Junior QB leads Miami to 38-33 victory at the O.B.
By Brian Poliakoff
Editor in Chief
Brock Berlin turned his back on the Gator nation last year when he announced he would transfer to state rival Miami. After a tumultuous first half Saturday night, Berlin stood right up to his former team, leading the ‘Canes to an exhilarating 38-33 comeback victory.
Berlin overcame two interceptions and one lost fumble that was recovered for a touchdown to throw for 340 yards and two touchdowns on 27-of-42 passing. Miami scored 28 unanswered points to finish the game, overcoming a 23-point third quarter deficit.
“My emotions are just sailing right now,” Berlin said after the game. “I’m just so thankful I am here at Miami. It’s unbelievable.”
Berlin’s fourth quarter performance will go down as one of the best in UM history. On the game-winning drive, Berlin marched the ‘Canes down the field in an 11 play, 89-yard drive that was capped off by a 12-yard touchdown run by Frank Gore (127 yards rushing and two touchdowns) with 1:44 remaining in the game. The drive was extremely intense as Berlin ran six yards for a first down to the Florida 28-yard line on a fourth-and-one with just under three minutes left in the game. Berlin then immediately went down with cramps, forcing Miami to call a timeout. On the next play Berlin returned to the field and connected with fullback Kyle Cobia on an 11-yard strike. Gore would scamper into the end zone three plays later to give Miami a 38-33 lead. The ‘Canes were unsuccessful on a two-point conversion attempt.
“Brock became the leader in the second half,” Gore said. “He kept telling us to keep fighting and we sure did.”
UF had once last chance, as they got the ball back with 1:37 remaining. After driving the ball down to the Miami 20, freshman Florida quarterback Chris Leak (nine-of-15 for 93 yards) was intercepted by UM defensive back Al Marshal. Berlin and the offense came onto the field to take a knee. Berlin proceeded to throw the ball up in the air and turned to the Gator fans in the bleachers and mocked the Gator chomp.
“It was a great football game,” head coach Larry Coker said. “You throw out the records when you have a great rivalry like this. I’ve been around coaching a long time…I don’t know if I’ve ever seen character displayed like I saw tonight by our football team…we never gave up.”
UM was fortunate to come out of the half only down nine points, and things got worse at the start of the second half. UF tailback DeShawn Wynn ran past the entire UM defense for a 65-yard touchdown run on the first play of the third quarter. Berlin then threw two interceptions on the ‘Canes’ first two possessions, one of which led to a four-yard score by UF running back Ran Carthon. UF was up with just over six minutes remaining in the third quarter.
“Kellen Winslow told me were going to win it,” Coker said. “It didn’t look like we were going to win it at that time.”
Much to the dismay of the booing Miami fans, Coker stuck with Berlin after the Carthon score. Berlin came out possessed and played like a different player than what was witnessed by 79,932 fans earlier in the game. Berlin led the ‘Canes on a nine play, 85-yard drive that culminated with a 26-yard touchdown pass from Berlin to Kevin Beard (seven receptions, 164 yards). After a successful two-point conversion pass to Ryan Moore, Miami found themselves only down 15 with just over three minutes remaining in the third quarter.
The UM defense forced a three and out on the next Gator possession. Berlin and the rest of the offense wasted no time finding the end zone as Gore scored from a yard out after a Beard 62-yard reception set up the score.
After another Florida three and out, Berlin marched the ‘Canes right down the field again, this time connecting with Moore (three catches, 29 yards) on a six-yard touchdown pass that finished a nine play, 70-yard drive with 11:08 left in the contest. A Moore excessive celebration penalty forced UM to kick the extra point, cutting the UF lead to 33-32.
On the subsequent drive, Florida Head Coach Ron Zook put redshirt freshman quarterback Gavin Dickey into the game for the first time. Dickey led a drive into Miami territory, but the Gators were then forced to punt. Berlin took charge of the offense once again leading the ‘Canes to the game-winning score.
“We never second guessed our ability to comeback and win the game,” middle linebacker and team captain Jonathan Vilma said.
UF entered the game having lost nine of the their last 11 contests against Miami, and it looked like they would continue that trend early.
Miami true freshman Devin Hester began the game with a 97-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Yet, UF’s Andre Caldwell returned the next kickoff to Miami’s 38, setting up a Matt Leach 26-yard field goal cutting the Hurricane lead to 7-3. Miami would add a Jon Peattie field goal on their next possession. UF dominated the rest of the first half.
Berlin’s comeback heroics now put him on the map. Similarly, Ken Dorsey put his name on the national scene with a huge game as a sophomore when he led Miami to a thrilling 27-24 win over FSU in 2000. It looks like the entire country knows the current UM signal caller now too.
As for the Gators, they did prove they could hang with one of the nation’s best teams and did so with a combination of quarterbacks who had not yet started a road game. The three UF quarterbacks (Dickey, Leak and Ingle Martin), combined for 219 yards passing and freshman tailback DeShawn Wynn led UF with a 100-yard rushing performance.
However, UF’s freshman heroics were not enough to withstand a Miami comeback. The ‘Canes extended their nation-best home winning streak to 23 games, keeping their hopes for a second national championship in three seasons alive.
You can reach Brian Poliakoff at email@example.com.
Passing yards by UM junior QB and former Gator Brock Berlin.
Rushing yards by UM sophomore tailback Frank Gore.
Receiving yards by UM senior wide receiver Kevin Beard.