Interception Against Boston College Saved Miami's Season
Sept 19, 2002
By MARK LONG
AP Sports Writer
MIAMI (AP) – Defensive tackle Matt Walters remembers lying on the turf,watching Brian St. Pierre pass, then jumping to his feet, turning around andseeing the ball float toward him.
Everything else is a blur: The howls, the hesitation, the handoff.
This much is clear: Walters’ last-second interception against Boston Collegelast season preserved a victory, an undefeated season and kept the Hurricaneson track to win a fifth national title.
“It’s one of those plays they’re going to show for the next 30 years,”Walters said. “They’re going to show the Doug Flutie pass first and my playsecond.”
This week, Walters’ play is getting top billing as the top-ranked Hurricanes(3-0, 1-0 Big East) put their 25-game winning streak on the line against BostonCollege (2-0, 0-0) on Saturday.
“It was definitely a big play,” Miami linebacker Jonathan Vilma said. “Itcarried us into the Rose Bowl and a national championship. Those are things youwon’t forget.”
The Eagles haven’t forgotten, either.
“Every time someone mentions the word Miami, the replay goes off in myhead,” center Dan Koppen said. “You never get over it.”
Boston College, playing without tailback William Green, intercepted KenDorsey four times last November and kept the game close until the finalseconds.
The Eagles forced a fumble, started driving and converted a fourth-and-10from the Miami 30-yard line when St. Pierre found Dedrick Dewalt over themiddle for a 21-yard gain with 43 seconds to play.
The Hurricanes didn’t panic.
On first-and-goal from the 9, safety Ed Reed told cornerback Mike Rumph towatch the slant pattern. So with Rumph lined up for an inside route, St. Pierredropped back and threw a slant pass to Ryan Reed.
It bounced off Rumph’s knee and into Walters’ hands.
Walters began to run. He had nine teammates yelling, ‘Get down,’ but onlyone, Reed, screaming, ‘Give me the ball.’ Walters paused just long enough forReed to yank the ball from his hands. Risking a fumble, Reed went 80 yards forMiami’s lone touchdown with 13 seconds remaining.
“It was a great play, lucky maybe, and a good bounce,” Hurricanes coachLarry Coker said.
It also propelled Miami to the national title.
“Sometimes you need a reality check to realize you’re not bulletproof,you’re not invincible,” Coker said. “We really realized that if we want tofinish this thing off and win a national championship that things have to bedone and be done right.”
St. Pierre still hasn’t recovered.
“I think about it every night,” he said.
Miami and Boston College have had several close games, but last year’s gamewas the craziest finish since Doug Flutie completed a Hail Mary pass in theOrange Bowl to beat the Hurricanes in 1984.
And at least this week, “Hail Flutie” has taken a back seat to Walters’interception.
“You don’t have to bring it up,” Coker said. “It’s going to be broughtup, it’s going to be talked about a lot. That play will probably be shown a fewtimes, so you really don’t have to say much about it.
“All we can do now is concern ourselves with this year’s game and how goodwe play in the Orange Bowl.”