Two big name programs collided on December 3rd, 2005 as Florida State and Virginia Tech met at Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville for the first ever ACC Championship. The contest however, was expected to be one-sided.
“We were the underdog that game and we were like they’re still coming to us,” said then sophomore wide receiver De’Cody Fagg, who finished with three catches that night. “A lot of people ripping us didn’t mean anything.”
Virginia Tech entered with a 10-1 record and ranked fifth in the country while FSU was just 7-4 after dropping three straight games, including blowouts at the hands of Clemson and Florida. Despite being a 14-point underdog, the Seminoles would thoroughly dominate the Hokies in the third quarter to walk away with an unthinkable 27-22 victory.
“We just heard the hype about how good Virginia Tech was,” Fagg said. “They had Marcus Vick, a great receiving squad and their defense was awesome. We had a chip on our shoulder that whole week and we were going to go in and represent our home state.”
Each team managed just a field goal in the first half, but after the FSU defense got a stop early in the third quarter, a play on special teams would drastically shift momentum. Florida State senior Willie Reid fielded a Nic Schmitt punt at his own 17-yard-line, made one cut and raced 83 yards for a touchdown to put the Seminoles ahead 10-3.
Leon Washington doubled the FSU lead with a 14-yard touchdown run less than three minutes later. After a 41-yard field goal from Gary Cismesia made it 20-3, Seminoles’ quarterback Drew Weatherford found Chris Davis for a 6-yard score. By the time all was said and done, FSU had outscored the Hokies 24-0 in the third quarter to take a 27-3 lead into the final 15 minutes.
Virginia Tech quarterback Marcus Vick would account for three touchdowns in the final quarter, including two rushing, but a last ditch onside kick effort was recovered by FSU with under two minutes to play. The Seminoles proceeded to run out the clock to seal their 12th ACC title in 15 years.
Weatherford passed for 225 yards in the FSU victory, but it was the Florida State defense that was lights out. FSU forced a pair of turnovers, including an interception by Pat Watkins. Sophomore linebacker Lawrence Timmons had two of the six Seminole sacks.
“I couldn’t have given our defense any more credit,” said Fagg. “Ernie Sims and all those guys just did an awesome job containing Marcus Vick that game.”
Florida State would go on to fall to No. 3 Penn State in triple-overtime in the Orange Bowl a month later and it would be five years before FSU would make another appearance in the ACC Championship. It was 2012 before FSU would again claim a conference title, but winning the first ACC title game 10 years ago will forever be a distinction that belongs to the Seminoles.