Date: November 26th, 1988
Location: Doak Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, Florida.
Opponent: Florida Gators
Another day in the countdown and the second play from that 1988 victory over the Gators is in. The first being Lawrence Dawsey stunting all over Florida’s secondary. What better way to bookend a rival beatdown than involve another esteemed Seminole legend and coach.
Why, we’re talking about FSU’s all-time most winning coach(by percentage), and newest member of the school’s Hall of Fame, junior Nose Tackle #53 Odell Haggins.
But it’s not about Odell, it’s about the Senior Day game vs. the unranked Gators.
On the heels of Dawsey’s opening score, FSU’s 18 scholarship seniors never left off the gas pedal, hitting the locker room up 24-10 at half, then pouring it on in the 3rd quarter. After 2 quick Nole touchdowns, Florida got the ball back down 38-10 and clinging to life(you can’t come back from down 28 against your rival in Doak, right? Wait). Nole fans were in full-on Chomp Mock Mode, hungry for the kill shot. Gator quarterback Kyle Morris’ play action pass on 1st down was deflected by defensive lineman Anthony Moss(Morris got Moss’d before getting Moss’d was a thing), and into the not-so-gentle arms of Haggins.
Unlike Matthew Thomas, Odell Haggins prioritizes scoring defensive touchdowns against the Gators, dragging Morris the final 5 yards into the end zone, surviving a flying horse collar tackle attempt by a UF running back(before horse collaring was a thing). In the running back’s defense, Odell’s big neck roll was as inviting as a subway handle grip on a sharp turn.
After a comically extensive dog pile, Haggins sprinted 50 yards sans helmet to celebrate the dagger play in front of the raucous record crowd of 62,693(before celebration penalties were a thing).
But it’s not about Odell, it’s about the insurmountable 35 point lead.
Announcer and fellow living FSU legend Lee Corso proclaimed that “Haggins, #53 is gonna run all the way back to Bartow, which is about 150 miles from here!”. Bartow, Florida is actually 150 miles from Gainesville rather than Tallahassee, but the imagery was spot on. This was perhaps Odell’s most exciting moment at Doak Campbell Stadium until his triumphant, cathartic day as interim head coach 29 years and 6 days later vs. Louisiana-Monroe.
It’s well documented that Odell loves FSU, and Doak loves Odell right back.
But it’s not about Odell, it’s about the 52-17 victory and most lopsided win in FSU-UF history.
Following the Pick 6, future NFL Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith had been held under 50 yards rushing, and Kyle Morris was 4 of 11 for 40 yards and 2 INT. But things would get worse, as Morris was later KO’d by FSU safety Stan Shiver, a play later memorialized on a “Lights Out!” poster popular among the fan base.
Heading into his 25th season as a member of the Florida State staff, Haggins’ coaching career is markedly similar to his playing days in Tallahassee: Dependable, hard working, passionate, quietly excellent. Odell netted 16.5 career sacks from his unsung, undersized nose tackle position, with All-American accolades sprinkled throughout.
It’s not about Odell...
But on November 26th, 1988 it was.