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Updated: Saturday, November 23, 2002 8:55 PM EST
NCAA FOOTBALL RECAP
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No Carolina St 17, (14) Florida St 7
FLORIDA ST. SEMINOLES
Florida St. Seminoles
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NORTH CAROLINA ST. WOLFPACK
North Carolina St. Wolfpack
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RALEIGH, North Carolina (Ticker) -- Florida State has found its nemesis in the Atlantic Coast Conference.

Sparked by its defense and the running of T.A. McLendon, North Carolina State dominated on both sides of the ball in a 17-7 victory over the 14th-ranked Seminoles.

But despite the loss, the Seminoles won their 10th conference title since joining the league in 1992 when Maryland lost at Virginia.

By winning its latest conference crown, Florida State clinched a spot on the Bowl Championship Series, most likely the Orange Bowl.

The Wolfpack (10-3, 5-3 ACC), who became the first ACC team to beat the Seminoles in consecutive seasons, established a school record for wins in a season and snapped a three-game losing streak.

"I didn't think it was going to happen," North Carolina State coach Chuck Amato said. "It's even more unbelievable that we did it against Florida State. It's incredible to do it; to be 10-3 overall and 5-3 in the ACC."

Last season, Florida State had its nine-year reign as conference champions ended when the Wolfpack became the first ACC school to win at Tallahassee.

The Wolfpack's recent success in the series comes under third-year coach Chuck Amato, who was a long-time assistant under Bobby Bowden.

It was a dominating effort from the outset as North Carolina State held Florida State to under 100 total yards of offense until late in the fourth quarter. The Wolfpack also blocked three punts and registered two safeties in the fourth quarter.

McLendon, a true freshman, led the way on the ground by carrying 27 times for 114 yards and a touchdown.

The Seminoles got their only points in the second quarter when Michael Boulware returned a fumble 84 yards for a touchdown off a botched fake field goal.

Florida State finished with 177 total yards, the second-lowest output in Bowden's 325 games. The worst was 173 yards against Nebraska in 1986.

"We simply could not get anything done on offense," Bowden said. "Our quarterback struggled. We had people open and we missed them. We just didn't get it done."

"It was a great effort defensively, just a tremendous effort," Amato said. "It's a shame that it wouldn't go down as 17-0, but we'll take it."

Things were so bad for the Seminoles on offense that starting quarterback Adrian McPherson was benched late in the fourth quarter in place of Chris Rix.

McPherson, who had been 3-0 since replacing Rix as the starter, completed just 8-of-20 passes for 80 yards.

The Wolfpack did not have nearly the problems on offense behind McLendon and Philip Rivers, who completed 18-of-27 passes for 171 yards.

Rivers had struggled during the Wolfpack's losing streak that put a damper that starter with nine straight wins.

It looked like the Seminoles seized momentum in the fourth quarter. Leading 10-7, the Wolfpack went for it on 4th-and-goal from the 1, but Rivers failed to connect with tight end Sean Berton in the end zone.

But on the next play, the Seminoles were called for holding in the end zone, giving the Wolfpack a 12-7 lead with 9:53 remaining.

Jerricho Cotchery returned the ensuing free kick 49 yards, setting up Adam Kiker's 44-yard field goal that made it 15-7 with 7:36 to play.

Less than two minutes later, the Wolfpack got another big play on special teams when Manny Lawson blocked a punt out of the end zone for a safety.

On the game's opening possession, the Seminoles drove into field goal range, but after an illegal procedure penalty, McPherson was sacked twice to take his team out of field goal range.

The Wolfpack followed by blocking Chris Gwaltney's punt, leading to a 21-yard field goal by Adam Kiker.

Kiker was set to try a 37-yard field goal midway through the second quarter, but Amato called for a fake. The play blew up when holder Chris Young fumbled and Boulware returned it 84 yards for a touchdown, giving the Seminoles a 7-3 lead.

But the Wolfpack rebounded and took a 10-7 lead on McLendon's six-yard run with 1:25 left in the half.

North Carolina State held the ball for more than 19 minutes and limited Florida State to 64 total yards in the first half.


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