The Daily Nole

25-Year Anniversary: The Choke at Doak

Garnet and Great, FSU archivist

The old adage goes that a tie is like kissing your sister, but on the final Saturday in November 1994, Florida State escaped with a tie that was probably more rewarding to FSU fans than a lot of wins.

The Seminoles and rival Florida were each 9-1 and ranked in the top 10 when the schools met at Doak Campbell Stadium on Nov. 26, 1994. On this day 25 years ago, the fourth-ranked Gators led 31-3 after three quarters before settling for a 31-31 tie in a contest forever dubbed “The Choke at Doak”.

“Anyone who says they thought we’d come back and win or even tie is a liar,” said Andre Cooper, a sophomore receiver for FSU in 1994. “This was against a team we couldn’t stop or score against for three quarters. Our mindset was just to not to quit and not to get embarrassed any more than we already were in our own house.”

FSU quarterback Danny Kanell finished the day with 421 yards passing and two total touchdowns, but for much of the day, it looked like it would be the other quarterback named Danny who would reign supreme. Florida sophomore Danny Wuerffel helped the Gators build a 24-3 lead with three first-half touchdown passes, including a back breaker to Jack Jackson following a Kanell interception with just seconds remaining in the first half.

Florida would extend the lead to 31-3 on a short touchdown run on a sneak by Wuerffel with less than five minutes left in the third quarter. That would serve as the final score of the day for the Gators.

“We were dead, but we couldn’t quit,” Cooper said. “We didn’t want coaches to see us dogging plays on film. The momentum of the game just did a 180. I’ve never been involved in anything like that.”

With less than 13 minutes to go in the game, the Seminoles finally found the end zone on a 5-yard scamper by fullback Zack Crockett following a fourth-down conversion on a pass from Kanell to Kez McCorvey. Less than three minutes later, FSU was celebrating again as Kanell fired a 6-yard scoring strike to Cooper near the sideline.

“After that, I think we started to believe,” Cooper said. “We were in the game and we realized it wasn’t over.”

FSU’s third touchdown of the fourth quarter also came courtesy of Kanell, but this time with his legs. Kanell cut the Florida lead in half with 5:25 on a 2-yard touchdown run in which Kanell was able to roll into the end zone.

The Seminoles were back in business after James Colzie intercepted Wuerffel on a diving catch at the FSU 40-yard-line on the ensuing Florida drive. With 1:45 to go in the game, Rock Preston scored from four yards out on a hand-off. Rather than try the 2-point conversion for the lead, the Seminoles elected to tie the game on kicker Dan Mowrey’s fourth PAT of the day.

“At that point, I felt there was enough time to stop them and get the ball back,” Cooper said. “I was totally fine with that decision.”

FSU was able to get the ball back with less than 30 seconds remaining. After a completion, the Seminoles neared midfield on a Kanell scramble, but the junior quarterback was stopped short of the first down and unable to get another snap off before time expired.

“All that happened in such a short period of time,” Cooper said. “If there was 30 or 40 more seconds, I have no doubt we win that game. When you watch the game, it did feel like we won.”

McCorvey finished with 127 yards receiving to lead the Seminoles in the tie. Warrick Dunn, a then sophomore running back, added 96 yards receiving to go with a team-high 48 yards rushing.

After Florida edged Alabama for the SEC Championship, 24-23, the Seminoles and Gators would meet again more than a month later for the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans. The contest was dubbed the “Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter”.

The Seminoles would emerge victorious in the Sugar Bowl rematch, 23-17. The opportunistic FSU defense forced three Florida turnovers, including one by linebacker Derrick Brooks to seal the contest. Dunn, in his home state of Louisiana, finished with 109 yards from scrimmage to go with a 73-yard touchdown pass to ‘OMar Ellison — the longest in Sugar Bowl history at the time.

“To us, the Fifth Quarter in the French Quarter was definitely an extension of the tie,” Cooper said. “In hindsight today, it’s even more so, because we won the game. Had we come out a month later and lost, I don’t know that we’d be able to say that.”

Mike Ferguson is the editor of The Daily Nole. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson. Like The Daily Nole on Facebook. To pitch an idea, author a post or to learn more about The Daily Nole, email Mike Ferguson at Mike@TheDailyNole.com.

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