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Sat, 02 Jan 1993

NU's Bowl Skid Continues

Steve Pivovar

Florida State extended Nebraska's New Year's Day blues with a 27-14 victory Friday night in the 59th Orange Bowl.

The third-ranked Seminoles' win, before a drenched 57,324 at the 77,224-seat stadium, pushed Nebraska's losing skid in postseason play to six. The 11th-rated Huskers ended 9-3 and have not opened the new year with a victory since a win over Louisiana State in the 1987 Sugar Bowl.

On the other hand, Florida State added to its NCAA record by winning its eight straight bowl game. The Seminoles, who finish 11-1, have not lost in their last 11 postseason appearances as they presented Coach Bobby Bowden with his 12th victory in 16 postseason games.

The win also assures a Top Five finish for the Seminoles for the sixth straight season. Only Oklahoma and Miami can match that run.

Florida State came into the game off a three-game stretch drive that saw the Seminoles rip Maryland, Tulane and Florida for 184 points. While Nebraska slowed the Seminoles' no-huddle, shotgun offense, the Huskers could stop slippery junior quarterback Charlie Ward or his teammates.

Ward completed 15 of 30 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. He also gained 23 yards on 14 rushes to finish with 210 yards of total offense - 76 under his average during the regular season.

Ward directed the Seminoles to a 20-0 lead in the second quarter. Nebraska got within 13 at the halftime, and could have been within six points had kicker Byron Bennett not missed a pair of field-goal attempts in the first half.

Rain, which began falling at the start of the second quarter, turned into a stadium-emptying downpour at the start of the second half. Ward then directed the Seminoles to a touchdown on their first possession of the second half to all but cement the victory.

Sean Jackson led Florida State with 101 yards rushing on 17 carries. He also caught four passes for 61 yards.

The Seminoles' defense contributed three turnovers and held Husker "we-backs" Calvin Jones and Derek Brown to 91 yards. Jones gained 76 yards on 19 carries, while Brown had 15 on four attempts before reinjuring his shoulder in the second half and leaving the game.

Nebraska freshman quarterback Tommie Frazier threw two touchdowns in a 10-for-21 performance that produced 146 yards. He was intercepted twice, and gained just one yard on seven rushes.

The Seminoles led 20-7 after a first half of gimmicks and mistakes.

Nebraska five times ran plays from scrimmage out of the shotgun formation. The Huskers picked up 35 yards on a split-end reverse Corey Dixon and got their first Orange Bowl touchdown since 1984 on a juggling catch by Dixon 1:03 before the half.

Florida State took a 7-0 lead when the Seminoles marched 75 yards in three plays. The Huskers contributed to the march, committing three penalties for 25 yards that kept the drive alive.

The first Husker penalty, an offside call, wiped out a sack of Ward by Tyrone Hughes. The second, a face-mask call on Toby Wright, added 5 yards to a 6-yard pass completion to Kez McCorvey.

The third penatly came on linebacker Ed Stewart's late hit on Ward after the Florida State quarterback had thrown incomplete from his 40. On the next play, Ward rifled a 25-yard touchdown pass to Vanover, who had raced past Nebraska cornerback John Reece to haul in the throw near the goal line and score his fifth touchdown of the season.

Vanover almost jolted the Huskers with a 91-yard scoring run on a flanker reverse after Nebraska punter Mike Stigge had pinned the Seminoles deep in their territory with a 31-yard punt.

Vanover took the pitch from Ward, broke upfield and tightroped the near sideline. He cut back into the heart of the field near midfield, racing past Kenny Wilhite and scored untouched.

The referees ruled Vanover had stepped out of bounds at the Florida State 33. Nebraska held on downs, then survived a fake-punt run by John Wimberly. Wimberly picked enough yardage for the first down but the gain was erased by a clipping penalty.

The Huskers mounted their first drive of the game in the opening minutes of the second quarter. A 16-yard run by fullback Lance Lewis pushed Nebraska into Florida State territory, and Dixon followed with the split-end reverse for a 35-yard gain to the Seminoles' 11-yard line.

Two rushes by Jones gained 5 yards, but the drive stalled when Frazier threw behind Jones in the end zone. Bennett came on to try a 23-yard field goal but pushed the kick wide to the left.

The Seminoles took a 10-0 lead with 10:54 remaining in the half when Dan Mowrey nailed a 40-yard field goal. Florida State used two plays to account for all but 1 of the 58 yards it needed on the scoring drive.

Vanover opened the possession with a 29-yard run on another reverse. The freshman suffered a right shoulder injury on the play and did not play the rest of the half.

The Seminoles stung the Huskers with a 28-yard gain when Ward pitched to tailback Jackson, then slipped behind the Nebraska defense to take a return pass from Jackson. Ward carried the football to the Nebraska 23 before Trev Alberts made the tackle to complete the 29-yard gain.

Frazier made a crucial mistake on Nebraska's next possession that set up the Seminoles' second touchdown. Running an option play on second and 10 from his own 20, Frazier threw an overhand pitch behind Brown. Florida State defensive end Dan Footman came up with the loose ball at the Nebraska 2-yard line.

Three plays later, Ward threw a 3-yard scoring pass to McCorvey, who had slipped outside Reece's coverage for an easy touchdown. Mowrey's conversion kick made it 17-0 with 9:22 remaining.

Mowrey hiked the lead to 20-0 when his 24-yard field goal capped a 70-yard, 10-play possession for the Seminoles. The drive came after Nebraska squandered its scoring opportunity of the night.

The Huskers, getting a 48-yard kickoff return from Barron Miles, moved from the Florida State 47 to the 17. Brown contributed a 15-yard run, and Frazier threw a 12-yard pass to Vincent Hawkins to convert on fourth-and-seven from the 29.

Brown lost 5 yards when he fumbled a pitch, and Frazier threw incomplete to stall the drive. Bennett's 39-yard field goal attempt had the distance but again was wide to the left.

The Seminoles came back with the 70-yard drive that ended with Mowrey's second field goal. The big play on the drive was a 30-yard completion from Ward to 'OMar Ellison.

Nebraska countered with its first touchdown drive in the Orange Bowl since its final score of the 1984 game, in which the Huskers lost to Miami 31-30. In their last two appearances here, the Huskers had managed just one field goal in eight quarters against Miami.

Dixon accounted for all but 4 of the 63 yards on the five-play drive. He caught an 18-yard pass from Frazier to give Nebraska a first down at the Florida State 45. After Jones gained 4 yards, Frazier and Dixon teamed up on the scoring play.

Florida State cornerback Corey Sawyer got a hand on Frazier's deep pass and knocked it off Dixon's helmet. Dixon then juggled the ball before making the catch in the end zone. Bennett's conversion cut the Seminoles' lead to 20-7 with 63 seconds left in the half.

The gentle rain that first started at the beginning of the second quarter turned to a stadium-emptying downpour at the start of the second half. After the Huskers were unable to make a first down on their first three plays of the third quarter, Florida State took the football and ground out a 16-play, 85-yard drive.

Running almost exclusively from the I-formation, Ward marched the Seminoles into position for Jackson's 11-yard scoring run with 4:52 left in the period. Mowrey's conversion put Florida State ahead 27-7, and the Seminoles got the football right back on Leon Fowler's interception on the first play following the kickoff.

The Huskers pulled back within 27-14 when Fraizer directed a seven-play, 70-yard drive in the fourth quarter. Frazier's 37-yard pass to Dixon moved the Huskers to the Florida State 1. On the next play, Frazier passed to tight Gerald Armstrong for the score with 10:24 remaining.

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