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The top 100 FSU football plays: No. 93 — Scott Bentley hawks down Hall of Famer Brian Dawkins to preserve Clemson shutout

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Florida State’s freshman kicker makes big impression in Doak debut.

Here comes the....
Sports Illustrated: August 29th, 1993

Date: September 11, 1993

Location: Doak S. Campbell Stadium, Tallahassee, FL

Opponent: Clemson

How the heck did an extra point play in a historic blowout make this prestigious list? Why, it’s symbolism, my dear Watson. Where to begin?

Fresh off the goal line stand shutout in sweltering East Rutherford (42-0 over Kansas), and a super-soaked smashing in a Durham deluge (45-7 over Duke), the top-ranked Seminoles returned to Tallahassee to face No. 17 Clemson. This was the first game played in FSU’s brand new gothic cathedral of brick following the major expansion to Doak Campbell Stadium.

And speaking of shiny new toys, this was also Doak’s first look at their Sports Illustrated cover boy Scott Bentley, summoned from Colorado to exorcise the Noles’ placekicking demons.

In the midst of Clemson’s worst defeat in 62 years(57-0), the Noles go ahead 16-0 on a scintillating 78-yard Kentucky Derby connection between backup Danny Kanell & tight end Lonnie Johnson in the 3rd quarter. Bentley’s PAT is blocked by the Tigers’ Brian Dawkins, who scooped the bouncing ball and took off down the left sideline. In the scramble, William Floyd ping-ponged his kicker teammate Three Stooges-style toward midfield as the future Hall of Famer Hawkins cruised toward Clemson’s first two points of the game.

(Hi, I’m Williams Floyd! You may remember me from previous extra point plays such as No. 98 in our countdown.)

Then in a foreshadowing flash of brilliance, young Bentley surges across the field to form tackle Dawkins from behind at the 13 yard line. Instant heart throb Bentley overcame more than 10 yards of head start to make the play and electrify the Doak faithful.

Floyd misdirects right, Bentley tracks back hard left
Youtube

Bentley had already drilled a 47-yard field goal earlier in the first half, and the shutout-saving tackle frenzied the crowd even further. But were they surprised? If they read the August 1993 Sports Illustrated article on Scott Bentley, he was merely meeting his lofty expectations.

After he had said thanks but no thanks to Nebraska, Cornhusker coach Tom Osborne flew out to Colorado to meet him anyway. Come here, Miami had told Bentley, and you can kick and play receiver. In all, more than 90 schools had offered him scholarships. By January he had narrowed his choices down to Florida State and Notre Dame. The Seminoles had greeted him as if he were a soccer-style kicking messiah, the missing link to the national championship that has so long eluded them. Fighting Irish head coach Lou Holtz, meanwhile, had promised Bentley the starting kicker’s and punter’s jobs for four years. Bentley’s father, Bob—Notre Dame, class of ‘67—had told him to listen to Holtz.

Well, did he think he could kick it out of the end zone?

Bentley’s response to Amato has become part of his growing legend: “Probably. But if I don’t, I’ll make the tackle.”

......

For the scores of college football recruiters who courted Bentley, Overland coach Tony Manfredi had this advice: “Don’t treat him like a kicker. Treat him like a football player, or you’ll lose him.”

Seminole coach Bobby Bowden grasped that. Holtz did not. “You’ll only have to practice for a half hour,” Holtz told Bentley. “Then you can go and play golf.”

”I don’t want to play golf,” says Bentley. “I want to run 40’s with [Seminole wide receiver] Tamarick Vanover.”

-Austin Murphy, Sports Illustrated: August 29th, 1993 “A Sure Three”

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Thanks to Bentley, the second of three shutouts in FSU’s first five games was preserved. The anointed kicker cemented his place in Nole fans’ hearts. And the season of destiny had another memorable play enscribed into its storybook.