While yesterday was a sad anniversary for our country, today is a happy anniversary for Wolfpack fans. Thirteen years ago today on September 12, 1998 the Wolfpack pulled off an upset that ranks among the biggest wins in school history.
Let me set the stage: the Wolfpack was coming off a 6-5 record in 1997 and started off the 1998 season with a last minute blocked punt TD win over Ohio 34-31. The Florida State Seminoles came into Carter-Finley Stadium ranked #2 in the country coming off an 11-1 season and a 1-0 start with a win over Texas A&M. FSU had been in the ACC for 6 years and had a 47-1 conference record, the only loss coming to UVA in 1995 when Warrick Dunn got stuffed at the goalline. After that loss, FSU rolled off 18 straight ACC wins. This was also the same Florida State program that had beaten the Wolfpack by scores like 77-17 in 1995 and 62-3 in 1993. My friends and I had plans to go out to dinner for my birthday after the game, we had no idea we would have double reason to celebrate.
I doubt anybody in Carter-Finley expected to be celebrating after the first play from scrimmage. Future Heisman Trophy winner Chris Weinke hit Peter Warrick for a 74 yard touchdown. Twenty seconds into the game and the Noles were already up 7-0. After those 77-17 and 62-3 losses, the thought of “here we go again” was certainly in my mind.
However, at the end of the 1st quarter the Wolfpack would have a 13-7 lead. Jamie Barnette hooked up with Eric Leak for a 31 yard touchdown, but with a missed extra point the Noles still led 7-6.
Enter Torry Holt. In the previous year in Tallahassee, the Wolfpack rallied from a 27-0 first quarter deficit to eventually fall 48-35. Holt had 12 catches for 168 yards and all 5 of the Pack’s touchdowns. A year later Holt picked up right where he left off.
Just 2 minutes after Leak’s TD, Holt had a 68 yard punt return for a TD that would eventually be the game winner.
The only scoring in the 2nd and 3rd quarters came on a 39 yard field goal by Scott Earwood, giving the Wolfpack a 16-7 lead going into the 4th quarter.
The Pack’s defense, after giving up a TD on the game’s first play from scrimmage, never let the Noles score again. The Wolfpack secondary picked off Weinke 6 times, twice by Lloyd Harrison, and after completing only 9 of 32 passes Weinke was eventually pulled by Bobby Bowden for backup Marcus Outzen.
For some insurance points, Holt struck again by scoring on a 63 yard TD pass from Barnette. After a 2 point conversion, the Wolfpack had a 24-7 lead that would stand as the final score.
Rashon Spikes (the last player to wear #17 before you know who) led the Pack in rushing with 63 yards on 22 carries. Jamie Barnette was 17-32 for 267 yards, 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. Torry Holt was the leading receiver with 9 catches for 135 yards.
Mike O’Cain’s quote after the game: “Nobody gave us a dog’s chance of
coming in here and winning this football game, not a prayer.”