Sunday, June 24, 2018
Colleges

Fennelly: With one pass, Miami-FSU is a rivalry again

TALLAHASSEE — Now that's how you end a losing streak.

There were Miami Hurricanes dancing all over Florida State's football field at Doak Campbell Stadium early Saturday evening. Some did front flips. They were back.

For the first time in forever, they owned the Seminoles.

Miami coach Mark Richt stood at midfield, doing a TV interview. When he was done, he took a deep breath amid the bedlam all around him.

"This is crazy," Richt said. "But it's a rivalry again."

Oh, it's a rivalry again.

Miami, 24-20.

No wide right necessary.

Instead, quarterback Malik Rosier lofted a football and receiver Darrell Langham hauled it in.

Twenty-three yards.

Signal: touchdown.

There were six seconds left.

Incredible.

There was a review. Replay angles. Florida State players waved no touchdown. Miami players raised their arms for six. The video boards kept showing the replay: Langham's knee hitting the ground. But was the ball over the goal line?

If it wasn't, Miami would have had to kick a field goal to force overtime, unless Richt was not in control of his senses.

The wait seemed to go on forever. I thought they were going to reverse it.

The ruling stood.

The Hurricanes were back.

Well, back enough.

They answered a Seminoles touchdown late in the game, James Blackman to former Wharton star Auden Tate with 1:24 left for a 20-17 FSU lead.

It looked as if Tate was going to be the man of the hour.

But the hour had 104 seconds left in it.

So, Miami's seven-game losing streak to FSU is over. Being 13th ranked and 3-0 heading in was one thing. But Miami wasn't going to begin to really be back until it beat Florida State. Everyone knew it.

If FSU, in the middle of its misery, had still run the streak to eight, it would have been official: The Hurricanes can't beat the Seminoles. They would have needed to replace FSU on the schedule with an open date.

This would have been extinction level.

Instead, Miami players lay on the field and posed for pictures. They ran to the corner of one end zone and were serenaded by their fans and band.

Rosier just put it out there.

"I just went out and tried to get it," Langham said on the field.

It was maybe the worst first half in the history of this series. FSU led 3-0 after 30 minutes. Miami never crossed midfield. Rosier was awful. Miami gained 57 yards on 30 plays.

But it ended with one of the greatest fourth quarters in the history of UM-FSU.

Thirty years ago, Miami and Florida State played a remarkable game on this same field, a heart-stopping 26-25 Miami win.

Not to compare this game to that game. There was so much more talent on the field that day, blinding talent. Saturday's game was unwatchable for three quarters.

But you couldn't take your eyes off that ending.

Miami needed to win. Richt, in his second season back at his alma mater, needed to throw down in this rivalry or it wouldn't be one anymore.

"We made it one again," said Hurricanes senior receiver Braxton Berrios, who had eight catches and two touchdowns.

Rosier put it out there. Beautifully. Perfect.

And Langham, a redshirt junior from Lantana, freed himself just enough from cornerback Tarvarus McFadden. Langham turned and caught the ball as he fell.

And Miami had a one-game win streak over Florida State.

The band was blasting. UM players strolled around the field. They didn't want to leave.

Langham's knee hit the ground again. He blessed himself when he was done. He had been saying a prayer.

One had already been answered.

It's a rivalry again.

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