Nov. 26, 1994- As they entered the fourth quarter that cool and overcast afternoon at Doak Campbell Stadium, Florida center David Swain and his teammates weren't thinking about holding on against Florida State.
Ahead 31-3, they smelled a rout.
"We wanted to embarrass them as badly as we could," Swain said. "We all talked about scoring as many times as possible. Everything was clicking."
On the other sideline, emotions varied.
A few Florida State players just wanted it to end. Others hoped the Seminoles could at least make things respectable. Linebacker Derrick Brooks was among those who kept the faith.
"The whole time we were down, I never felt we were going to lose," said Brooks, then a senior and now a star with the Bucs.
During the final quarter, the unthinkable happened.
Florida's offense went south and its defense went in the tank. Florida State, suddenly energized as if the first three quarters never happened, mounted an electrifying comeback the likes of which may never be witnessed again. The resulting 31-31 tie will live forever in Florida-Florida State lore as the Choke at Doak.
"Oh that was bizarre," FSU coach Bobby Bowden said.
One reporter may have captured it best by writing: "It was the best of ties. It was the worst of ties."
For coach Steve Spurrier and his Gators, it felt like a loss. To the Seminoles, "it felt like we won," Brooks said.
Ten years later, Florida's gag and FSU's rally remain firmly entrenched not only in the minds of the players, but those who witnessed the drama.
Florida's next drive stalled at the Gators 28. FSU began at its 27 and it was 31-24 two minutes later after a Kanell 2-yard keeper.
As the drama unfolded, the voice of the Seminoles Gene Deckerhoff told his audience, "For those of you who left early, sorry."
With 5:14 left, Florida took over at its 33. A 15-yard pass from Wuerffel to Reidel Anthony gave Florida hope. But two plays later, Colzie intercepted Wuerffel, sending the crowd into a frenzy.
Once again, FSU had no trouble finding the end zone. Rock Preston's 4-yard run made it 31-30 with 1:45 remaining. Bowden elected to go for the tie. (There was no overtime back then.) With Florida reeling, he figured FSU would have another chance to score. But he also didn't want such a comeback to end with a loss.
FSU made the kick and later got the ball back.
But with 22 seconds left, there wasn't enough time to score again.
When it ended, FSU players celebrated and Florida players slowly walked off the field with stunned looks on their faces.
"It was like two separate games," Swain said.
It is now affectionately known by all FSU fans as "The Choke at Doak".
Friday, November 24, 2006
Posted by tallynolefan at 7:12 PM