The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

January 7, 2014

Winston leads top-ranked Florida State over Auburn

(Continued)

Winston struggled much of the night but was near perfect when the Seminoles (14-0) needed it most, going 6 for 7 for 77 yards on the last drive.

"It was the best football game he's played all year," Fisher said of Winston, "and I'll tell you why, because for three quarters he was up and down and he fought."

Winston was 20 for 35 for 237 yards and two fourth-quarter touchdown passes on his 20th birthday. He zipped the Seminoles down the field on the final drive, with a 49-yard catch and run from Rashad Greene.

"I was ready," Winston said. "I wanted to be in that situation because that's what great quarterbacks do. That's what the Tom Bradys, Peyton Mannings, Drew Brees, that's what they do."

Florida State also got help from Auburn. A pass interference penalty in the end zone on Chris Davis on third-and-8 from the 10 gave Florida State a first down at the 2.

"Thought it was great defense. That's all I can say," Davis said, adding, the officials "should have just let us play."

On the next play Winston threw high to the 6-foot-5 Benjamin for the touchdown.

"Once the ball is in the air on that post route, I've got to go get it, and I did," Benjamin said. "Simple as that."

There was no miracle finish this time for the turnaround Tigers, who went from 3-9 to SEC champions in their first season under coach Gus Malzahn. They tossed the ball around on one final play, but it ended with Florida State jumping on a fumble, and the Seminoles sprinting onto the field under a storm of garnet and gold confetti.

Florida State scored 21 points in the fourth quarter, and the teams combined for 24 in a breathtaking last 4:42.

"It felt storybook again," Auburn defensive tackle Gabe Wright said. "It really felt like we were going to bring it out again. We're just on the other end of the stick. It's usually us going out on the field and celebrating. It's been a long time since we had an 'L' in this locker room."

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