Seminoles' special teams make a difference

Wednesday, January 5th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Virginia Tech's special teams have made news all season. Florida State's special teams were big news in the post season. Two special teams touchdowns and a field goal were the difference as the top-ranked Seminoles closed out their first perfect season with a 46-29 Sugar Bowl victory. They also stopped one fake field goal and one fake punt by Virginia Tech, and Tommy Polley blocked a punt late in the first quarter that Jeff Chaney recovered and ran in for a touchdown.

Peter Warrick's 59-yard punt return for a touchdown was the longest punt return given up by Virginia Tech since Frank Beamer became coach in 1987, and the first for a touchdown since 1988. Virginia Tech came into the game thinking if special teams play made a difference, it would be to their advantage. The Hokies led the nation with 63 blocked kicks in the 1990s, a style that earned the nickname "Beamer Ball." Their defense and special teams combined for 57 touchdowns, including eight this season. Florida State, by comparison, had 26 blocked kicks in the decade.

MOORE IS LESS: Corey Moore, the Virginia Tech defensive star that cursed at reporters and walked out on interviews during Media Day, then didn't show up for another session, was not as much a factor in the game. Moore, who had a Big East-record 17 sacks this season and wonthe Bronko Nagurski Award as the nation's top defender and the Lombardi Award as the top lineman, had one tackle in the game, and it came on the first play. He also forced a fumble by Chris Weinkeon Florida State's first play of the third quarter that pushed the Seminoles back to their 6-yard line.

HOW DO YOU BEAT THAT GUY? Virginia Tech is now 0-13 against Bobby Bowden. The Hokies are also one of 55 schools that have never beaten the Florida State coach.

CLINTON CALLING: President Clinton called both Florida State coach Bobby Bowden and Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer after the game. "When he takes time to call the team that lost, it shows that he really admired the way this football team played all year, and I appreciate that a lot," Beamer said.

HALFTIME PAYOFF: Robert Moderhak is going to find retirement a bit cushier after picking up $500,000 during a halftime contest at the Sugar Bowl. Moderhak, 54, turned out to be as good a passer as former NFL quarterback Joe Theismann. Theismann completed one of four passes --each worth $50,000 -- hitting a 2-foot by 2-foot opening from 15 yards. Then Moderhak stepped up and sent his only attempt through the hole, adding a zero to the winnings and upping his winnings to a half-million dollars. Moderhak, a retired school administrator from Longmont, Colo., who recently moved to Holmes Beach, Fla., pumped his fist in the air after hitting the pass, then hugged his wife, Sue, and Theismann. "Although I still have four years of college eligibility left, I think I will stick with my retirement in Florida," Moderhak said.

THAT NUMBER: The 79,280 people attending the Sugar Bowl was the largest crowd to ever watch a football game in the Superdome. The largest crowd to ever attend any event in the dome was 87,500 who watched a Rolling Stones concert there in 1981.

PLAYING HURT: Virginia Tech split end Ricky Hall, despite a broken bone in his left foot, was in for two plays in the first half.