Perfect Season Ends With 52-31 Loss To Florida State
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - A little ice and some pain reliever was all Florida State's Chris Rix needed Saturday to take care of Maryland's perfect season.
Rix, dazed after a first quarter hit by Maryland's E.J. Henderson, was on the bench as his Seminoles fell behind the 10th-ranked Terrapins 14-0. But he wasn't going to let a little headache keep him out of an Atlantic Coast Conference slugfest that featured three ties and three lead changes.
"They put some ice on my neck and gave me some Advil," said Rix, who threw five touchdown passes to lead No. 19 Florida State to a 52-31 victory that put the Seminoles right back in the middle of the ACC title hunt. "The pain is gone now, but I know I'll feel it tomorrow."
Rix threw two touchdown passes to Talman Gardner late in the second quarter to help the Seminoles claim a 21-17 halftime lead and then threw three more touchdown passes in the fourth quarter.
"Hopefully I gave people some reasons to believe in me," Rix said.
The Seminoles (5-2, 4-1 ACC) are 74-3 in the league since joining in 1992 and a perfect 39-0 at home. They are 12-0 against Maryland, including 10 victories in ACC play.
The Seminoles can claim at least share of their 10th straight league championship if they win their remaining three conference games. Maryland (7-1, 5-1) and North Carolina, which didn't play Saturday, also have one league loss.
"We're not out of this by any stretch of the imagination," Maryland coach Ralph Friedgen said. "We have to beat Clemson and we have to beat N.C. State and there could be a two-way or a three-way tie."
Maryland tied it at 31 with 1:53 left in the third quarter on quarterback Shaun Hill's 1-yard sneak, but the Terps were no match for the younger, explosive Seminoles in the final quarter.
"With 11 minutes to go, I really think it's anybody's ballgame," Friedgen said. "They made plays when they had to make them."
Rix teamed with Gardner, who finished with six catches for 140 yards and three scores, Javon Walker and Atrews Bell for the decisive fourth-quarter touchdowns.
"You get close to a real good team and you want to win so bad it hurts," Friedgen said. "When you don't get it done, it's really irritating. ... We played hard, we just didn't play smart. That's the story of the game."
Florida State scored its points in bunches, getting 21 second-quarter points in less than 3 minutes and putting up 21 more in just over 5 minutes in the final period.
A redshirt freshman who was under scrutiny by Florida State coaches after a rash of interceptions in recent games, Rix completed 15 of 24 passes for 350 yards as he brought the Seminoles back.
But then Rix started throwing darts to his wideouts, combining twice for touchdowns with Gardner on plays covering 16 and 9 yards around Michael Boulware's 23-yard interception return that catapulted the Seminoles into a 21-14 advantage in a span of just 2 minutes and 57 seconds.
It was Boulware's second touchdown this season with a turnover.
Rix, who was out of the game briefly while doctors made sure he wasn't seriously hurt, re-entered the game midway through the second quarter and completed six straight passes for 123 yards on two scoring drives.
Adrian McPherson, who coaches wanted to get more playing time, was ineffective running the team during Rix's absence.
Maryland's Bruce Perry, the ACC's leading rusher, picked up 67 yards and has 1,016 on the season.
"Without the turnovers I think we'd be fighting for our life on that last possession," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said.
Bowden recorded his 320th career coaching victory, moving ahead of Pop Warner on the career list. Bowden is now third, four behind all-time leader Joe Paterno of Penn State and three behind runner-up Bear Bryant.