WIDE LEFT! Hurricanes Edge Florida State, 28-27
Oct 12, 2002
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
MIAMI (AP) – Wide left. Can you believe it?
Thanks to yet another missed field goal by a Florida State kicker in the final seconds, No. 1 Miami hung on for a 28-27 victory over the ninth-ranked Seminoles on Saturday.
The Hurricanes (6-0) extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 28 games, but the defending national champions proved they’re not invincible after all.
While the ‘Canes move forward in their quest for a second straight title, the close call certainly got the attention of upcoming opponents such as No. 4 Virginia Tech and No. 10 Tennessee.
In beating the Seminoles for the third straight year, Miami knows it was lucky to come out on top.
“I knew we were going to win; we just have a curse or something on them,” Miami defensive end Jerome McDougal said. “It was a true test of a champion today.”
For the fourth time since 1991 in this glorious rivalry, the Seminoles failed to connect on what would have been a game-winning or tying field goal. But unlike the first three that sailed wide right, Xavier Beitia’s 43-yard attempt went in the other direction as time expired.
“I simply can’t believe we lost the game like that again,” Bowden said. “I thought we had it. I went out to shake (Beitia’s) hand. I thought he hit it. I’ve had that picture so many times before in my career. I can’t stand it. Our kids did not deserve to lose this game.”
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When the officials signaled the kick was no good, the Hurricanes rushed the field and celebrated as a record Orange Bowl crowd of 81,927 stood and cheered. The Seminoles hung their heads and trudged off to the locker room.
“I’m an old man, and it’s the best football game I’ve ever seen,” Miami coach Larry Coker said.
Until the final minutes, Florida State (5-2) outplayed Miami, but the Seminoles now find themselves out of the national title chase. Even though Miami was pounded by the running of Greg Jones – 189 yards and a touchdown – and penalized 14 times for 109 yards, the Hurricanes never quit.
Ken Dorsey bounced back from what would have been the worst game of his career by leading the ‘Canes to a pair of fourth-quarter touchdowns as they rallied from a 27-14 deficit.
After Jones gave the Seminoles a 13-point lead with an 11-yard touchdown run, Dorsey began hitting his targets. He finished a 70-yard drive with a 2-yard TD pass to Kevin Beard with 8:10 left. The Seminoles were forced to punt, and Miami needed all of two plays to take the lead. Dorsey found Willis McGahee on a screen pass, and the running back turned it into a 68-yard gain to the Florida State 11. On the next play, Jason Geathers ran 11 yards up the middle for a score with 5:17 left. Todd Sievers kicked the extra point, and the Hurricanes held on for dear life after giving Florida State one more chance.
When Freddie Capshaw’s 3-yard punt gave the ball to the Seminoles at the FSU 46, Chris Rix went to work. He hooked up with Talman Gardner for completions of 8 and 15 yards. After two running plays failed to gain a yard, Rix spiked the ball as time ran down to a second left.
Beitia, a sophomore, had kicked field goals of 45 and 42 yards earlier in the game, but now he’ll go down in Florida State lore – along with Gerry Thomas, Dan Mowrey and Matt Munyon – for his errant field-goal try.
I’m an old man, and it’s the best football game I’ve ever seen. Larry Coker
“I was not nervous,” Beitia said. ” I was thinking, `Just make the kick, just make the kick.’ Was it a bad snap or a bad hold? I don’t know the answer. It was a blur.”
McGahee stood and watched from the sideline.
“I was saying, `Please let it be blocked or something,”‘ McGahee said. “Dorsey wasn’t looking. I said, `Dorsey, he missed it!’ I gave him a kiss on the cheek, and we were dancing around together for a long time.”
Dorsey, his Heisman Trophy hopes still alive, completed 20 of 45 passes for 362 yards and two TDs. He also threw two interceptions and lost a fumble that led to Florida State’s first touchdown.
Florida State ran for 296 yards, with Rix completing just 8 of 19 passes for 83 yards and a TD. The players took the loss hard.
“We proved that when we play, we can beat anybody,” Florida State nose tackle Darnell Dockett said. “They say the best team wins, but I believe we were the best team. On the breaks, Miami has all of them. They’ve been getting them here for a long time. It’s hard to believe we lost again the same way.”
Miami is now 7-0 in one-point games against Florida State, and the ‘Canes lead the series 26-20. They also have won 20 straight at home.
Jason Geathers breaks free for the winning score with just over five minutes left in the game.
Dorsey improved to 32-1 as a starter and gave Coker an 18-0 record as Miami’s coach – the best start by any coach since Walter Camp won 28 in a row at Yale in the 1880s.
With Jones running for 134 yards in the first half against Miami’s vaunted front seven, the Seminoles took a 17-14 halftime lead.
McGahee, who carried 26 times for 95 yards, gave Miami a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard TD run 7:02 into the game. But then the Hurricanes – Dorsey in particular – nearly self-destructed in the second period.
Miami was called for six penalties, and Dorsey was intercepted once and lost a fumble as Florida State took a 17-7 lead on a 30-yard run by Nick Maddox, Beitia’s 45-yard field goal and Rix’s 10-yard TD pass to Gardner.
Miami was set to go ahead by two TDs after Antrel Rolle recovered a fumbled punt by the Seminoles’ Leon Washington at the Miami 15. But the ‘Canes tried a quick snap on the next play, and Dorsey fumbled. Florida State’s Allen Augustin recovered at the 15.
Maddox’s TD run with 9:29 left in the half capped an 85-yard drive aided by two pass-interference calls and an offsides penalty.
Miami was unable to move on its next possession, and the Seminoles were on the move again. Jones put together runs of 15 and 16 yards to set up Beitia’s 45-yard field goal, which gave Florida State a 10-7 lead.
It was three plays and a punt for Miami. Rix capped a 50-yard drive with is TD pass Gardner with 2:34 left, and the ‘Noles were ahead 17-7.
Dorsey regained his touch and led Miami to a TD with 26 seconds left in the half. He completed passes of 16 and 20 yards to Beard, then hooked up on a 5-yard scoring pass to Kellen Winslow Jr.