65-Year Nole Anniversary: FSU Holds Off Undefeated Mississippi Southern on Failed PAT

Photo provided by Garnet and Great/Florida State archivist

Florida State and Southern Mississippi have met just once in the last 25 years, but the teams have a pretty extended history. Over the years, the two schools have played 23 times.

The most memorable contest was probably Brett Favre and the Golden Eagles upsetting a top-5 FSU team in Jacksonville in 1989. That however, isn’t the closest contest in the series.

Two of those meetings have been 1-point games. That includes the one that took place on this day 65 years ago as a botched extra point helped the Seminoles hold off the program then known as Mississippi Southern, 20-19.

Setting the Stage

FSU was looking to clinch a winning season as it arrived at home on Nov. 17, 1956. The Seminoles were 4-3-1 for the season. The home team had won the last three in the series.

Mississippi Southern was a perfect 7-0 and had allowed just 39 points all season. FSU however, would present a new challenge.

FSU Survives

FSU actually never trailed in the contest, but Mississippi Southern wouldn’t let the Seminoles cruise. Florida State raced to a 13-0 first-quarter lead, thanks to a 38-yard interception return for a touchdown by Buck Metts and a touchdown pass from Len Swantic to Jerry Philp.

The Southerners however, had an answer. Quarterback Doug Barfield rushed for touchdowns in the second and third quarters to even the score.

FSU however, would go ahead for good in the fourth on Swantic’s second touchdown pass of the day. An 11-yard strike to Bobby Renn gave FSU a 20-13 lead, but after a turnover later in the quarter gave Mississippi Southern the ball in Seminole territory, the visitors had one final scoring march.

After a long pass from Bobby Hughes to Donnie Waits put the ball on the FSU 1-yard-line, Hughes found the end zone on a keeper. Kicker Johnny Shepherd came out to try to tie the game with an extra point, but an errant snap doomed the Southerners. The snap was high and the holder was swarmed by the Seminoles.

Mississippi Southern would get one last possession, but could only muster a pair of incomplete passes. For the first time all season, the Southerners had been defeated.

In Hindsight

The victory for FSU would be its final win of the season. The Seminoles finished 5-4-1 after a season-ending loss to Auburn.

Mississippi Southern would not win another game. After tying Alabama, it fell to West Texas State to end the season.

The victory guaranteed that the Seminoles would finish .500 or better for the fourth straight season. It came by a single point on this day 65 years ago.


Tampa Bay Times

Mike Ferguson is the managing editor for Fifth Quarter. Be sure to follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeWFerguson. Follow all of Mike’s work by liking his Facebook page.