Bruins Can't Hang On In Emerald Bowl, Fall To FSU 44-27

Dec. 27, 2006

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Bobby Bowden has his 30th straight winning team at Florida State after the coach's most frustrating squad put a fierce finish on a wild Emerald Bowl.

Lorenzo Booker ran for 91 yards, caught five passes for 117 more and scored two touchdowns, leading the Seminoles to a 44-27 victory over UCLA on Wednesday night.

The Seminoles (7-6) finished with their worst record since going 7-4-1 in 1986, but the 77-year-old Bowden still hasn't coached a club with a losing record since going 5-6 in his first season in Tallahassee.

In a 21-point fourth quarter, Greg Carr caught a go-ahead, 30-yard touchdown pass on fourth-and-9, and California native Booker capped his final college game with a key third-down catch and a 3-yard TD run with 6:17 left.

Tony Carter's 86-yard interception return for another score 37 seconds later capped an impressive finish for Florida State (7-6), which clinched its Hall of Fame coach's 20th bowl victory at the close of what he called his most trying season.

Drew Weatherford overcame a shaky start to pass for 325 yards, including 126 in the fourth, for Florida State.

Patrick Cowan passed for 240 yards and Chris Markey ran for 144 for the Bruins (7-6), who came in with a three-game winning streak, highlighted by a 13-9 victory over archrival USC 3 1/2 weeks ago.

A 3-5 record in ACC play, including four losses in six games to close the regular season, left Florida State to make the longest road trip in school history to the San Francisco Giants' waterfront ballpark. The Seminoles have played in 25 straight bowl games, but the last 15 were played in January, with considerably bigger stakes and payouts.

Yet the Seminoles rolled on offense, defense and special teams in the second half. Lawrence Timmons returned a blocked punt 25 yards for a score in the third quarter, and Carter's return was just one of several big stops.

Most in the sellout crowd of 40,331 fans cheered UCLA, but Florida State had a surprisingly solid rooting section for a game more than 2,600 miles away from Tallahassee.

Florida State took a 23-20 lead in the third quarter when Dekoda Watson blocked a punt and Timmons returned it for a score, but UCLA went back ahead on Chane Moline's 8-yard TD run moments later.

When a Florida State drive stalled early in the fourth quarter with the Seminoles trailing by four, Bowden and his son, deposed offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden, proved they had nothing to lose by boldly going for it on fourth and long. Carr easily made his TD catch a step from the end zone when his defender fell down.

Brandon Breazell caught a 78-yard TD pass and Junior Taylor had a scoring catch in the first half for the Bruins, who finished the regular season playing some of their best football in coach Karl Dorrell's four seasons. It didn't translate into bowl success when the tension mounted.

The Bruins led 20-13 at halftime, and a game expected to be dominated by defense featured 501 total yards in the first half alone.

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