Originally created 09/15/03

Bowden praises Florida State's defense for victory



TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- With his team down 13-0 deep into the fourth quarter, even Florida State coach Bobby Bowden thought a loss was imminent.

But Bowden was happily proven wrong, as the moribund Seminole offense awakened just in time and beat Georgia Tech 14-13 on Saturday night. Still, Bowden lauded the 10th-ranked Seminoles' defense on Sunday as the biggest factor for the come-from-behind triumph.

"Offenses are fickle. That's why you've got to have great defenses to win," Bowden said. "You win with your defense. They can play good every Saturday."

And his defense was again sterling, even if it did allow its first touchdown of the season. But they turned Tech away in the first half without any points after the Yellow Jackets reached the two with a first down.

Florida State (3-0, 3-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) ranks fifth nationally in scoring defense (7.7 points) and 10th in total defense (244 yards).

Florida State's offense, which is averaging 410 yards a game, finally clicked in the fourth quarter.

"Our offense is like molasses," cornerback Stanford Samuels said. "They're slow, but they come through."

The Seminoles avoided their first home shutout in Bowden's 28 seasons when quarterback Chris Rix scored on a 3-yard run with 7:09 left to pull to within 13-7.

Rix's 5-yard touchdown pass to P.K. Sam, and Xavier Beitia's extra point put Florida State ahead with 2:57 left.

Florida State got yet another scoring opportunity late in the game, but Bowden elected not to try a field goal and went for it on a 4th-and-17 - but Craphonso Thorpe caught Rix's pass with a foot on the sideline, giving Georgia Tech one last chance.

But Pat Watkins' interception in the final minute sealed the win for the Seminoles, and ended Georgia Tech's dreams for a second straight upset - the Yellow Jackets beat Auburn 17-3 in Week 2.

"If this is the No. 10 team in the nation, then we have a chance to be a good football team," Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey said. "The key is to continue to build on this."