Trailing by five points late in the fourth quarter at an unfriendly stadium, it looked as though the Miami Hurricanes might fall to archrival Florida State for a third straight year.
But they didn’t.
With starting quarterback Kyle Wright injured, the game rested on the shoulders of backup quarterback Kirby Freeman, who shook off a lackluster two-and-a-half quarters to put the Hurricanes up with an 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Dedrick Epps. Then, linebacker Colin McCarthy’s 27-yard fumble recovery sealed the Hurricane victory, 37-29.
“[It was] another typical Florida State-Miami game,” Head Coach Randy Shannon said. “It was a great game. It swung back and forth. There were plays made on both sides of the ball. The best thing about it was that you saw guys fly around from both sides of the football. There were turnovers on both sides. Big plays made on both sides. It was an exciting football game. That’s what Miami-Florida State games are always going to be about.”
The Hurricanes opened the highly anticipated matchup on offense but were unable to capitalize on the first drive. On the ensuing possession Florida State drove down the field but was held to a field goal. The three-pointer would be the first of five for the Noles.
Wright threw a 64-yard bomb to deep threat Darnell Jenkins to help set up Miami’s first touchdown. They took the lead at 7-3.
A fumble by FSU, deep in their own territory, led to a 2-yard touchdown run by Cooper. A bootleg run by Lee brought the game to 14-10.
The second quarter began with a Wright pass that was intercepted and returned 45 yards for an FSU touchdown.
Later in the quarter, Wright injured his ankle from a blindside hit by a FSU defender. With Wright out, Miami kicked a field goal to tie the game.
Randy Phillips intercepted FSU on the next drive, but Freeman was soon picked off in Seminoles’ territory. Florida State was able to capitalize with a field goal to end the half, 20-17.
It seemed that Florida State would continue their run at the start of the third quarter, with another field goal that increased their lead to 23-17.
Cooper then sparked the Canes with a 43-yard run, but the offense struggled to secure another first down. The Hurricanes looked poised for a field goal attempt, when kicker Francesco Zampogna faked the field goal and threw a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Dajleon Farr to put the Hurricanes up 24-23. The creative play caught Florida State by surprise and gave the Canes’ offense new hope.
“It was something that gave us a chance,” Shannon said. “We are always going to continue to find things that we can do to spark us up on the team. That was a call in a tough situation and they were going for the block and it worked and we got a touchdown.”
Things looked grim for the Canes in the fourth quarter, but the defense held steadfast and forced a Florida State punt with less than three minutes remaining. Freeman trotted onto the field knowing the Canes needed a touchdown. In a little over a minute, Miami had scored a touchdown and Freeman was down after being sandwiched.
With the Hurricanes edging 30-29, Florida State was poised to drive down the field and kick a game-winning field goal. But McCray shattered the Seminoles’ hopes as he caused the final turnover of the game that allowed Miami to clinch the win 37-29.
Both teams combined for a total of nine turnovers, four by the Canes. Cooper showed consistency running, rushing for 86 yards on 11 carries and one touchdown.
“It’s a big win,” Shannon said. “It snapped a losing streak on the road and is our first ACC win on the road so that is a big start for us as a team.”
Lelan LeDoux may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.