Yogi's right. It's never over till it's over. Ask Bernie Kosar; he thought he had it won with 28 seconds left to play. Better yet, ask Doug Flutie; he actually did have it won with no seconds left.
"It was just a matter of who got the ball last," Flutie said.
And on the last play today, his last chance, his last gasp, his last hurrah, Flutie threw a 48-yard Hail Mary -- no, make that a Hail Flutie -- pass to his roommate, Gerard Phelan, to end surreally the scoring and the game.
Boston College 47, Miami 45.
There may have been better college football games, but I haven't seen them. Have you?
Kosar, a sophomore who will probably win the Heisman trophy someday, completed 25 of 38 for 447 yards and two touchdowns. He was great. Flutie, a senior who will probably win the Heisman trophy next week, completed 34 of 46 for 472 yards and three touchdowns. He was just a little bit greater. Some college quarterbacks go a full season and don't roll up those kinds of numbers. For these guys it's just another day at the office. There are guided missiles that don't have their accuracy. Or their explosiveness. There may be better college quarterbacks out there, but I haven't seen them. Have you?
"Flutie was awesome," said Kosar.
"Kosar was outstanding," said Flutie, college football's all-time passing and total offense leader. "I don't know why I'm setting passing records -- he's going to break them all in two years."
Say amen, somebody.
Neither wind, nor rain, nor gloom of day, nor the alleged pass defenses of Miami and Boston College could stop either of them. You've heard of the nickel defense, with five defensive backs? And the dime defense, with six defensive backs? Some team could put in a T-Bill defense, with 12 down linemen, 38 defensive backs and the chairman of the Federal Reserve with a butterfly net, and Kosar and Flutie would find a way to carve it cleaner than a 6-day-old turkey carcass. Trot out all the appropriate cliches: This wasn't a football game, it was a track meet; it was the Indy 500 in cleats; the lead was batted back and forth so much, it could have been a tennis match. Etc. Etc.
But can you imagine what Kosar and Flutie might have done on a dry field?
Gentlemen, start your calculators.
In a game with so much scoring, so much excitement, so much to recommend it to the ages, the play that stands out above all, of course, was the last one. Kosar had just driven Miami 79 yards in 3 minutes 22 seconds -- handing the ball to Melvin Bratton for the last two -- to take what any reasonable person would concede was an insurmountable 45-41 lead with 28 seconds left. Turn out the lights, the party's over.
How could BC -- even with Flutie -- think it had a chance?
"Obviously," said Dick Flutie, Doug's father, "you haven't watched us play much."
Like father, like son: "Okay, realistically, our chances were slim, of course," Doug Flutie admitted. "But I had an idea in mind. With 28 seconds left, I knew I'd have time for four plays, and I was thinking that if we could just get the ball up to midfield, I could throw it up toward the end zone."
Starting out on his 20, Flutie got 19 yards on his first play, a completion to Troy Stradford. Then, he got 13 more on a completion to Scott Gieselman. Flutie's next pass was incomplete, leaving him six seconds to play with and 48 yards to cover.
BC sent everybody deep but the cheerleaders. Flutie scrambled around until the time was right, which is to say there was no time left at all, and let her rip in the general direction of Phelan, who was, inexplicably, unguarded in the end zone.
"They probably figured the darned kid can't throw it that far," said Jack Bicknell, the deliriously happy BC coach. "What they don't know is that the kid can throw it as far as he has to."
The kid's pass traveled more than 60 yards in the air.
"The only thing I was afraid of," Flutie said, "was that I might throw it completely out of the end zone."
Not to worry.
Phelan leaped up, caught the ball, and cradled it "like it was my first-born."
Flutie didn't even see the catch. "I just saw the ref's arms go up," he said euphorically.
Bratton saw it. "I had to laugh," he said. "I mean, it was a joke, right? I cried. I laughed. I smiled. I said to myself, 'I don't believe this.' "
Kosar saw it, too. "I'm in a state of shock," he said five minutes after the game. He said it again after 10 minutes. And again after 30 minutes. He's probably saying it still.
Meanwhile, Phelan was being all but buried by his teammates as he lay in the mud and the dirt of the end zone. "I thought I was dead," Phelan said, recalling how he felt on the bottom of the pile. Talk about the thrill of victory and the agony of all those feet on his body. "I lay on the ball and thought I was dead. I figured -- what the hell? What a way to go out."
When it was all over, when there was still life in Phelan, when there was another miracle finish for the kid, and when Dick Flutie could finally exhale, father, son and roommate wrapped their arms around each other and held on tight. "I did not enjoy the game until it was over," Dick Flutie said. "Because I knew he had to keep coming back. And that's very mentally draining for a relative. But if you knew Doug like I do, you'd have known what he was thinking when Miami made that last drive: 'Score. Hurry up and score. Just give me one minute.'
"The kid's amazing. He just never quits."
Some people say that Doug Flutie, at 5 feet 9, is too short to play in the pros.
They're out of their minds.