Warrick stars in Florida State’s victory over Clemson
CLEMSON, S.C. (AP) _ Peter Warrick doesn’t know much about being a star.
After his stunning, 90-yard punt return against Clemson, he didn’t strut to the sidelines, or taunt the Death Valley crowd like Florida State’s Deion Sanders did nine years ago. There’s was nothing flashy about the soft-spoken sophomore, except his play.
Warrick accounted for three long touchdowns, including the first punt return score at Memorial Stadium since Sanders ran a 76-yarder back in 1988. Warrick’s fourth-ranked Seminoles squeezed past Clemson 35-28 on Saturday.
``It makes me feel pretty good that I was like Deion, because I had just fumbled one before,″ Warrick said. ``I was pretty down after, but that’s what we have to try and do _ to overcome things.″
The Seminoles (3-0, 2-0 Atlantic Coast Conference) led 21-17 a minute into the fourth quarter when Warrick chased a punt deep over his shoulder, slithered right and broke free for the 90-yard score.
After Clemson’s injured quarterback, Nealon Greene, connected for a 17-yard touchdown pass with Brian Wofford and made a 2-point conversion to cut Florida State’s lead to 28-25, Warrick zipped down the right sidelines for an 80-yard touchdown catch to restore the double-digit lead.
``It’s funny, because as a coach all you see are the bad things,″ Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden said. ``In my mind, I see him dropping two balls.″
Warrick finished with eight catches for 249 yards, while quarterback Thad Busby had a career-high 332 yards passing despite just nine first downs.
If this is supposed to be the year when the rest of the ACC catches up with the Seminoles, it will take a couple more weeks. Florida State takes next week off, then faces Miami on Oct. 4 before resuming its league schedule.
As it stands, Florida State is 41-1 against ACC opponents.
Greene, who led the Tigers (2-1, 1-1) to their highest ranking and best start in five years, was forced to play with a painful turf toe when backup Brandon Streeter was sidelined by a shoulder injury in the first half.
Greene did not have the mobility he has shown this year. Following Warrick’s last TD, Clemson’s Tony Horne brought back the kickoff 77 yards. But Greene missed badly on two passes and was sacked by Roland Seymour as Clemson came up empty.
Greene got Clemson to Florida State’s 2 on its next drive with crisp throws to Mal Lawyer for 19 yards and Wofford for 25. Then Greene was sacked by Daryl Bush, and the Tigers settled for Matt Padgett’s 24-yard field goal.
``Being able to sit in the pocket, that’s really not Nealon’s game,″ receiver Justin Watts said. ``It hurt us a little bit.″
E.G. Green clinched the game with a spinning one-handed grab for 40 yards over Clemson’s Michael Allen with 2:31 left.
Without Greene, Clemson’s passing game was supposed to be grounded. But Streeter completed three of four passes on his first series, which ended on the quarterback’s slippery draw for a 32-yard touchdown.
Bush, who missed Florida State’s victory over Maryland last week, set up Bill Gramatica’s 34-yard field goal with an interception.
The Seminoles defense, which came in ranked the nation’s best, chased a snap that sailed high past Streeter into the end zone. Sam Cowart covered it to put Florida State up 10-7.
Clemson’s star runner, Raymond Priester, was held to 77 yards on 25 carries. But Warrick made the difference for Florida State.
``If he can learn to concentrate every down, he’ll be an All-American,″ said Bowden, who became the eighth Division I-A coach to win 200 with one school.
But don’t count on `look-at-me’ displays like Sanders’, who once taunted Clemson players waiting at the top of the Death Valley hill for their traditional entrance.
``I think as a player I’m more kind of like ... Peter Warrick,″ he said, laughing.