Some Memorable Plays (from the past) – 1990 Auburn vs. Florida State Edition
Greetings once more, lovers of post-secondary pigskin! At this time, when we are so close to opening day on the Plains that we can taste it, let’s look back on the last happy memory I was honored to witness against FSU – the great 1990 contest in Jordan-Hare Stadium.
Both teams came into the game ranked in the top 10 (AU at #5 and FSU at #7). And both felt like they had some business to which to attend. FSU had just been pummeled by Miami the previous week, and AU was not happy about loosing the last three meetings against the Seminoles. I was likewise tired of seeing Auburn come up short against FSU, having seen in person the 1987 beatdown by the Seminoles while attending Auburn and the 1989 loss in Tallahassee. I watched the ’89 game together with Jim, my long-time friend, and previous FSU attendee.
I had graduated with my second degree from Auburn in the Spring of 1988, and returned to my hometown of Jacksonville, Florida, to start my career. Over the next few years, Jim and I went to several Fla. State home games together, including the 1989 AU vs. FSU game. I was determined to go see the 1990 FSU game with Jim in Auburn.
By this time, we mere dues-paying Auburn alumni were not being offered single-game tickets to any decent games at Jordan-Hare. Although Jim’s season tickets made FSU away-game tickets available for him, I had to buy a pair of “scalped” (see what I did there) tickets from another Seminole-booster for myself and my best friend Bill, from Auburn.
Jim and I drove up to Bill’s parents’ home in Montgomery that Friday night, listening through the late night static to the Oakland-Cincinnati World Series on the radio.
After a night’s rest and a great day with Bill’s folks, we headed for Jordan-Hare for the night game. Bill and I were seated in the FSU section in the north end zone, with Jim several rows down from us. The sell-out crowd all settled in for what we expected to be a hard-nosed football game.
Auburn scored first with a touchdown in the first quarter, but FSU …
… came back with 17 unanswered points in the second. In the second half, AU’s defense stymied the Seminoles, and Jim Von Wyl kicked a field goal in the third quarter to keep the Tigers within striking distance entering the fourth. My only memories from the first three quarters was AU’s offense looking very anemic, as Stan White’s three interceptions kept stopping AU drives.
With about five minutes to go in the game, and Auburn fans’ enthusiasm waning, FSU was driving for an “insurance” score. That was the point when, (to quote Bo Jackson, describing AU-FSU 1985) when the last part of the game went “haywire.” It was a typical Auburn-FSU nail-biter with the following truly memorable plays:
Fublerooski? No, Just a Fumble.
With about five minutes to go, and seven points up, FSU had the ball on third down near the Auburn 40. Coach Bobby Bowden was looking for something big to get past the stiffened AU defense. He reached into his well-known bag of tricks and pulled out the Fumblerooski. In a clip from an unrelated game, here is how that play is supposed to work:
In the Seminoles’ case, it became just a fumble, as Auburn’s Walter Tate fell on the ball before the play could “get off the ground” (there I go again). Infused with new life, the Tigers stormed down the field for a Stacy Danley touchdown with under four minutes to go. Coach Pat Dye decided the best option for eventually winning was to kick the extra point; with some recalling the “Tie-Dye” decision in the Sugar Bowl a few years before.
From my vantage point in the far-away end zone, I couldn’t figure out what happened on the Fumblerooski. I didn’t even know what the play was supposed to be until the write-ups and replays the next day. It didn’t look like a regular fumbled snap, since all the FSU players were running a fake and most of the Auburn players were playing the fake. The referees just looked down at the ground and eventually awarded Auburn the ball.
Of course, FSU would get the ball back with a chance to break the tie, as we move to the next memorable play:
The Longest Sack EVER
After the ensuing kickoff, FSU quarterback Casey Weldon led the Seminoles down to the Auburn 37, where they faced fourth down with barely a minute to go. Having missed a long field goal earlier in the game, FSU decided to go for the first down. Weldon dropped back, and back, and back, till Auburn’s three-man rush broke through the FSU line. AU’s Ricky Sutton went for the tackle on Weldon, knocking the QB back, and back, and back, until Weldon finally fell down for a 22-yard sack!
Now it’s Auburn’s ball in FSU territory with a minute left–talk about flipping the field!
I was able to see this play clearly from my end-zone seat. Weldon just kept going the wrong way for FSU, and the right way for us, until he did a cartwheel and hit the ground.
Of course, Auburn had to covert this opportunity to turn a tie into a win. Yet three plays later the Tigers faced their own fourth down situation, setting up the next memorable play:
The Weapon Delivers
It looked like that sack would merely preserve the tie as Auburn QB Stan White lined up for a fourth-and-eight at the FSU 30-something. Three uninspiring plays led to this point, and my own enthusiasm had waned yet again. But Auburn was moving toward our end zone, so I was in perfect position to see what happened next: A standard drop-back and throw down the middle by White, and a leaping, reaching grab by Herbert “The Weapon” Casey for a 15-yard gain. First down, Auburn, in field goal range!
As we all know, Jim Von Wyl knocked the kick through with two seconds left, and Auburn went on to win perhaps the most memorably ending game in Auburn history–until, of course, those other two games at the end of last year!
Here is a video of the sack, Auburn’s fourth-down conversion, and the money kick, synchronized to the radio call of the great Jim Fyffe:
(As a side note, the poster of the above video, rscotta831, has also compiled “greatest hits” videos for both Jim Fyffe and Rod Bramblett–go check those out too!)
The original ESPN broadcast, including the Fumblerooskie attempt, is compressed into one hour in this video:
Here is the locker room celebration after the game (thanks to The War Eagle Reader):
Perhaps the best part of all great Auburn wins is the feeling right afterwards, especially in Jordan-Hare Stadium. For several minutes after the game, Auburn fans appropriated the famous “Seminole Chop” and fed it right back to the FSU fans who had themselves, until the very end, been sticking it to us Auburn faithful in full force. I myself didn’t mind getting the Chop thrown at us; that is just one of those fun things about football with which you have to deal when on the losing side. But that only means that turnabout is fair play, especially after a game like that!
Of course, Jim and I are still friends–in fact, both Jim and Bill were groomsmen in my wedding. I now live up near Athens, Georgia, and Jim recently returned to FSU a few years ago to complete his doctoral studies. Although we can’t see each other that much anymore, we do make sure we see each other once a year, when we both go back home to Jacksonville for Christmas. Of course, we had to make a bet on the BCS game, the terms of which included an embarrassing video of the loser to be posted everywhere we had a social media presence. And our usual, even more embarrassing part–the payment of a dollar, ‘In Cash, In Person’, with no offsets, mail-ins, or bit coin allowed (think the movie “Trading Places” to the nth degree).
This will be the last edition of my “memorable plays” series, since my football memory doesn’t seem to work as well as it once did. But I’ll still be musing on many other unforgettable memories generated by my time at Auburn, and inviting you all to share yours. WAR EAGLE!!!
(who declares that the “embarrassing video” portion of his bet with Jim is now void–he never did send me the required Seminoles shirt and hat–but I STILL have to face him and pay him the dollar!)