'Noles finish off the season, they will represent the Atlantic Division in the December 3rd ACC Championship game in Jacksonville.
However, there wasn't much celebrating going on in Doak Campbell Stadium on Saturday. The 'Noles continued their downward spiral with a 20-15 upset loss to conference nemesis NC State.
"We backed into it and it's not the way we would have liked to do it," center David Castillo said. "With the great league we play in we are fortunate enough to get to get to play for the championship in Jacksonville."
The Wolfpack entered the contest with a 3-4 record and only one conference win but FSU was on its heels right from the start.
On the second play from scrimmage freshman tailback Andre Brown found a big hole at the line and took it 65 yards to put the Pack up 7-0.
The Seminoles entered the game with the top offense in the ACC but couldn't get anything going against an NC State defensive front that finally looked a stout as they were advertised prior to the start of the season.
"That's the best defensive line I've seen, period," quarterback Drew Weatherford said. "Those two defensive ends are really good and caused me to make some ill-advised throws."
Brown, who grew up wanting to play for FSU but never received a scholarship offer, finished the game running for 179 yards and a touchdown on 26 carries for the Wolfpack. On the other side of the ball, the Seminole offense couldn't manage anything on the ground finishing with only 43 yards rushing on 23 attempts. Meanwhile, the passing game was out of sync all day other than a 33-yard touchdown strike from Drew Weatherford to Chris Davis in the second quarter. As a result FSU's passing woes, head coach Bobby Bowden twice changed quarterbacks but his team failed to get in the end zone in the second half.
Despite the offensive struggles, FSU still had a chance after blocked punts by Anthony Houllis and Marcello Church in NC State territory on consecutive possessions late in the game. But Weatherford and backup Xavier Lee were unable to cash in.
After the first blocked punt, Lee could not move the offense but Gary Cismesia kicked a 48-yard field goal to make it 20-13 with 5:41 to play. Weatherford returned after the second blocked punt but tripped over a lineman before getting picked off in the end zone by A.J. Davis with 2:02 left.
Davis ran out and was tackled at the NC State 3-yard line, forcing the Wolfpack to take an intentional safety from punt formation with 53 seconds remaining. The Seminoles got back the ball on their 44, but Chris Davis dropped a pass and Weatherford was sacked before he was intercepted by Garland Heath. The play clinched the game and allowed the Wolfpack to run the clock out.
"All during the year we've been able to put something together that would pull a game out," Bowden said. "We simply could not get anything going tonight that we could hang our hat on."
Weatherford, who was benched early in the fourth quarter for fellow redshirt freshman Lee, returned after two possessions and completed 19-of-38 passes for 181 yards and three interceptions.
"I definitely need to improve," a somber Weatherford said. "I made too many bad decisions tonight."
Lee got the chance to mount a rally in the fourth quarter but was way off the mark. He completed only 1-of-7 for three yards and three of incompletions nearly were picked off.
NC State quarterback Marcus Stone was 9-of-17 for 85 yards and a touchdown. He was just 1-of-7 for eight yards in the first half but settled down thereafter.
Amato also guided NC State to a win here on November 10, 2001. The Wolfpack are the only ACC team to defeat the Seminoles four times since they entered the league in 1992.
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