Terry Allen scored 3 TDs in the 1989 FSU game.
Photo Courtesy of Clemson Athletics
1989 Clemson-FSU Game
By: Sam Blackman, Clemson Athletic Communications  
Release:  10/28/2016
by Sam Blackman

A classic Clemson football victory occurred 27 years ago when Clemson defeated 16th-ranked Florida State 34-23 in Tallahassee, FL on September 9, 1989.  

The previous season, Florida State defeated the Tigers in Death Valley thanks to the infamous “puntrooski” play

The Tigers had great performances on both sides of the ball in this ESPN nationally- televised game.   Clemson outplayed the Seminoles as former Bobby Bowden concurred in the post game press conference.   

“This was just a good whippin’,” said then Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden.   I believe they’re better than last year.   They looked like they came out with a year of frustration behind them.   I think they’d heard enough about the “puntrooski”.

“Everytime we would stop the bleeding and climb back in it, Clemson would make a big play and take the momentum back.  They played great.  I’m very impressed with them.   I’m amazed that we couldn’t stop them better,” said Bowden.

Clemson exploded offensively in the first half and took a 21-0 lead in front of a stunned Florida State crowd.   Tailback, Terry Allen scored on a pair of one-yard runs on Clemson’s first possessions of the first and second periods.   

Clemson’s linebacker Wayne Simmons came through with a 73-yard interception return for touchdown in the second quarter, the second longest interception return in Clemson history by a linebacker.   Jimmy Quarles had a 90 yarder against Rice in 1951.

After a Florida State touchdown, Terry Allen showed his improved speed and went 73 yards for a score just 1:16 before halftime to give Clemson a 28-7 lead.

It was the first time Florida State had given up 28 points in a half since the 1985 Florida game.

Chris Gardocki put the game out of reach with a pair of field goals in the fourth quarter.   Gardocki hit a 29 yarder and a 26 yarder in the first 5:51 of the last quarter.

Clemson controlled the clock much of the second half behind the ball handling expertise and passing proficiency of quarterback Chris Morocco.   The native of Athens, GA hit 8-9 passes for the evening for 134 yards.   

Clemson averaged 7.1 yards a play for the night.    Offensive tackle Stacy Long was a key for the Tigers as he had a 10-knockdown block performance against All-American Odell Haggins and the Seminole front four.  Haggins is currently an Associate Head Coach for the Seminoles and has been at Florida State for 23 years.  

Defensively, linebacker Doug Brewster was the top tackler with 12 stops, but a pair of Clearwater, FL natives also made great contributions in their home state.   Safety Arlington Nunn had nine stops, while linebacker Vince Taylor contributed eight tackles.   Simmons had a sack and six tackles to go along with his 73-yard interception return for a touchdown.   The Clemson defense held Florida State to 106 yards rushing.   FSU scored a touchdown with just five seconds remaining in the game to bring the final margin of victory to 11 points.  

The victory over the 16th-ranked Seminoles gave Danny Ford a 6-0 record in the state of Florida, including 5-0 in bowl games.   It broke a 10-game Florida State home winning streak.   

Clemson running back Terry Allen rushed the ball 20 times for 130 yards and three touchdowns.    He was named ACC Player of the Week for his stellar performance.  Joe Henderson had seven carries for 63 yards.   Rodney fletcher led the Tigers in receiving with four catches for 92 yards.    

Former Clemson Head Coach Danny Ford praised his team for their performance and credited the poise of the Tigers for the win.   

“I’m very proud of you for the game you played,” Clemson Head Coach Danny Ford told his players in the locker room after the convincing Tiger win.  “I’m very proud of you for the game you played.  You came into a very hostile place and I couldn’t have asked any better of you.   The third quarter was a little shaky, but we came back and got a score of our own.   You all did what you had to do and that is the mark of a great team against some pretty big odds.”   

Coach Ford had this to say to the media:  “We were able to put some heat on the quarterback in the second half.   They’re a tremendous offensive football team and they kept me scared to death the entire game.   We had to have some people play better than they are able to and to have some others whip some people, and we did a pretty good job of accomplishing that,” said Ford.   

Clemson went from this early victory over the Seminoles to finish with a 10-2 record overall.   Florida State finished the year with an identical 10-2 record and a second-place finish in the final poll.   

The Tigers were the first ACC team to win at least 10 games for three straight seasons, and the Tigers defeated South Carolina 45-0 in the regular season finale.   Clemson won the Gator Bowl with a convincing 27-7 victory over West Virginia and All-American Major Harris.   The Tigers finished fifth in the nation in total defense and produced two All-Americans, offensive tackle Stacy Long and place kicker Chris Gardocki.  The Tigers were ranked 11th in the final poll.   

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