Rix's rebirth saves FSU

Florida State quarterback Chris Rix scrambles down field in the second quarter of the Seminole's win.

(MICHAEL C. WEIMAR/The Gainesville Sun)
Published: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Sunday, December 1, 2002 at 2:32 a.m.
TALLAHASSEE - Late in the third quarter Saturday, Florida State quarterback Chris Rix barreled through Florida's sideline and crashed into the training table.
The fall was anything but pretty. Rix tumbled over the table and caused a collective gasp from the crowd at Doak Campbell Stadium.
Rix was fine, and more importantly, he had the first down.
Rix entered the season as a Heisman Trophy candidate, but found himself benched in October after losses to Louisville, Miami and Notre Dame.
It wasn't until Adrian McPherson was kicked off the team earlier this week that Rix would regain the starting nod. If the sophomore quarterback wasn't exactly brimming with confidence entering Saturday night's game against Florida, it would have been easy to understand.
He completed 13-of-29 passes for 194 yards and two touchdowns Saturday, but he was most effective running the ball (14 for 83 yards). The Florida defense had fits trying to contain Rix, who continuously turned broken plays into first downs. Rix was the best aspect of the Florida State offense and was the biggest reason why the Seminoles were able to put a pretty severe beating on the Gators.
Rix's passing numbers were hardly anything to jump up about, but while his throws didn't produce mind-numbing statistics, it did give Florida State its biggest win of the year and a reason it can head to the Bowl Championship Series with a hint of pride after four losses.
It was on the Seminoles' first drive that Rix broke through the Florida defense for a 25-yard run that helped set up Florida State's first score of the game.
He proved he could move the ball by air or ground later in the second quarter when he hit Anquan Boldin for a 22-yard touchdown that began to put some serious space between the Seminoles and the Gators.
Early in the fourth quarter, Rix killed any thoughts Florida had about a comeback when he hit Boldin again for a touchdown that gave Florida State a 31-14 lead.
While the Florida defense has been the most consistent aspect for the Gators this season, it had fits trying to stop Rix, a quarterback who many thought was done after his early-season struggles.
Now thanks to a teammate's arrest and a season-saving victory over Florida, Rix may enter next season as revered as he was at the beginning of this one.
You can reach Dylan B. Tomlinson by calling 374-5054 or by e-mail at tomlind@gvillesun.com

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