Tuesday, January 7, 2014
Florida State fans shouted and danced in raucous celebration after their top-ranked team roared back in the final seconds of the fourth quarter to beat Auburn in the BCS championship game.
Many pumped fists gleefully, hugged and slapped high fives in Tallahassee, Fla., after Jameis Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left as Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 on Monday night.
In Tallahassee, two machines rained streams of garnet and gold confetti down on thousands of fans who jumped and danced in a civic center where they had watched the game. For both sides, it was a tense finale after a game in which Auburn mostly had the first-half momentum.
In the end, Florida State fans erupted into thunderous cheering. Outside the arena, a group of fans who built a fire cheered after watching the game amid a bitter cold snap. Like many in the region, fans at Auburn and Florida State weather unseasonably bitter cold temperatures.
Tallahassee Police Officer David Northway said he had no reports of any major incidents by early Tuesday as celebrations dragged on into the wee hours.
"We had 25 officers brought in earlier in the evening to monitor the civic center," he said, adding police then fanned out to patrol around the campus as part of a contingency plan that had been in the works for weeks.
In Auburn, Ala., stunned fans emptied out of bars, some falling on their knees once the clock expired in Pasadena, Calif. Normally Auburn fans delight in festooning their celebration site, Toomer's Corner, with toilet paper. But one fan dejectedly tossed a single roll of paper in the street that was quickly picked up by a police officer.
For Auburn fans, it was a bitter moment after their team had taken a surprising 21-10 lead by the end of the first half.
Earlier, thousands of Auburn fans in orange and blue roared inside Auburn Arena, watching on a big video screen as Auburn under Nick Marshall racked up the first touchdowns. The fans shook and warmed the basketball coliseum with their energy — while outside temperatures hovered in the low 20s.
Auburn fan Kat Damron screamed Auburn's "War Eagle" battle cry and danced as the offense moved down the field toward the first Auburn touchdown. She was nearly hoarse by the end of the first half after Auburn scored further.
"War Damn Eagle 'til I die, baby, 'til I die," Damron said. "This is second best thing to being at the game. I would love to be in Pasadena right now."
With most of the South enduring a bitter unseasonable cold snap, many fans might have wished they were in balmy Pasadena, Calif., some 59 degrees and thousands of miles away, where the fight for the title was played out.
Meanwhile, a sizable crowd of Florida State fans gathered in the local civic center in Tallahassee, Fla., thundering at their initial 3-point field goal and a Florida State scoring run with 1:28 left in the half. FSU's Golden Girls danced when their team began scoring.
Some Florida State fans lamented that the early momentum wasn't with them at the outset. The Seminoles hadn't trailed in any game since late September.
"We need a lot of momentum and we're not getting it. That's not good," said Travis Hett, a 'born-and raised' Florida State fan after the half.
But he would not be disappointed as Florida State found its footing in the second half and muscled to victory.
Hopeful of holding the traditional Auburn victory celebration of rolling trees with toilet paper at Toomer's Corner after a win, friends Carlie McCall and Erica McDaniel watched the end of the game from a sidewalk looking into a bar through a window in Auburn.
Instead of cheering, the two both sank to their knees on the pavement when Florida State pulled out a win at the end. They said Florida State looked beaten earlier on.
"They looked like that had it, and I guess (FSU coach Jimbo Fisher) went in that locker room and something to say at the halftime and they won it," said McCall, of Jacksonville, Fla.
"We're still Auburn family," said McDaniel, of Alexander City, Ala.
Reeves reported from Auburn, Ala., and Phil Sears from Tallahassee, Fla.