Florida State edges out Auburn in thriller

Tue Jan 7, 2014 2:07pm EST
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By Mark Lamport-Stokes

PASADENA, California (Reuters) - The top-ranked Florida State Seminoles completed the biggest ever comeback to win college football's national championship with a wild 34-31 victory over No. 2 Auburn in the title game on Monday.

The Seminoles were outplayed by the Tigers early on and trailed 21-3 late in the second quarter before capping a stunning rally with a two-yard touchdown by wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin with only 13 seconds remaining.

There were three changes of lead in the dizzying last four-and-a-half minutes, each one appearing to be the decisive score in an epic finale to the BCS National Championship, one of the showpiece events in U.S. sport.

Florida State, a perfect 13-0 in the regular season, appeared to have the game won after wide receiver Kermit Whitfield surged down the left sideline for a 100-yard kick return, his touchdown putting his team ahead 27-24.

However, Auburn regained control with just 79 seconds remaining when running back Tre Mason rushed for a 37-yard touchdown and the Tigers defense initially held firm under intense pressure from the Seminoles.

Again, though, Florida State countered, Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Jameis Winston finding Benjamin in the end zone for his decisive touchdown after a seven-play drive over 80 yards.

"I said this from Day One in spring ball, these kids are special," Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher said after his team had claimed the winners' crystal football at a packed Rose Bowl Stadium.

"This group never faltered. They wanted to be elite. They wanted to go to the top and there's so much character in this group."   Continued...

Florida State Seminoles Kelvin Benjamin celebrates after catching the game winning touchdown pass agasinst the Auburn Tigers in the fourth quarter during the BCS Championship football game in Pasadena, California January 6, 2014. REUTERS/Mike Blake