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Speaking of 90-yard plays ..... an incredible November in 1976

The 98-yard Ponder to Owens hookup was the longest play since Weinke to Minnis vs. Clemson 9 years ago.  It became the 8th FSU scoring play from scrimmage of 90 or more yards. That's 8 in more than 60 years of FSU football.

Now, what if I told you that 4 of those plays -- HALF OF THEM -- happened in ONE MONTH! In fact, the four plays happened in just three games!!  It's true. November of 1976 saw four plays from scrimmage of more than 90 yards.

The 1976 season was Bobby Bowden's first. Expectations were high that year, but the start was slow. A loss at lowly regarded Memphis State was followed by a 47-0 shellacking at the hands of Miami.  Bowden decided right then that the future was now -- he started seven freshman in Norman at No. 4 Oklahoma, a game in which the Noles were surely a 30-point underdog, give or take.

Some of those freshmen's names might be familiar to you -- Walter Carter, Kurt Unglaub, Scott Warren and Jackie Flowers. They would be the nucleus of FSU's rise to power in the late 1970s. Anyway, the Sooners led just 17-9 midway through the fourth quarter before scoring late to win 24-9. FSU won 5 of its last 8, losing only to UF, Auburn and Clemson and never looked back.

Read about those four plays after the jump ....

 

The first play came on Nov. 6 at home vs. Southern Miss. FSU trailed Southern Miss 27-10 with less than 12 minutes left. But Quincy senior Rudy Thomas -- who was slight of build and one of the most underrated RB's in FSU history -- scored three touchdowns to bring FSU all the way back. The last was a 95-yard screen pass that won the game.

That game ended up being one of the most important in FSU history. The Noles would lose just five regular season games in the next 3 seasons.

Next came the infamous snow game at N. Texas State. FSU woke up to a 5-inch snowstorm in Texas. Jimmy Black hit Unglaub on a 91-yard TD pass in that game with N. Texas defenders slipping and sliding in the snow as Unglaub scored.

Finally, FSU took on Virginia Tech in Tallahassee. Larry Key -- one of my all-time favorite Noles -- went 97 yards for a score. Then later, Jimmy Jordan hit Unglaub (again!!!) on a 96-yard score that won the game 28-21.

It's difficult to put in perspective just how rare this feat was. FSU has only had 2 90-plus yard plays from scrimmage in the 33 years since this incredible stretch -- the one last night and Weinke to Minnis in 2000.

As a point of comparison, Auburn has only had one play from scrimmage of 90 yards or more in school history. Michigan has 5.

For Unglaub, the feat was equally breathtaking. Most wide receivers will go their entire career without having a 90-yard-plus pass play at ANY level -- pee wee, high school, college or pro. He had two in one month!

So, Ponder and Owens, the bar is set pretty high -- just need three more in the next two games and you'll match Thomas, Unglaub and Key!

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