Date: September 20, 1997
Location: Memorial Stadium, aka Death Valley; Clemson, South Carolina
Opponent: No. 16 Clemson Tigers
Most Seminole fans are quite familiar with why Peter Warrick’s jersey will be retired this Labor Day night. But for anyone who didn’t experience the excitement of seeing P-Dub in Garnet and Gold, the last two weeks of this countdown should be giving you plenty of insight into why number 9 is joining the likes of Deion Sanders, Warrick Dunn, Terrell Buckley, and Ron Sellers. This is the legendary wide receiver’s fourth play since July 22nd.
Eleven days ago, Tomahawk Nation’s Courteney Korosec featured one of those plays from the 1997 Clemson game where Warrick announced his candidacy for most exciting player in college football. For today’s play we travel back to Death Valley just a bit further, less than four minutes of game time prior to his victory sealing catch and run.
Coming into the 1997 season, Warrick wasn’t exactly a known quantity on the national scene. The redshirt sophomore flashed ankle-breaking potential with 467 yards and 4 touchdowns on just 22 receptions the year prior, but the star receiver on the team was All-American senior E.G. Green. In fact, most of the hype surrounding Peter Warrick in Tallahassee came from the whispers about him and Randy Moss dominating the first team defense as a practice-squad duo in 1995.
After a mostly quiet start to the season against USC, Warrick grabbed two second half touchdown passes during a 50-7 blowout win against over-matched Maryland, both from backup QB Dan Kendra. But if FSU was to become an elite offense in year 1 AWD (After Warrick Dunn), his teammates needed more than garbage time touchdowns from its number two receiver. They needed him to turn his vast reservoir of potential into electrifying reality.
Ask and you shall receive.
Having already put FSU in front 21-14 late in the third quarter with a 48-yard touchdown catch, Warrick dropped deep for a punt return early in the 4th with the Seminoles’ lead having been cut to four. Driven back to his own 10 yard line, Warrick ran right, turned the corner, cut back across the field, blew by the punter, picked up a helpful (if not the prettiest) block from Troy Saunders and raced into the endzone. It’s the second longest punt return in FSU history.
Florida State would go on to win the game 35-28, with Warrick scoring FSU’s final three touchdowns. Courteney already ran down the list of stats piled up by P-Dub that September afternoon, but one number that’s worth repeating is his 372 all-purpose yards on the day. We’ll take a look at Warrick’s staggering career numbers a few weeks from now, as this won’t be his last play featured in the countdown. Heck, it’s not even the last punt return in Death Valley featured in the countdown.
For now, just wax nostalgically about the day Peter Warrick burst onto the college football scene.