JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Ticker) -- Just as the memories of Peter Warrick had eased, Florida State's Javon Walker has provided Virginia Tech cornerback Ronyell Whitaker with a whole new set of nightmares.
Walker caught four passes for a career-high 195 yards and freshman Chris Rix engineered three fourth-quarter scoring drives as No. 24 Florida State salvaged a disappointing season by its standards with a 30-17 triumph over 16th-ranked Virginia Tech in the Gator Bowl.
Walker had three of his catches in the final quarter, twice victimizing Whitaker, who was burned by Warrick for a crucial touchdown in the last meeting between the teams -- the 2000 national championship game.
"We handled Walker until the fourth quarter," Whitaker said. "It was all on me. The guy made a good play. I take all the blame on the deep ball. If I say I messed up, I know the reason we lost was me. And I told them in the locker room that we lost the game because it was my fault."
Warrick had six catches for 163 yards in that game, in which Whitaker was a freshman.
"There's no comparison," Whitaker said. "Walker is a good player, but Peter Warrick is so knowledgeable about the game. ... I played one of the worst games that I ever played (today). I never thought that it would happen."
That season was nearly perfect for the Seminoles (8-4), who suffered through a four-loss season for the first time since 1986. But this season ended with promise as Rix, the ACC Freshman of the Year, rallied the squad to victory.
Trailing, 17-13, entering the final 15 minutes, Rix found Walker for a 77-yard scoring strike down the right sideline on the first play of the quarter. He used another long pass to Walker to set up a 35-yard field goal by Xavier Beitia and capped his big day with a 23-yard TD pass to Walker with 2:14 to go.
Rix finished 12-of-25 for 326 yards and Greg Jones added 120 yards on 23 carries for Florida State.
The win was the 323 for Seminoles coach Bobby Bowden and moved him into a tie with Paul "Bear" Bryant for second on the all-time Division I-A wins list. Penn State coach Joe Paterno passed Bryant earlier this year to become the all-time leader and has 327 wins.
"I tried to sell the players on the fact that we're FSU all week," Bowden said. "We haven't looked like it this year. We haven't gotten the respect we have had this year. I told them to play like they are Florida State and they did."
The win was the 400th in school history.
Virginia Tech (8-4) finished the season with consecutive losses.
Grant Noel was 15-of-27 for 269 yards and a touchdown for the Hokies. Andre Davis caught five of those passes for 158 yards.
Virginia Tech opened the scoring on its first possession. Noel found tight end Bob Slowikowski for 16 yards and freshman Kevin Jones ran three times for 17 yards, setting up a 36-yard field goal by Carter Warley 4:04 into the contest The Hokies appeared poised to put some more points on the board midway through the quarter but Noel fumbled at the Florida State 32 and the Seminoles recovered.
The game remained 3-0 midway through the second quarter when Marcello Church blocked a punt by Vinnie Burns and Ryan Reynolds recovered the loose ball at the Virginia Tech 1. Rix cashed in on the next play, leaping over the line for a 7-3 advantage.
Beitia made it 10-3 with 86 seconds left in the quarter, converting a 50-yarder. It was the longest field goal for the freshman kicker, who closed the season with 11 straight successful attempts.
Florida State outscored opponents, 142-64, in the second quarter this season.
Kevin Jones, who was held to 55 yards on 23 carries, did key the Hokies' drive to open the second. He carried four times on the possession before scoring from five yards out on the ninth play of the drive.
With the scored knotted, 10-10, the teams traded empty possessions. But Beitia put the Seminoles ahead with a 47-yard goal with 1:42 to go in the quarter.
Virginia Tech answered nearly immediately, using a 38-yard kickoff return by Richard Johnson and 55-yard scoring strike from Noel to Davis to take the lead.
The Hokies' 17-13 lead did not last long as Rix found Walker down the right sideline on the first play of the fourth quarter. Rix clearly beat Whitaker on the play and cut across the field with the longest scoring reception of his career.
Virginia Tech saw its next possession stall at the Florida State 32 and five plays later Beitia banked a 35-yard field goal off the left upright and through for a 23-17 lead with 10:13 remaining.
The Hokies had another drive stall in Floirda territory and the Seminoles appeared ready to run out the clock behind Greg Jones. But on 1-and-10 from the Virginia Tech 23, Rix lobbed a 23-yard toss that Walker ran under for a 30-17 lead.
The 195 yards in a bowl game set a school record, eclipsing the 192 yards Fred Biletnikoff had in the 1965 Gator Bowl.
"This win meant a lot going back into next semester," Bowden said. "They got the ship headed back in the right direction. To win your last game is always good for moral and momentum for the next spring."