As the Gators continue preparations for the Sugar Bowl match-up with Louisville on January 2, 2013, HailFloridaHail continues to take a look back at past Gator Sugar Bowl games. Here we take a look back at the game played on January 2, 1995 between the Florida Gators and the Florida State Seminoles.
Six weeks after the Gators fell to (tied) the Seminoles 31-31 in what became known as the Choke at Doak, the two teams came to New Orleans to meet again in the Sugar Bowl in what was billed as “The Fifth Quarter”. The rematch would become one of the more memorable Florida-Florida State games and would not be the last time these two teams rematched a regular season game in the Sugar Bowl.
In this one, the two teams pulled out all the stops trying to get a victory. Especially, Florida State who used a double pass/halfback option from Warrick Dunn to score the Noles first touchdown. Seminole receiver O’mar Ellison snatched the football off the helmet of the Gator safety Lawrence Wright who had defended the play well, outran the Gator defense, and the Noles led 10-3. The Gators got in on the trick play action as well in the first quarter when the Gators used a reverse motion end around option pass from Reidel Anthony to Jack Jackson which led to a field goal after the Noles had kicked one on their opening drive tying the game at 3-3. There were reverses, emory & henry formations, double passes, fourth down stops, and long pass plays. There were big hits and big plays and both teams came to play and left everything on the field.
Unlike the first game, however, in which the Gators dominated the first three quarters, it was the Seminoles that took control of this game early. The Noles went up 17-3 before the Gators put a touchdown on the board on a beautiful 82 yard touchdown pass to Louisiana native Ike Hilliard where he bounced off a couple of Seminole players before outrunning the secondary for the td.
Both teams rolled up over 400 yards of offense in the game, but the Gators, who fell behind early, abandoned the running game and ended up throwing for 449 yards and almost pulled off the comeback falling just short in the end. Both teams featured great defensive lines as well and, in spite of all the offense, there were some great individual defensive plays. In the end, it was a great defensive play that may have turned the game. The first Nole touchdown was set up by a strip of Gator running back Fred Taylor who had busted up the middle on a series where the Gators were driving while the score was still 3-3.
Florida quarterback Danny Wuerffel finished the game 28-39 for 394 yards and one touchdown while Seminole qb Dan Kanell finished 23-40 for 252 yards and one touchdown. Neither team was able to get much out of the running game although the Seminoles did win that battle 76 yards to just 5 for the Gators.
Overall, despite this game meaning nothing on the national stage, it turned out to be a great complement to the regular season comeback/tie and remains one of the best Florida-Florida State games ever.