79 Days Until FSU Football: Ward to Dunn 79-Yard Touchdown Silences the Gators

Warrick Dunn silences the Gators
Warrick Dunn races downfield.

79 days remain between now and the start of Florida State’s 2018 football season. As part of the offseason, we’re doing a countdown that highlights players, games, and specific moments from Florida State football history.

On Friday, the focus was on former wide receiver Rashad Greene, who wore No. 80 during his incredible FSU career.

Today, it’s the 79-yard touchdown from Charlie Ward to Warrick Dunn in the 1993 contest vs. Florida.

The Seminoles had retaken the No. 1 ranking just two weeks after their loss to No. 2 Notre Dame. The only thing that stood between Florida State and a shot at a first national championship was the No. 7 ranked Florida Gators in The Swamp. Led by Danny Wuerffel and a prolific Steve Spurrier offense, the Gators knew they could simultaneously ruin Florida State’s season and potentially boost their own.

It was another classic contest between the two schools. Florida State held the advantage for almost the entire game, but Florida hung around and kept it close all the way into the fourth quarter. After a couple of miscues by the Florida State offense, the Gators were able to drive 94 yards and narrow what was once a 27-7 FSU lead to 27-21 with under six minutes to go.

Some say they have never heard the Swamp get as loud as it did on the ensuing FSU possession. Florida State now had to try and put the game away while fighting against a rejuvenated defense and a roaring crowd.

Eventual Heisman Trophy winning quarterback Charlie Ward and the offense faced a 3rd-and-10 deep in their own territory after his first two passes were batted down. FSU head coach Bobby Bowden and staff called a play action fake to the left side, which looked like it was doomed from the start as the defense broke through.

But Ward evaded a pair of defenders as he rolled out to his left, and then dropped a soft pass into freshman running back Warrick Dunn’s arms on the left sideline. Dunn took the pass, and thanks to a good block from receiver Tamarick Vanover, raced down the sidelines for a 79-yard touchdown and a 33-21 FSU lead.

ABC commentators Keith Jackson and Bob Griese echoed the sentiment felt by most observers: the 79-yard touchdown encapsulated everything that made Ward the Heisman favorite. The incredible movement in the pocket, the poise under pressure, and the play-making ability all but sealed up the award and FSU’s chance to play for a national title.

It was also the beginning of a prolific career for Dunn, who made a splash as a true freshman. He would go on to become one of the greatest running backs in Florida State history and end his career as the school’s all-time leading rusher.

The Seminoles would hold on for a 33-21 victory that locked up their appearance in the national championship against the Nebraska Cornhuskers in the Orange Bowl. They would go on to win 18-16 and capture the program’s first national title.

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