Fans ride emotional roller coaster

The Associated PressJanuary 7, 2014 

Florida State fans react as they watch the Seminoles’ victory on a 30-foot screen at the Tallahassee Leon County Civic Center.

PHIL SEARS/THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

AUBURN, Ala. — Florida State fans shouted and danced in raucous celebration after their top-ranked team roared back in the fourth quarter to beat Auburn in the final seconds of the BCS championship game.

Many pumped fists gleefully and cheered in Tallahassee, Fla., after Jameis Winston threw a 2-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 13 seconds left as Florida State beat No. 2 Auburn 34-31 on Monday night.

In Tallahassee, two machines rained streams of garnet and gold confetti down on thousands of fans who jumped and danced in a civic center where they had watched the game. For both sides, it was a tense finale after a game in which Auburn mostly had the first-half momentum.

In the end, Florida State fans erupted into cheering, including a group of fans who built a fire outside while they watched the game amid a bitter cold snap. Like many in the region, fans at Auburn and Florida State weather unseasonably bitter cold.

In Auburn, Ala., stunned fans emptied out of bars, some falling on their knees once the clock expired in Pasadena, Calif. Normally Auburn fans delight in festooning their celebration site, Toomer’s Corner, with toilet paper. But one fan dejectedly tossed a single roll of paper in the street that was quickly picked up by a police officer.

For Auburn fans, it was a bitter moment after their team had taken a surprising 21-10 lead by the end of the first half.

Earlier, thousands of Auburn fans in orange and blue roared inside Auburn Arena, watching on a big video screen as Auburn under Nick Marshall racked up the first touchdowns. Fans shook and warmed the coliseum with their energy — while outside temperatures were in the low 20s.

Auburn fan Kat Damron screamed Auburn’s “War Eagle” battle cry and danced as the offense moved down the field toward the first Auburn touchdown. She was nearly hoarse by the end of the first half after Auburn scored further.

“War Damn Eagle till I die, baby, till I die,” Damron said. “This is second best thing to being at the game. I would love to be in Pasadena right now.”

With most of the South enduring a bitter unseasonable cold snap, many fans might have wished they were in balmy Pasadena, Calif., some 59 degrees and thousands of miles away, where the fight for the title was played out.

Meanwhile, a sizable crowd of Florida State fans gathered in the local civic center in Tallahassee, Fla., thundering at their initial 3-point field goal and a Seminoles scoring run with 1:28 remaining in the half. FSU’s Golden Girls danced when their team began scoring.

Some Florida State fans lamented that the early momentum wasn’t with them at the outset. The Seminoles hadn’t trailed in any game since late September.

“We need a lot of momentum and we’re not getting it. That’s not good,” said Travis Hett, a Florida State fan after the half.

He would not be disappointed.

of cheers … and tears

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