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Football flashback: Puntrooskie led FSU to upset of Clemson in ’88

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Even after all these years, the thing that stands out is the sheer audacity it took to call the play. Even now, the boldness of it all is amazing.

The puntrooskie.

Do you believe it yet?

It was 1988, and Florida State was on the road against the Clemson Tigers, who were ranked third in the AP. FSU was 10th. It was late it the game, and the score was tied at 21. The Seminoles had a fourth-and-one at their own 21 with 1:21 left to play.

And then Bobby Bowden made a call for the ages.

He called a puntrooskie, a gamble that gave FSU a chance to win but almost certainly guaranteed a Clemson victory if it failed. As the ball was snapped, punter Tim Corlew lept as if the ball had sailed over his head. Instead, it was snapped to up back Dayne Williams, who handed it to LeRoy Butler between his legs.

Butler ran 78 yards down the left sideline to the 4, setting up Richie Andrews’ winning 19-yard field goal with 32 seconds left to play.

“If we miss it, they’re going to kick a field goal and win,” Bowden said. “I just wanted someone to win the game.”

Announcer Beano Cook later said the puntrooskie was “the prettiest play since My Fair Lady.”

FSU finished that season with an 11-1 record, ranked No. 3 in the country behind Alabama and Miami.

Gary Shelton is one of the most recognized and honored sportswriters in the history of the state. He has won the APSE's national columnist of the year twice and finished in the top 10 eight times. He was named the Florida Sportswriter of the Year six times. Gary joined SaintPetersBlog in the spring, helping to bring a sports presence to the website. Over his time in sports writing, Gary has covered 29 Super Bowls, 10 Olympics, Final Fours, Masters, Wimbledons and college national championships. He was there when the Bucs won a Super Bowl, when the Lightning won a Stanley Cup and when the Rays went to a World Series. He has seen Florida, FSU and Miami all win national championships, and he covered Bear Bryant, Bobby Bowden and Don Shula along the way. He and his wife Janet have four children: Eric, Kevin, K.C. and Tori. To contact, visit garysheltonsports@gmail.com.

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