Florida State 10, Miami 7
For as long as most current college players have lived, Miami and Florida State have trotted out quarterbacks who won Heisman trophies, national titles and countless games of consequence.
This year, unforeseen circumstances and graduation afforded two players who had never started a college game the chance to direct their teams in one of the sport's fiercest rivalries. It figured that someone, despite a sparse resume, would jump-start his career Monday with a signature victory.
Think again. Florida State eked by ninth-ranked Miami, 10-7, before a stadium-record 84,347 fans at Doak Campbell Stadium, but the victory could hardly be attributed to quarterback play. The 14th-ranked Seminoles snapped Miami's six-game winning streak in the series, securing victory only after a fitting conclusion to a sloppy game.
In a 19-play drive that absorbed nearly 10 minutes, the Hurricanes took the ball from their 3 into field goal position. But John Rochford's botched snap on a 28-yard field goal attempt with 2 minutes 16 seconds remaining ensured the Seminoles' victory.
"They have seen what we have been through" with missed field goals, Florida State Coach Bobby Bowden said. "I've been there many times. I know exactly how they feel."
Florida State starter Drew Weatherford completed 7 of 24 passes for 67 yards and one interception before being replaced for the fourth quarter by the player he had beaten out in summer camp, Xavier Lee.
Bowden's quarterback picture became scrambled this summer when Wyatt Sexton was lost for the season because he was suffering from symptoms of Lyme disease.
Lee fared no better during his only series, calling the wrong formation on a reverse. Bowden said he turned to Lee because he was desperate. "They both played like freshmen," Bowden said.
On the other side, quarterback Kyle Wright started slowly, throwing two interceptions in the first half, but he put the Hurricanes in position to win. The redshirt sophomore completed 16 of 28 passes for 232 yards and one touchdown.
Wright completed four passes to tight end Greg Olsen in the final drive. Olsen, a Notre Dame transfer, caught eight passes for 137 yards but dropped two passes in the first half.
"You look at some of the throws Kyle made on the final drive with the game on the line," Miami Coach Larry Coker said. "As guys settled into the game, they made big plays."
The Hurricanes' offense was not smooth aside from their final drive. They had a punt blocked. They burned all of their timeouts with 8:45 remaining in the third quarter. And constant pressure by the Seminoles, including nine sacks, disrupted their rhythm.
In the first half, Miami's 204 total yards yielded just seven points because of two ill-timed personal fouls, three dropped passes and two missed field goals, a 47-yarder and a 39-yarder.
Running back Tyrone Moss accumulated 94 yards on 17 carries by halftime but was limited the rest of the game and finished with 102.
On a first and 10 from the Florida State 34 in the second quarter, Wright threw deep to wide receiver Ryan Moore near the end zone. Cornerback Gerald Ross lost his footing, and Kyler Hall could not jump high enough. Moore hauled in the ball for Miami's lone score.
Florida State's offense looked the worst in the third quarter. A blocked punt set up the Seminoles with a first down at the Miami 1. But three straight running plays resulted in three one-yard losses. After a false start pushed them back five yards, the Seminoles capped the drive when Gary Cismesia missed a 26-yard field goal attempt.
Florida State scored its only touchdown in the first quarter on a drive set up by Kyler Hall's interception. On a third and six from the 25, Florida State's Lorenzo Booker eluded tacklers, maintained his balance and raced 24 yards to set up the score, a one-yard burst by fullback James Coleman.
It was the first time Florida State had scored a touchdown in the first quarter against the Hurricanes since 1999, the last time the Seminoles beat the Hurricanes.
"We finally stole one from them," Bowden said, "like they've been stealing from us the last five years."