Oct 12, 2002
By RICHARD ROSENBLATT
AP Football Writer
MIAMI – Wide left. Can you believe it?
Top-ranked Miami was helped by yet another last-second missed field goal by No. 9 Florida State, hanging on for a 28-27 victory Saturday over the Seminoles to extend the nation’s longest winning streak to 28 games.
For the fourth time since 1991 in this glorious rivalry, the Seminoles failed to connect on a field goal that would have tied or won the game. But unlike the first three that sailed wide right, Xavier Beitia’s 43-yard attempt went in the other direction.
“I simply can’t believe we lost the game like that again,” Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. “I thought we had it. I went out to shake his 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.”
When the officials signaled that 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.
“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) had outplayed the defending national champions, but the Seminoles now find themselves out of the national title chase. Even though Miami (6-0) was pounded by the running of Greg Jones – who had 189 yards and a touchdown – and was penalized 14 times for 109 yards, the Hurricanes showed why they are champs in every way.
Ken Dorsey bounced back from what would have been the worst game of his career by leading the Hurricanes 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.
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 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.”
Miami escapes with a 28-27 win after Florida State misses a last-second field goal.
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FSU head coach Bobby Bowden never feels safe when he’s playing against Miami.
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Dorsey, his Heisman 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.
“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.
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 the 1880s.
With Jones running for 134 of his 189 yards in the first half against Miami’s vaunted front seven, the Seminoles took a 17-14 halftime lead as the Hurricanes made enough mistakes to last the rest of the season.
McGahee, who carried 26 times for 95 yards, gave Miami a 7-0 lead on a 4-yard 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, and Dorsey fumbled. Florida State’s Allen Augustin recovered at the 15.
The Seminoles took charge, and Miami helped them. Maddox ran 30 yards for a touchdown with 9:29 left in the half, capping an 85-yard drive that was aided by two pass-interference calls and an offsides penalty against the ‘Canes.
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 a 10-yard TD pass to Gardner with 2:34 left, and the ‘Noles were ahead 17-7.
But 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.