Officials blew call, but Miami players blew game

Four quarters of play, two overtimes, and 150 plays marked Ohio State’s 31-24 upset over the Hurricanes in the Fiesta Bowl.
What many are calling the greatest college football game ever, I call a sloppy game full of turnovers. It was a messy game that happened to go into two suspenseful and shocking overtimes.
Whether you call it a great game or a poorly played contest, everyone has diminished the game to a single play, an extremely questionable pass interference call on the ‘Canes in the first overtime.
Here is what went down. With Miami leading 24-17, Ohio State faced a fourth-and-three at the Miami five-yard line. If the Buckeyes failed to score, Miami would take home its second consecutive national championship.
Buckeye quarterback Craig Krenzel fired a fade pass to wide receiver Chris Gamble in the right front corner of the end zone. Miami cornerback Glenn Sharpe battled Gamble for position. Yes, some contact occurred between the two before the pass sailed past them. However, the ball flew over their heads and everyone, including believed the ‘Canes won the Fiesta Bowl.
Fireworks went off. UM players jumped up and down, while the Buckeyes were just down. All of the sudden, this slight moment of celebration came to an end. Everyone in the stands screamed – flag, flag down – field judge Terry Porter tossed his flag, calling pass interference.
“I saw the guy holding the guy prior to the ball being in the air,” Porter told The Miami Herald.
Said senior defensive end Jerome McDougle: “I don’t want to sit here and question the officials, I don’t want to rip them. Well, I want to rip them, but I won’t.”
Even the modest and reserved head coach Larry Coker was shocked over the call. Like the players and fans, he was celebrating at midfield when he learned of a flag on the play.
“From my perspective, it was kind of after the fact,” Coker said.
When watching the replay over and over again, I can confidently say that the call was ridiculous, especially in that situation. The game should have been over and I should be writing an article about a victory for the ‘Canes.
The Buckeyes wound up scoring on the next play and their next possession to take the 31-24 lead. They then stopped the ‘Canes on a fourth and one to win the national championship.
Yet, I am going to stop my what if story and firmly put down my foot. Yes, it was a bad call, but the ‘Canes had numerous opportunities to win the game. It shouldn’t have come down to the bad call in the second overtime.
First of all, three plays prior to the infamous flag, the Miami defense allowed Krenzel to convert on a fourth-and-14 pass to Michael Jenkins. The ‘Canes had no business giving up a long pass on fourth down, especially one by Krenzel who was only seven-of-21 for 122 yards in the entire game.
Most importantly, the Hurricanes turned the ball over five times. Ken Dorsey threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. His interception and fumble in the second quarter both led to Ohio State touchdowns.
Another Miami turnover may have been the biggest play of the game. On Ohio State’s first possession of the third quarter, UM safety Sean Taylor intercepted Krenzel in the end zone and ran wild down the sideline until Buckeye tailback Maurice Clarett stripped the ball out of Taylor’s hands. Ohio State went on to score a field goal.
The mental mistakes by the Hurricanes led to all 17 of Ohio States’ points in regulation. In addition, the Buckeye defense dominated the Miami offensive line that surrendered four sacks in the game.
So when you wake up from your recurring nightmares on how the ‘Canes got robbed, also remember the Dorsey turnovers, the poor play by the offensive line, and the Taylor mishap when crying why Miami didn’t win the Fiesta Bowl.

You can reach Brian Poliakoff at

January 17, 2003


The Miami Hurricane

Student newspaper at the University of Miami

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