Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Heisman for Jameis Winston

I've been watching Jameis play all year.  In the first half of the year, he was the most accurate passer I've ever seen.  Going into the fourth game of the season, the popular stat was that he had more touchdowns than incompletions!  In the latter part of the season he at least showed himself mortal by throwing a few interceptions, but still maintained the highest QBR in the country.  Here's a montage of Jameis Winston photos from the past year.  Click on the links to see more photos from the individual games.

Did you know Jameis is a two sport athlete at FSU?  Here he is wearing the 44 of Hammerin' Hank Aaron, pitching in relief against Georgia Tech last spring.


I don't think anyone had a clue during the 2013 Spring game that Jameis would be sitting on a New York stage in eight short months.



The clues starting coming in the first game of the season, Pitt on Monday Night Football.  Winston was scary accurate in his passing, and incredibly athletic, here out front blocking for Devonte Freeman.


In the first home game of the year against Nevada, Jameis had to prove that Pitt was no accident.  He did that and then some.


Against Bethune Cookman, people started noticing Winston's easy-going personality, and he continued his unbelievable completion percentage streak to start the year.


The foot didn't come off the accelerator against Maryland.  The Noles string of lopsided victories continued in dramatic fashion with a huge shutout of the Terps.


Everyone was interested to see how Jameis would hold up against a top 10 opponent.  Clemson was up next and drew the ESPN College Gameday show to Clemson, SC.  Even with Lee Corso picking FSU, I don't think anyone anticipated the outcome of this game!  Here's Winston warming up against a backdrop of Clemson orange.


After Clemson, the Noles looked for revenge from last year's loss to NC State.  They got it handily.



Next up was much vaunted (at the time) Miami, and the bitter rivalry that always accompanies playing the Hurricanes.  Once again, Lee Corso and company came for the pregame show.  The national press really started taking notice of Jameis along about this time, and for good reason.  Winston's stats through this point in the season were absolutely obscene!


Wake Forest didn't prove to be much of a test as Winston continued to dominate the ACC, and the country.


FSU wrapped up their ACC schedule at home against Syracuse in what was a now expected rout.  The fans were really taking a shining to Winston by this time, for obvious reasons, and Jameis dutifully signed autographs after each game until the Sports Information guys drug him off the field for his post-game interviews.


Winston directed the Noles to a Senior Day win over Idaho in the last home game of the season. 


In another grudge match to make up for a Gator win the previous year, FSU proved too much for the hapless 2013 Gators. Winston may never know a loss to any of his instate rivalries.


The Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game started out pretty close, but the Blue Devils just couldn't hang with the Noles after a quarter and half of football with Winston at the helm.  In the end, it was yet another one-sided affair with Jameis hoisting the ACC trophy at the end of the game.



A post BCS Championship update...

Jameis' dream season came to a dream end on January 6th in Pasadena.  What better way to cap off a perfect Hesiman year than with a last minute 80 yard drive to win the National Championship in dramatic fashion with 16 seconds left in the game?  What a year!  Here's the post-game celebration hug with Coach Fisher.  Amazing!





Congrats on a fantastic season Jameis!

See much more at wlpearce.com, where it's all about the pictures.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

2013 Dr. Pepper ACC Championship

FSU and Duke battled it out on Pearl Harbor Day at the Bank of America Stadium in downtown Charlotte, home of the Carolina Panthers.


Both teams had record setting seasons to make it to the championship game.  FSU scoring more points in a season than any other previous Seminole team (and third overall in NCAA history) and Duke on a ten game winning spree unprecedented in their history.  So there was a great sense of anticipation when captains Bryan Stork and Lamarcus Joyner ran out for the coin toss, to see what the Blue Devils could do against the Seminole juggernaut.


Duke played FSU tough for a quarter.  To put it in FSU terms, it wasn't 35-0 at the start of the second quarter, as oft had been the case this season.



