Dec. 28, 2006
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Shortly after Lorenzo Booker scored the first touchdown of the Emerald Bowl, he ran over to Bobby Bowden and wrapped his coach in a warm embrace.
And, about three hours later, Booker and Bowden had something else to enjoy - a season-ending victory.
Booker's last game in Florida State garnet and gold was his best. He had 117 yards receiving, 91 rushing and his second touchdown, a 3-yard plunge with 6:17 left, sealed the Seminoles' 44-27 win over UCLA on Wednesday night.
He was named the offensive player of the game, and was first to trot over to the small section of Florida State fans after the clock struck zero, helmet raised in his right arm.
Florida State ended the year 7-6, avoiding what would have been its first losing record under Bowden since 1976. Still, even with the big finish, Booker's senior year as a whole represented a disappointment - considering he was talking about contending for a national championship as the season began.
Booker came into the year as Florida State's top back and one of its few experienced leaders. But he failed to crack the 100-yard mark in total offense nine times in 12 regular-season games.
And his inconsistent production was one of the reasons why Florida State entered Wednesday on pace to post some of the program's worst numbers in three decades, results so bleak that they cost offensive coordinator Jeff Bowden - Bobby's son - his job.
Jeff Bowden, who was with the Seminoles for the bowl game, resigned under fire on Nov. 21, accepting a $537,500 settlement from the school's boosters in exchange for leaving. He was the lightning rod for critics this season in title-starved Tallahassee, especially after Florida State put up its lowest numbers in scoring since 1981 and total yardage since '74.
But against UCLA - a team that thoroughly stymied high-powered Southern California in the regular-season finale and kept the Trojans out of the Bowl Championship Series title game - everything clicked for the Seminoles' offense.
Florida State rolled up 433 yards, more than 100 over its season average. Drew Weatherford, who spent most of the Seminoles' bowl-preparation time not knowing if he'd even get the chance to start against UCLA, threw for 325 yards.