MIAMI (AP) -- This really was one for the ages.
For more than four hours, Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden paced the
Orange Bowl sidelines, searching for offense and enduring one
missed kick after another.
Finally, in the third overtime, at 1 a.m. Wednesday, Kevin Kelly
made a 29-yard field goal, giving Paterno and Penn State a 26-23
victory over Bowden's Florida State Seminoles.
"I told him we're too old for this," the 79-year-old Paterno
said afterward. "It's almost past my bedtime."
And one of the most thrilling anyone's ever seen.
Paterno had said he didn't want the game to be about him and the
76-year-old Bowden, who rank 1-2 in career coaching victories. It
turned out to be about missed opportunities, improbable twists,
epic length -- and nearly unbearable suspense.
Kelly missed field goal attempts of 29 and 38 yards that would
have won the game. Paterno calmly patted the freshman's back after
the second miss, then sent him back onto the field for another try.
It was second down, and Paterno called for a fake field goal.
But Florida State's defensive alignment negated that idea.
Kelly kicked the winner instead.
"I still had my confidence," Kelly said. "I don't think I've
ever missed three in a row."
Florida State counterpart Gary Cismesia missed an extra point in
the first half and field goal tries of 44 and 38 yards in overtime
-- a familiar problem for Bowden. Missed or blocked field goals have
helped the Miami Hurricanes beat him six times, including in the
2004 Orange Bowl.
"When they pick the all-time missed field-goal coach, I'll
probably get the award," Bowden said. "We're masters at that."
The No. 3-ranked Nittany Lions finished 11-1, with the only loss
coming when they gave up a touchdown to Michigan on the game's
final play. Paterno's best season in 11 years represented a big
rebound after going 7-16 in 2003-04.
"Obviously this year has been one of the most rewarding,"
Paterno said at the end of his 40th season in coaching. "To win
this one this way at the end of the year is a great tribute to the
kids and the coaching staff. So it's a great feeling."
No. 22 Florida State fell to 8-5, Bowden's worst season since
1981. Also concluding his 40th season as a head coach, he tried to
shrug off the defeat.
"I told my kids, what a great game that was to build going into
next year," Bowden said. "I think we're heading in the right
Moments after the game ended, the two old friends came together,
stood shoulder-to-shoulder in a crush of cameras and microphones
and exchanged warm words.
"No animosity. No animosity. I mean that," Bowden said.
"Both teams played so hard," Paterno added.
"Both teams played as well as they could play," Bowden
In a bowl season that started before Christmas and has included
plenty of lackluster affairs, this one really was worth staying up
for. And it served as a perfect warmup to the biggest game yet: No.
1 USC vs. No. 2 Texas in the Rose Bowl on Wednesday.
Florida State mostly contained Big Ten MVP Michael Robinson, who
threw a touchdown pass with six seconds left in the first half but
was limited to 253 yards passing and 21 rushing. One scrum knocked
off his helmet.
He hit two clutch completions to give Penn State a chance to win
the game in regulation. But Kelly, hampered by a shaky hold, was
wide left on a 29-yard field goal attempt with 35 seconds left.
Cismesia kicked a 48-yard field goal with 4:08 left in
regulation to tie the game at 16-all, but on the first series of
overtime he was wide right on a 44-yard attempt.
Then it was Kelly's turn. He again pushed a try wide left, this
time a 38-yarder with a perfect hold.
Austin Scott's 1-yard run put Penn State ahead. B.J. Dean pulled
the Seminoles even with a 1-yard scoring run.
After Cismesia's 38-yard attempt hit the right upright, Kelly
finally came through. The kick gave Paterno his 354th career win,
second in Division I-A only to Bowden's 359.
"It came down to one play," Paterno said. "It could have gone
the other way."
Paterno improved to 7-1 against Bowden. The only loss came the
last time they met, when Florida State beat Penn State in the 1990
Blockbuster Bowl -- also at Miami.
With his first win in the Orange Bowl since 1974, Paterno
improved to 21-10-1 in bowl games.
Both offenses spent much of the game going backward, but there
were fireworks, too. Ethan Kilmer made a leaping 24-yard scoring
reception with six seconds left in the first half to give Penn
State a 14-13 halftime lead.
"We had a lot of perseverance,'' Kilmer said. "We had to just
keep plugging away, keep plugging away, keep plugging away."
The Seminoles scored two touchdowns in 80 seconds -- on an Orange
Bowl-record 87-yard punt return by Willie Reid, and on a 57-yard
reception by Lorenzo Booker. But they totaled only six first downs
before Drew Weatherford drove them 65 yards for the tying field
goal late in the fourth quarter.
Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, the Butkus Award winner,
hurt his right knee during the drive and was carted off the field.
Paterno said he'll require an MRI to determine the extent of the
Tony Hunt, a 1,047-yard rusher for Penn State, departed in the
first quarter with a left ankle injury. Scott replaced him and ran
for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
The teams punted 20 times, all in the first three periods. In
the second half, they swapped eight possessions before either made
a first down -- on a pass-interference penalty.
Defense produced the first score of the half. Weatherford,
working from his end zone, was called for intentional grounding -- a
safety -- when Penn State's Jim Shaw forced a throw.
Leading 16-13, the Nittany Lions had a chance to take control
with nine minutes left. But on first-and-goal at the 4, Florida
State recovered a botched snap.
The Seminoles netted 26 yards rushing and were penalized 129
yards. Despite the lack of punch, they stayed in the game thanks to
two big plays.
They trailed 7-0 when Reid weaved up the middle on a runback,
cut left and dashed to the end zone. The punt return broke the
Orange Bowl record of 80 yards by former Florida State athletic
director Cecil "Hootie" Ingram for Alabama in 1953.