But as has been consistently the case this season, the Noles defense was simply an impenetrable wall all night long, led by Joyner and Timmy Jernigan. So despite the lack of FSU offense initially, Duke couldn't capitalize.


Kelvin Benjamin had yet another highlight reel type of game, adding to his mounting total of catches, yards and touchdowns for the season.


There was one scary moment when Heisman candidate Jameis Winston tried his best Superman impression by leaping a tall Blue Devil in one bound for a touchdown, afterwards hobbling awkwardly back to the bench.  But thankfully it was a short-lived pain.


 After the game, came the celebration.  I believe this is the first picture I've ever taken of a smiling Jimbo Fisher.  Congrats coach!




See much more of the 2013 Dr. Pepper ACC Championship Game here.

And see much much more of everything at wlpearce.com, where it's all about the pictures!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Gators Seminoles 2013

The Noles and Gators held their traditional end of season rivalry this Thanksgiving weekend... Basketball Friday night and the Football game Saturday afternoon.  I was privileged and excited to shoot them both. 

The basketball game Friday night in the O'Dome was just about as exciting as it gets.  The arena was packed full and the atmosphere was electric.  The Rowdy Reptiles were about as rowdy as I've seen them in a good while.


The players and coaches were wound up pretty tight too.  Billy seemed to get a little frustrated that the Gators couldn't pull away from the Seminoles at any point during the game.  Of course, he vented on the hapless Referees.  Here's a new nomination for Fat Head sticker...


The Seminole's defense was locked in all night.  Florida never could quite put it away.  Plays like this block by Okaro White kept the Noles hanging close right up until last tick of the clock.



FSU played UF tight the whole game, and with a couple of minutes left in the game were down as much as eight points.  FSU made a run and tied it up with thirty seconds left on the clock.  UF had what appeared to be the last possession, delaying to run the clock down before taking the final shot.  They drove to the basket and missed the shot, but drew the ticky tack foul and made both shots.  With 1.2 seconds left on the clock, FSU inbounded to half court and threw up a desperation shot.  I was right under the basket and the shot doinked off the back of the rim... literally an inch from going in and winning the game for FSU.  The O'Dome erupted!

After the buzzer sounded, the Gator players were walking around shell shocked.  This look from Patric Young was representative...




The football game Saturday wasn't quite the nail-biter as the basketball game, but exciting none the less.  Florida Field holds special memories for me.  As a young teenager, I attended the Ray Graves sports camp every summer and played under the wooden bleachers (ouch... dating myself) in the south endzone during the Gator games in the fall.  That was in the era of John Reaves and Carlos Alvarez.  Imagine my surprise when Carlos Alvarez was announced as the honorary Mr. 2-Bits for the game.


After his bit (pun intended) on the field, I ran over, shook his hand and thanked him for the special memories.

The first quarter and a half unfolded like no one had expected.  The Gators actually played, and played well!  The Noles had some miscues... Winston not quite on his game.  The passes weren't quite hitting the mark.  Perhaps off-field concerns hadn't been purged by the excitement of the game yet.


I think the Noles were getting worried until the Winston/Benjamin express shifted into third gear on this play, on the way to overdrive for the day.  You have to enjoy the smile on Kelvin's face as he crosses the goal line with a grimacing Brian Poole in tow.


The Noles defense was just as stifling as it has been all season long, almost shutting the injury depleted Gators out, forcing turnovers with nasty hits like this one on third string Mornhinweg.  No one can blame a quarterback for not holding on to the ball through something like that!


After his stumbles in the first quarter, Jameis Winston was his usual spot-on self, even scrambling a few times for positive yardage when forced out of the pocket.  There's a good reason he has the highest QBR in the country after the last game of the regular season.


Even though it was a hard-fought, bitter rivalry game, I always like seeing displays of sportsmanship after the game.  I'm glad to see that some remember that football is a "game" to be "played"!  Thanks for letting us join the fun guys!



See more of the 2013 Seminole Gator Basketball game here.

See more of the 2013 Seminole Gator Football game here.

