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December 31, 2007

Kentucky takes down depleted Florida State

MORE: Box score | Rivals.com Bowl Central

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Andre' Woodson threw four TD passes against a depleted Florida State defense and Kentucky won its second straight Music City Bowl, beating the Seminoles 35-28 on Monday for Bobby Bowden's first bowl loss in December.

Kentucky hadn't ended back-to-back seasons with bowl wins since 1951-52 under Bear Bryant, but the Wildcats pulled off the feat in Nashville one year after surprising Clemson, coached by Bowden's son, Tommy.

As for the elder Bowden, who has led the Seminoles to 26 straight bowls and two national titles, his December bowl record finally has its first blemish at 7-1-1. Bowden is major college football's winningest coach with 373 victories - one ahead of Penn State's Joe Paterno.

Florida State was playing three dozen players short due to injuries and suspensions stemming from an academic cheating scandal.

Woodson capitalized on the missing depth and finished the season with 40 touchdown passes, breaking Tim Couch's school-record 37 set in 1998. It was the 19th consecutive game with at least 200 passing yards and a scoring pass for Woodson, a senior who figures to be among the first quarterbacks taken in the NFL draft.

The Wildcats took the lead for good midway through the third quarter on Woodson's 2-yard slant to Rafael Little, who ran for a season-high 152 yards on 28 carries. It was the 13th 100-yard rushing game for the senior running back, tying him for second on Kentucky's career list.

Antone Smith had a career-high 156 rushing yards for the Seminoles.

Florida State quarterback Drew Weatherford pulled the Seminoles to 28-21 with 8 minutes left on a 1-yard bootleg run - his first career game with two rushing TDs. Weatherford completed 22 of 48 passes for a TD and two interceptions.

Woodson immediately answered, dumping off a short pass that Steve Johnson took for 38 yards for his second TD reception. Johnson led all receivers with 126 yards.

Weatherford would add a TD pass to Greg Carr with just over 2 minutes remaining, and Florida State got the ball back at the 1-minute mark behind by one score.

Linebacker Micah Johnson appeared to come up with a game-icing interception, but a fumble gave the Seminoles another chance. Weatherford's last-second pass fell incomplete in the end zone.

Kentucky improved to 4-1-1 against the Seminoles in their first matchup since 1965. It was the first meeting ever between Bowden and Kentucky coach Rich Brooks, friends for nearly three decades.

The score was 14-all after a first half in which Bowden and others on the Florida State sideline gave the officials an earful after two close calls.

The Seminoles disputed an offensive pass interference call on Carr that negated a touchdown. Gary Cismesia wound up missing a field goal - he didn't make any in the game and finished the season with 27, tied with Sebastian Janikowski for the Atlantic Coast Conference record.

Florida State got the ball right back after Carr's mistake, recovering a second fumble by Little. Kentucky ended that possession with a goal-line stand, but the Seminoles' Tony Carter picked off Woodson's next pass and returned it 24 yards to tie the game.

Kentucky appeared to pull ahead at the end of the half on a field goal by Lones Seiber, but Florida State was called for personal foul on the play. Brooks decided to try for the TD rather than keep the points, and Seiber eventually missed from 39 yards.

Kentucky scored first, taking advantage of a blocked punt. Woodson soon connected with a wide-open Jacob Tamme from 14 yards out.

The next time Kentucky had the ball, Little fumbled just short of the goal line. Carter grabbed the loose ball and ran 51 yards, stopped only after colliding with teammate Andre Fluellen.

Weatherford, not known for dashing speed, scampered 27 yards on Florida State's first play of the next drive and later ran it in from 6 yards out to make it 7-all.

MORE: Rivals.com Bowl Central



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