TALLAHASSEE, FLA., DEC. 1 -- Florida State answered the critics and found its identity as a football team tonight while putting a damper on what had been a banner season for Florida.
With sophomore tailback Amp Lee running, senior wide receiver Lawrence Dawsey catching and junior quarterback Casey Weldon winging, the eighth-ranked Seminoles (9-2) finally put it to a quality opponent with a 45-30 victory over the sixth-ranked Gators at Doak Campbell Stadium.
The teams combined for nearly 1,000 yards in Florida State's fourth straight victory over Florida (9-2), matching its longest streak against its archrival.
"To be honest, I thought all along Florida was one of the best going in," Seminoles Coach Bobby Bowden said. "I just didn't want to tell anybody. We did everything we had to do and everything we were supposed to do."
More important, it was the Seminoles' first victory over a ranked team this season, following losses to Miami and Auburn and victories against the likes of Cincinnati and Memphis State.
Beginning with Weldon's 76-yard touchdown pass to Dawsey on the second play of the game, the Seminoles delighted a stadium-record 63,190. Florida State took leads of 10-0 and 24-10 in the first half, then put it away with two third-quarter touchdowns -- a two-yard run by junior fullback Edgar Bennett and a 16-yard burst by Lee, who rushed for a career-high 147 yards on 26 carries.
Lee also added a fourth-quarter score that gave him the second-most rushing touchdowns (16) in a single season in school history.
Lee and Bennett both had scored touchdowns in the second, Lee on a seven-yard pass from Weldon and Bennett on another two-yard plunge. Despite allowing Florida 351 yards passing, 485 total yards and 31 first downs, the Seminoles' defense had interceptions by safety John Wyche and linebacker Kirk Carruthers, a fumble recovery by Howard Dinkins and three sacks.
Florida quarterback Shane Matthews did what he could to rally the Gators. He completed 29 of 48 passes and threw for more than 300 yards for a school-record fifth time, hitting Ernie Mills and Kirk Kirkpatrick with scoring passes.
"Things didn't go our way in the first half," Matthews said. "We had an uphill battle and I felt like we fought hard. Things didn't go as we planned tonight, but we still had a heck of a year."
But the closest Florida could get in the second half was 38-24 early in the fourth quarter on Matthews's second touchdown. The Seminoles answered with Lee's two-yard run, set up by Weldon's 71-yard completion to Dawsey.