This flashback takes us back to 2007 and has a little deeper meaning for this Tiger Fan. It was a Labor Day night classic that saw the Clemson Tigers take down the #19 Florida State Seminoles 24-18.
It took a solid performance by James Davis running the ball (18 carries, 102 yards, one TD) and an efficient performance from quarterback Will Proctor (14-24, 160 yards, 2 TDs).
The Tigers jumped out to a 21-0 lead only to see the Seminoles storm back and make it a six point game in the fourth quarter. Clemson’s defense would then held off the Seminoles on three straight drives to end the game.
Most Clemson Fans didn’t realize it at the time, but that would be Tommy Bowden’s last game ever coaching against his father, in what had become known as the annual Bowden Ball.
This game has a deeper meaning for me though. I had a lifelong friend/brother named Gerald “Petie” Witherspoon.
He was also a lifelong FSU fan and suffered from kidney failure that meant, at the time, that he was on kidney dialysis three days a week. He’d had never had the opportunity to see his Seminoles live, so I found two tickets to the game and surprised him with them.
The two of us left early enough to get up there and see some of the sights in Tigertown. Of course, Petie being a diehard Noles fan, he had some choice words about some. All in good fun though.
We drove my truck up and after the game he looked at me and said just as serious as could be, “If you say one thing about Clemson beating my Seminoles, I will put you out and you will find a way to travel the three and a half hours to get back home.”
Of course, my next comment was “Petie, Do you remember the Final score of the game? I need to call and let somebody know.”
Needless to say, we then got in the truck and headed home. This was the kind of relationship we had. We came up with a wager that meant the loser would wear a hat of the opposite team for the week following the game and I am so thankful to say that he never saw me wear an FSU hat.
Petie died on April 12, 2009. I am white and my brother was African American. It never stopped us from being brothers up until the end.
I truly hope that y’all enjoy the video of the game as much as the two of us did that night. I will never forget the look on Petie’s face when we were watching the Tigers and the Seminoles go at it that night in Death Valley. It was one of the memories that I am so very thankful for.
Well, that and the fact that he never got the opportunity to give me a hard time while I wore an FSU hat. Rest in peace brother….