And of course, see much much more of everything at wlpearce.com, where it's all about the photos.


Thursday, November 28, 2013

A Winning Season for FSU Football

OK... so I've been woefully inadequate in posting this fall.  Sorry.  Traveling to games every weekend and working during the week doesn't leave much free time.   But, here I find myself on Thanksgiving Day with some down time while the turkeys cook on the grill.  So, here's a montage of the Seminoles games thus far this season.  Only Florida is left this weekend, and that seems like a pretty foregone conclusion.

Click on the hyperlinks of each game to see many more photos of each one.

1.  Pitt at Heinz Field.  FSU - 41, Pitt Panthers - 14.  


What a great sports town, and a far more beautiful city than I had ever imagined.  Check out the panorama  of the city on my site, which is much too large for the blogger format, and this view of Heinz Field from across the river:



 2.  Nevada at Doak Cambell Stadium.  FSU - 62, Nevada Wolf Pack - 7.


 The first home game is always rich with rabid fans that have had to suppress their wild outfits for a whole year...



3.  Bethune-Cookman at Doak Cambell Stadium.  FSU 54, Bethune-Cookman Wildcats 6.

Something missing here:


And, of course the big draw for a Bethune-Cookman game is halftime.  All I can say is, "Wow!"  One of these days I have to see if I can shoot the annual FAMU/Bethune-Cookman classic.  That's got to be some kind of half-time show!



4.  Boston College at Alumni Stadium.  FSU - 48, BC - 34.

OK.  Cheating on this one, since I didn't make the trip to Boston.  Here's a pic from the 2012 game:



5.  Maryland at Doak Campbell Stadium.  FSU - 63, Maryland Terrapins - Zip

The national media started taking note of Jameis Winston along about this point in the season.  He was on a tear (and still is)!


This about summed it up for the turtles....



6.  Clemson at Death Valley.  FSU - 51, Clemson Tigers - 14.

This was the first real test for FSU... highly ranked, but not having played any other ranked teams at this point in the season.  Who expected the final outcome?  Not I.


The ESPN College Game Day guys showed up for the first of two appearances for FSU this year.  They always step the atmosphere up a notch!  Frankly, I was a little worried when Lee Corso put on the Seminole outfit.


7. North Carolina State at Doak Campbell Stadium. FSU - 49, NCState Wolfpack - 17.

FSUs offense isn't the only startling aspect of the season.  The defense has been absolutely stifling all season long!


The NC State game was also the occasion for the return of Bobby Bowden to Doak Campbell Stadium.  What a class act...



8.  Miami at Doak Campbell Stadium.  FSU - 41, Miami Hurricanes - 14.

The dreaded rivalry!  I was a little more comfortable after the Clemson rout, but Miami is always a big question mark.  But the Noles continued to steam roll their opponents... even the bitter rivalries.  The game was just as physical as everyone expected.


 The top ten match-up occasioned the second visit of ESPN College Game Day to an FSU game.  Corso says, "Not so fast!"



9.  Wake Forest at BB&T Field.  FSU - 59, Wake Forest Demon Deacons - 3

Kind of a snoozer, but plenty of highlights to shoot.





10.  Syracuse at Doak Campbell Stadium.  FSU - 59, Syracuse Orangemen - 3 .

You'd be forgiven for thinking the 59-3 score was a copy/paste error from the previous week's score, but nope... that's what it was.  Once again, no lack of highlights as the Noles continued their romp through the ACC.


The Syracuse game was home-coming for FSU... always fun to see the Marching Chiefs alumni come back to march.



11.  Idaho at Doak Campbell Stadium.  FSU - 80, Idaho Vandals - 14.

Yep... another snore-fest.  FSU set a new school record for points scored, surpassing the previous mark of 77.


Senior day at the last home game of the season.  Congrats seniors!



The Florida Gator game is two days away.  That one will warrant a post all its own.  Stay tuned....


See much more at wlpearce.com where it's all about the photos!