JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Bobby Bowden watched the clock run down to :00, then took his last walk to midfield as his Florida State players jumped up and down, thrusting their helmets into the air.
The coach went out a winner, carried off by the Seminoles.
Jermaine Thomas ran for two touchdowns, Florida State scored 20 straight points to take control and the Seminoles knocked off No. 18 West Virginia 33-21 on Friday at the Gator Bowl in the final game of Bowden’s storied 44-year career as a head coach.
"I will not forget it. I won’t forget the other ones we have here, too,” said Bowden, his hands wrapped around the silver Gator Bowl trophy. "Nothing like a win.”
Bowden finished with a 389-129-4 record, and most importantly to him, a 33rd consecutive winning season. Next week, Jimbo Fisher takes over at Florida State, which finished 7-6 for the third time in the last four years.
With 1:39 left, Bowden trotted down to the Florida State band section, removed his autographed white cap and tossed it into the seats — and the celebration began. When it was over, Bowden was surrounded by a wall of photographers while trying to make his way over to shake the hand of West Virginia coach Bill Stewart — who was a 177-pound walk-on for Bowden’s first Mountaineers team in 1970.