The Daily Nole

Head-to-Head, Bowden’s Noles “Out-Beamered” Frank’s Hokies

Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

Legends will be in the house on Sept. 3 as Florida State hosts Virginia Tech in the top-25 Labor Day opener for both teams.

Honorary captains for the contest will be a pair of coaching legends who helped elevate the two programs on the field to their existing states. Bobby Bowden coached at FSU for 34 years, winning two national championships and leading the Seminoles to an unprecedented 14 straight top-5 finishes from 1987 to 2000. Frank Beamer coached the Hokies from 1987 until 2015.

Beamer won nearly 66 percent of his games while in Blacksburg and had 13 10-win seasons. Beamer won three Big East titles and four ACC championships at a program that had just one 10-win campaign prior to his arrival. Beamer’s brand of football became known as “Beamerball”, which gained notoriety for its ability to make game-changing plays and score points on defense and particularly special teams.

While statistically, few, if any, did it better than Virginia Tech in that aspect of the game, it was an area where Florida State got the better of the Hokies under Bobby Bowden. Bowden held an 8-1 advantage over Beamer’s Virginia Tech teams head-to-head.

The most significant game between Bowden and Beamer at those respective schools was the Sugar Bowl for the 1999 national championship. In that contest, Virginia Tech actually held a 503-359 advantage when it came to total yardage, but special teams was the difference in a 46-29 victory for the Seminoles.

A blocked punt returned for a touchdown by Jeff Chaney doubled FSU’s lead to 14-0 before Peter Warrick’s electrifying 59-yard punt return made it 28-7 late in the first half. Virginia Tech also had a fake field goal attempt snuffed out in the loss. The Hokies would come back and grab a 29-28 lead before being outscored in the fourth quarter, 18-0.

Peter Warrick’s 59-yard punt return for a touchdown against Virginia Tech in the 2000 Sugar Bowl gave FSU a 46-29 lead. (Bill Frakes /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

The Seminoles were a 14-point underdog in Jacksonville when they faced No. 5 Virginia Tech, the defending conference champions, in December 2005 for the inaugural ACC Championship game. The contest was knotted 3-3 at halftime when an 83-yard punt return for a touchdown by FSU’s Willie Reid early in the third quarter changed the contest. The score ignited an outburst of 24 straight Florida State points before the Seminoles held on for a 27-22 victory and a 12th ACC title in 14 years.

The first meeting between Bowden and Beamer came in 1988. The Hokies blocked a pair of field goals in that one, but FSU still prevailed easily, 41-14. FSU dominated again 41-7 the following year, but some “Beamerball” was needed for the Seminoles to come out victorious in 1990 at Doak Campbell Stadium.

Virginia Tech jumped out to a 21-3 lead and held a 28-25 advantage late in the third quarter when Terrell Buckley returned a Will Furrer interception 53 yards for a touchdown to put the Seminoles ahead, 32-28. With the Hokies driving to take the lead inside the Florida State 40-yard-line with less than five minutes to go, Vaughn Hebron fumbled after being hit by FSU linebackers Kirk Carruthers and Marvin Jones. Cornerback Errol McCorvey recovered the fumble and raced 77 yards for a touchdown to ice the game in a 39-28 win for the Seminoles.

Buckley would add a second interception to seal the 1990 contest and history would repeat itself in Orlando in 1991 — to Virginia Tech and Furrer’s misfortune. With the contest tied 7-7, Buckley returned a Furrer interception 71 yards for a touchdown to give FSU the lead in an eventual 33-20 win.

In between FSU’s national title and ACC triumph over Virginia Tech was a Gator Bowl match-up in Jacksonville to cap the 2001 season. In that contest, Marcello Church blocked a Virginia Tech punt midway through the second quarter to set up FSU’s first touchdown on a quarterback sneak by Chris Rix in a 30-17 win.

Beamer’s lone win over Bowden came in 2007 in Blacksburg by a 40-21 score. In that contest, both teams scored defensive touchdowns. FSU linebacker Dekoda Watson returned an interception 40 yards to cut Virginia Tech’s 20-9 lead to five. FSU would eventually take a 21-20 lead before the Hokies answered with 11 straight points.

Defensive end Chris Ellis returned an interception from FSU backup Christian Ponder five yards for a touchdown with 5:13 remaining to seal the win. Virginia Tech would put the exclamation point on the win with a safety less than three minutes later. FSU won 30-20 the following year in Tallahassee in what would be the final match-up between the two legends.

While FSU and Virginia Tech fans may bicker once in a while about things such as bowl streaks, it’s hard to deny either Bowden or Beamer’s greatness. When it came to putting points on the board and creating opportunities in aspects of the game outside of offense, few did it better than the Virginia Tech legend. Against the Seminoles however, Bowden’s teams managed to “out-Beamer” the Hokies more often than not.

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply