Another slow start for top-ranked Florida State, another come-from-behind victory. And this time, it was the same guy who made the early going hopeful for Virginia who wound up spoiling the Cavaliers' aspirations.
Chris Weinke shook off three first-half interceptions with three touchdown passes, including the go-ahead throw to Marvin Minnis in the third quarter Saturday night, as the Seminoles rallied for an easy 35-10 victory at Virginia.
"We stopped ourselves. They didn't stop us," Weinke said.
"Without the three interceptions early on, we would have put a lot more pressure on them," he said. "We gave them confidence in the first half. Without me giving them the ball three extra times, we dominate the whole football game."
Weinke finished 24-of-35 for 297 yards with three touchdowns, including a 4-yarder to Minnis for the Seminoles' first first-half touchdown in three games.
Still, coach Bobby Bowden said he's concerned about the slow starts.
"It scares me, but as long as they end up like they ended up, I can survive, I guess," Bowden said after career victory No. 301. "It's funny. You look at the score and you say, `Yeah, boy, they're number one.' But gosh, you look at the first half and you say `Gee, I don't know whether they are number one or not."'
Weinke's go-ahead pass to Minnis with 3:16 left in the quarter was the second scoring hookup for the pair and gave the Seminoles (9-0, 7-0 ACC) a 14-10 lead. They padded that 2:46 later when Travis Minor scored on a 6-yard burst.
Two fourth-quarter touchdowns capped the scoring for the Seminoles. One was a 50-yard pass to Peter Warrick that was highlight film material.
Warrick, held in check to that point, took the short pass in the right flat and outran and outdanced several defenders, finally breaking free with a cut to the left side that left all of them in position to watc him score.
Warrick finished with six catches for 81 yards. Ron Dugans had six for 84.
Virginia (4-4, 3-3), which led 10-7 at halftime, lost quarterback Dan Ellis when he was hit hard on consecutive plays at the end of the first half. Coach George Welsh said his junior starter sustained a concussion and was dazed.
"In the first half, I think we wanted the game more than them," said Virginia tailback Thomas Jones, who rushed for 164 yards on 26 carries with a touchdown. "In the second half, they made some big plays and we didn't make enough."
Ellis was 7-of-14 for 44 yards in the half, and junior David Rivers struggled mightily in the first extensive playing time of his career. Rivers was 4-of-11 for 32 yards and threw a costly interception to Corey Simons at the Virginia 27, setting up the Seminoles' third touchdown.
"I don't know whether it made a difference or not," Welsh said of the change at quarterback. "I don't think we did a good job of blocking them anyway."
Jones' night included a 71-yard run the longest against Florida State this season and ended with him atop Virginia's career rushing list.
The run moved Jones past Tiki Barber, who finished with 3,389 yards in 1996. Jones has 3,473.
Jones had 113 yards on 14 carries by halftime, making him the first back to do that against the Seminoles in 24 games, and added 51 yards in the second half.
"I definitely would have rather gotten the record on a good note," he said.
Virginia failed to capitalize on interceptions by Byron Thweatt and Jerton Evans in the first half, and stayed in the game until the fourth quarter largely because of a fumble by backup quarterback Marcus Outzen that prevented another touchdown.
Trailing 10-7, the Seminoles were facing second-and-goal at the 2 when Outzen replaced Weinke and tried to sneak the ball in. But Outzen was hit on the play and coughed up the ball, Ljubomir Stamenich recovering for the Cavaliers.
Virginia's halftime lead came on a 26-yard field goal by Todd Braverman with 2:21 left. Jones set it up with his 71-yard run down the left sideline. He juked around Clevan Thomas to break free and was run down at the 13 by Derrick Gibson.
Jones also scored the game's first points on a 16-yard run with 12:04 left in the second quarter. The touchdown was set up by Dwayne Stukes' interception of Weinke's pass intended for Anquan Boldin at the 20 and 9-yard return.
Florida State tied it 6:42 later on Weinke's 4-yard pass to Minnis. The third-down pass capped a 14-play, 91-yard drive that had three third-down conversions, including passes of 8 and 9 yards to Dugans that moved the chains.
©1999 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed